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Next Evolution

Downhill Ryder celebrates their new album while saying goodbye to founding member Kim Kelley



If you ask Downhill Ryder founding member and guitarist Matthew Finfer, it's the curse of the album release. On Wednesday, May 24, local roots-rockers Downhill Ryder release their second album, "The Big One." The accompanying party has dual purposes though, as it will also be lead vocalist Kim Kelley's final performance with the band before she departs for a new job in Colorado.

"I've been in several bands and every time we go in and create a CD there's a major shift in personnel," Finfer says. "This was unknown and Kim's one sly dog, it just kind of happened. So far, everything is continuing to move forward."

Finfer and Kelley originally came together to form Downhill Ryder when Finfer answered an ad she placed. In the years since Downhill Ryder formed, the five-piece band has drawn from all of their different backgrounds and influences. Their sound isn't necessarily classic rock or folk or jazz or blues, but a beautiful splice of all of their different backgrounds.

While their first album may have centered around Kelley's vocals and songwriting, the new album evolves their sound to be more inclusive of everyone's styles. "The Big One" features two powerful vocals and strong basslines and leans a little less folky than the previous album.

"I think we have a pretty unique thing going. I think that the songs have a little more teeth and edge, but still showcase vocal interplay," Finfer says.

"With the level of talent and collaboration in our band, it's really a five-piece show. I think our CD really captures that," says vocalist and percussionist Lynda Beauchamp. "I definitely had no idea that this was on the horizon, but I will say that I'm incredibly glad that we captured this sound and this moment in time with the five of us."

With the departure of Kelley, Beauchamp steps into the spotlight for lead vocals. Because the new album centers on a dual vocal, the band continues to look for the right person to fill that position in the band. Though everyone agrees Kelley cannot be replaced, they all look forward to the next iteration of the Downhill Ryder sound.

"What I'm going to miss the most is the people I play with, that's the biggest thing. I can continue to write and collaborate with them, so we'll see what happens," Kelley says.

"It's like a family without the need for heavy therapy," Finfer says. "When we're in the room making music, writing and dissecting songs, I just feel like we're all in this together. What I'm going to miss is how hard Kim works and how much she puts in and what a presence she is, you can't really put it on paper."

Downhill Ryder Album Release Show

Wed., May 24, 7-10pm

McMenamins Old St. Francis School

700 NW Bond St., Bend.

No cover.

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Anne Pick

Music Writer | The Source Weekly

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