Bob Kemmis
"Arena Ready"
by Johanna J. Bodde

BOB KEMMIS   "Arena Ready"
(Red Hare Music / Tonic Records)

"Arena Ready", what a smart title for a CD! And it doesn't stop there... First lines of the first song "Late Night Advice": "Why'd you wake me up in the middle of the night / If you don't want my advice / I'm too tired to hear you out". Followed by a catchy tune about a disappointing concert: "I gave forty dollars to a scalper and you're sucking / Your show's half over and man, you're still sucking / I can't believe you'd be such a let down."
Bob Kemmis from Vancouver, Canada sure has a way with words! And he certainly has a strong sense of melody too. This is his third studio album -"Okay So..." is a live-CD - and it apparently floated around for a while already (released in 2004) but is now picked up by label and manager of Bocephus King!
During the 90s Bob was a guitar tech for poprock band The Odds and then he tried Nashville (just like Bocephus). He was a guest writer at Warner Chappell music, until he decided Nashville's "cookie cutter" songwriting formula wasn't his thing and returned to Vancouver. He started to play solo-dates and released his first two albums, "Kemmisutra" and "Tomorrow Doesn't Look Good Either". In 2000 he opened on Jann Arden's cross-Canada tour, he also was the opening act for Chris Isaak, Badly Drawn Boy and Ron Sexsmith. Going back to his old profession of guitar tech, Bob worked for the band of Bryan Adams, while he wrote material for this CD "Arena Ready".
Bob's voice sounds somewhat like Ron Sexsmith's, but he's perky and funny. The music is basically sixties-influenced pop, the "lush landscape" kind with layers of keyboards, electric guitars, drums and harmony vocals, plus accents by instruments like banjo and trumpet. Professionally played by respected Canadian musicians like Keith Scott (Bryan Adams), Rob Baker (Tragically Hip), Phil Comparelli (54-40), Simon Kendall (Doug and the Slugs), Steve Dawson (Zubot & Dawson) and from The Odds: Craig Northey, Doug Elliott and Pat Steward.
This CD is for music lovers who are into perfectly played & produced poppy 60s sounds and do appreciate intelligent, funny lyrics. It's not your regular, often rootsy and raggedy singer-songwriter stuff! But isn't this sweet, from "Amy Elyse": "And I hope you're not angry I've used your real name" or this one from "My Green Shirt": "OK, that line didn't rhyme, but it didn't have to." Can't help smiling a big smile...
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, February 2007.