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Charelle Evelyn

Charelle Evelyn

Reporter for the Prince George Citizen

Journalist, west coast native, music lover. Made in Canada.

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Talk Derby To Me: Keeping It PG With The Rollergirls

The Rated PG RollerGirls bring in the noise and, if you’re
unlucky enough to be on the opposing team, they also
bring the pain.

For nearly seven years, the local roller derby team has been capturing hearts, minds, fans and teammates as they showcase the toughest game on eight wheels.

Haylee Tucker was one such convert, watching her first Rated PG bout at the Roll- A-Dome two years ago. Now the 20-year-old is fully indoctrinated into the cult of roller derby, complete with derby name (Mother Tucker) and a spot on the squad’s A-Team, the Northstars.

The first thing she noticed about the sport was the athleticism of the women rounding the track, said Tucker. Then she picked up on the ferocity.

“There’s a player named Lockdown. She’s actually a friend of mine now, but when I came to the game, she laid out this huge, massive hit on a smaller player,” Tucker recalled. “She went down pretty hard and came up and Lockdown knocked her down again. I was like: I want to do that.” It turned out to be a perfect fit for Tucker, who said she had played roller hockey after getting kicked off the ice hockey team for fighting “because all the boys got bigger than me and I couldn’t hit them back the way they could hit me.”

However, once she was a part of the team, what kept Tucker going was the welcoming environment she found. “It’s more than a sport for a lot of us. It’s a community of healthy-minded, healthy women, which is just so cool to be involved with,” she said. Roller derby players come in all shapes, sizes, ages and backgrounds.

Long-time member Denise Hogue (a.k.a. Sistah Viberosis), came out to the team’s inaugural Try-It Night, not too long after her son was born. “We have a lot of moms that play derby. It’s a good way of getting back into shape post-baby,” she said with a laugh.

Hogue also works full-time as a forester and started the RollerGirls’ signature introduction of taking a lap of the track wielding a roaring chainsaw. Currently recovering from an injury, Hogue has taken on more coaching duties, handling the squad’s more recreation-focused house team - and is teaching other players to handle the saw in her stead until she’s back on skates.

“It’s such a fixture on the team. It’s the nose and the smell, it really gets the team going,” she said. With the grip of the Canada Winter Games, there won’t be a Rated PG home bout at the Roll-A-Dome in February. Instead, the team is opening up a Thursday night practice and scrimmage to the public on Feb. 19 between 6 and 9 p.m.

For those who want to mark down their next fix, there will be roller derby influx with the Northern Exposure tournament March 21-22. In it’s second year, the tournament will be broken into two sessions, with the next coming up on April 25-26.

There was such a positive response to the first Northern Exposure in 2014 that the Roll-A-Dome can’t accommodate all the teams who wanted to participate this time around in one go, said Hogue. Rated PG is always looking for Fresh Meat. Practices for newcomers run Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Roll-A-Dome. Participants should try to come equipped with a mouth guard and helmet and other gear - including skate rentals - can be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.

For more information on joining the team or a bout schedule, visit or find them on Facebook.

Bringing the Big Show

There’s a treasure trove of rock and roll
splendor spread amongst the members of
Burn It Down.

Lights, lasers, smoke machines, high-quality speakers – not to mention all the instruments – are all at this four-piece’s disposal to put on a rock spectacle.

Members Gerry Hicks, Les Johnson, Justin McLean and Brian Newton have been beating the rock and roll drum since 2011. The group’s repertoire focuses on the best of the 1980s and 90s (ie. Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Def Leppard, Journey, etc.).

“That’s kind of our direction because nobody’s doing it anymore, for one, and two, that’s what we’re kind of about,” said Johnson. “If we’re playing and you come to see us, we put on a pretty good rock show.” Looking at all of the gear amassed in the Burn It Down’s rehearsal space, it’s hard to believe that music isn’t the group’s full-time occupation. The band practices once per week and gigs when they can in a city where dance music is an increasingly popular form.

Music is strongly steeped in bandmates Hicks and Johnson, who both have been playing since they were youngsters. Hicks began playing in bands in 1992 and hasn’t stopped. A decade ago, he was playing bass with Powersludge in Alberta. “Every town I go into I end up playing with someone,” he said. Johnson started out with piano lessons as a child.

“It’s the typical story: everyone else is out playing baseball and I’ve got to do my piano lessons,” he said. “It was a bit of bummer but I thank my mom every day for it.”

The bandmates both have original music up for grabs on ReverbNation, as Gerry Hicks and Hear on Earth, respectively.

Vinyl Soul

Watching Bruce Lee movies as a tyke,
Mike Gaff didn’t want to be the hero. He
wanted to be the grand master the hero
looked up to.

Mostly raised in Victoria, Gaff started his apprenticeship in the world of the hip-hop arts during a brief stint in Prince George in his late teens.

“Because I was quite good at skateboarding when I was younger, I ended up hanging out with people that were a few years older than me that were rappers or graffiti artists or some of them had turntables and were DJs,” he said. “I practiced all of the arts from break dancing to DJing and it ended up that DJing was the one that stuck the most.”

Cue the training montage: After years spent refining and honing his skills, today The Gaff is internationally known for his dominance behind the turntables, winning battles, voter’s contests and breaking into bestseller lists as a producer. This month, The Gaff will headline Night 17 on Feb. 28 of Cariboo House, presented by Citizen Special Events and Pacific Western Brewing during the Canada Winter Games, marking the first time he’s been back to Prince George since 2001. Now based out of Saskatoon, he specializes in party music infused with soul, funk and world beats. Gaff’s encyclopedic knowledge of music is hard-won and well catalogued by means of his record collection that’s well past the 10,000 mark. He started collecting young, after connecting the dots between current tracks and music from days gone by.

“And I started realizing that they were all my favourite songs were actually jazz, soul and rock songs from the 60s and 70s. So then I started getting ore curious about those players and the musicians and where they came from and who they were jamming with,” he said. And then he started sampling.

“I collect stuff that, in general, is funkier or has really dope drum beats I could make a cool song out of. I have weird middle eastern records, weird soundtracks, rock records,” Gaff said. “I might get a record because I really love the cover, or it’s got one little sample on it that’s five seconds long but the rest of it sucks.”

In December, Gaff launched his label Do It With Soul to house remixes and edits of popular songs and collaborations. His own work is due for an album release this summer.

In a world of digital access, The Gaff is part of a rare breed of touring turntable magicians. “There’s not as many people doing it because more often now the kind of person that’s travelling, they’re not actually a DJ – they’re a music producer and they’re just playing the kinds of songs that they are about or that fit in with their style,” he said.

Laptops and computer software have changed the game, he said. He uses them himself, as touring with crates of vinyl isn’t exactly practical, but like the old grandmasters The Gaff looked at with envy, he’s now the one dropping pearls of wisdom.

“I often say that if DJs were like doctors and you had to earn the title like a doctor, there’d be a lot less DJs in the world.”

A little about me

ncoyne3Norm Coyne has been active in local arts, entertainment and promotions for 15 years. He developed the Scene PG to provide local artists and musicians with exposure as well as connect a broader audience to the events and talent Prince George has to offer.


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