Lori Yates


 CHRONOLOGY 


 1979 – Lori grows away from her self-proclaimed mall-babe days in Downsview and cuts her musical teeth at age 19 as a member of Toronto punk/new wave band The Last Resorts.  They play legendary haunts, Larry's Hideaway and the Turning Point, opening for scene heroes, Teenage Head (foreshadowing her move to the renowned punk band’s hometown of Hamilton more than two decades later). 

1986 – Lori’s band, Rang Tango is born and begins a reign of cowpunk the likes of which Toronto has never seen.  It’s the unwitting beginning of Yates’ influence on Canadian  music and the city’s bursting club scene.  Many will later tout Yates as being far more deserving of recognition for the evolution of roots music in Toronto than she’s been given.  Rang Tango’s fresh sound and high-energy performances quickly make them club  favourites among emerging scenesters  Blue Rodeo, honky-tonk troubadour Handsome Ned, and the Cowboy Junkies. 

1987Rang Tango releases its self-titled album on State of the Heart Records.  Sony Music notices the enigmatic front woman and makes moves to sign Yates as a solo artist.

1989 - Lori is introduced to the star-making machinery of Nashville after being signed to a record deal by Sony Nashville. "That's when I met legendary producer Billy Sherill, who turned out to be a mean old guy. I remember him saying 'there's only one redhead in Nashville, and that's Reba.’"  Trouble in the Country (track number six on Sweetheart of the Valley) is the story of that visit, which thickens her skin and opens her eyes to the realities of the music business.  The result is her debut album, Can't Stop the Girl, recorded in Music City with producer Steve Buckingham and top player, Marty Stuart. She records a spontaneous midnight session at Cowboy Jack Clement’s studio with Bob Johnston producing. This leads to gigs supporting huge American stars: Dwight Yoakam, Steve Earle, and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.  Lori records a duet with Gregg Allman for the movie Next Of Kin, and is mentored by Tammy Wynette, Harlan Howard and Roy Acuff at the tail end of Nashville’s golden era.

1993 – Lori releases her second album, Breaking Point on the Virgin Music Canada label, after her Sony Nashville deal lapses. A diverse musical treat, Lori earns both a Juno and CCMA nomination. Expertly produced by Colin Linden and John Whynot at the famed Bearsville Studio in Woodstock, New York, it features notable guests Rick Danko (The Band) and Jim Cuddy (Blue Rodeo) on harmony vocals and Richard Bell (Janis Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band) on piano.

1998 – An intriguing musical departure follows with the Virgin Music Canada album Untogether, an ethereal-sounding collaboration with trip-hop duo Opium Concepts whose lineup includes Juno Award-winning producer Eric Ratz. From there, it’s a return to her roots with Hey Stella!

1998–2002 – The formative years of Hey Stella!, a popular fixture on the T.O. club scene comprising of Yates, guitarist/producer David Baxter, bassist Bazil Donovan (Blue Rodeo) and drummer Michelle Josef (Prairie Oyster).  They release a self-titled album in 2001. ""They understand the kind of songs I write and are masters at that kind of music."  This is the lineup that makes Sweetheart of the Valley Yates’ most celebrated release to date. 

2002 – Lori moves from Toronto to Hamilton, working frequently with guitarists Brian Griffith (Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Daniel Lanois) and Mike Eastman (Ronnie Hawkins) at places like the legendary Corktown Pub (affectionately known as Hamilton’s Best Live Dive).   She co-founds Hamilton punk/pop super group The Evelyn Dicks with Chris Houston, Buckshot Bebee, Jimmy Vapid, and Cleave Anderson.  If you’ve never heard of Hamilton’s infamous Evelyn Dick, she’s more than worth the Google search.

2007 –Lori releases the highly-acclaimed Book of Minerva, incorporating folk elements featuring multi-instrumentalist and co-producer David Baxter and guest vocals by Yates fans, Justin Rutledge and Tom Wilson. The substantial merits of this country-folk gem are recognized by the Hamilton Music Awards, with Lori winning Songwriter of the Year and Alternative Country Recording of the Year.

2015 – Lori and Hey Stella! begin recording Sweetheart of the Valley at David Baxter’s famed recording studio, Knob and Tube, over the course of three cold, rainy November days.  Each song comes together with an ease like never before and the group instinctively knows something great is coming together.  Guests include guitarist Stephen Miller, pedal steel player Steve Wood, backing vocalists Lisa Winn and Kara Lea Manovich.  Master of mastering, Nick Blagona (Deep Purple, the Bee Gees and The Police) adds aural clarity to the mixes.  Amidst the dreamy/heartwrenching/soul-bearing tracks, Lori provides balance with the up-tempo Whatcha Gonna Do, Corktown and Trouble in the Country. The last two feature an A-list cast of many of Hamilton's best singers: Rita Chiarelli, Terra Lightfoot, Treasa Levasseur, Mimi Shaw, Ginger St. James, Dottie Cormier, Lena Montecalvo, Buckshot Bebee, and Mary Simon. 

2016 - Lori is nominated for 6 Hamilton Music Awards, and is nominated for the Polaris Prize longer list and is booked to play prestigious festivals; Mariposa, Harvest Picnic and Hamilton Music Awards themselves. Sweetheart of the Valley receives world wide air-play, topping out at #6 EuroAmericana chart , and #8 Roots Music Report.