Gig Seeker Pro


Orillia, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Orillia, Canada | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Duo Americana Folk




"Album of the Year Nominee"

From the many albums featured on Blues & Roots Radio in 2018 we asked a panel of jurors from the station based around the world to pick twenty to go forward to be considered for the 2nd annual Blues & Roots Radio Worldwide Album of The Year Award 2018

Nominees include:

Rum Ragged
Kellie Loder
Spencer MacKenzie
Lloyd Spiegel - Winner 2018
Crystal Shawanda
Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar
Merry Hell
Glenn Skuthorpe
Track Dogs
Steve Dawson
Leeroy Stagger
Shemekia Copeland
The Fugitives
Suzie Vinnick
Trevor Babajack Steger
Chris Okunbor
King Heat Ensemble
Luke Plumb & The Circuit

Blues & Roots Radio Album Of The Year Award 2017
Every Soul's A Sailor - Stephen Fearing

The inaugural award was presented to Stephen at Hugh's Room Live in Toronto, Canada in early 2018 - Blues & Roots Radio - Stevie Connor

"International Song of the Year - Semi-Finalist"

International Song Contest

Category Semi-Finalists

Listed in no particular order

Marni Sheehan & Mark Smith - My Friend ( Australia )

VK - Terms & Conditions ( Canada )

Declan Cosgrove Duo - So Much To Smile About ( Ireland )

Charm Of Finches - The Bridge ( Australia )

Sadie & Jay - Trinity ( Australia ) - Blues & Roots Radio Worldwide

"Terms & Conditions Album Review"

Review: VK, “Terms And Conditions”
VK - Terms and Conditions

As music bloggers, we are always happy to share the music of artists both firmly established and previously unknown to us. Social media has led us to many new artists from all over Canada, and recently, musicians have discovered our little blog and made contact with us to ask if we’d be interested in listening to their music. This was certainly the case recently when the husband and wife duo of Steve and Marni Van Kessel (collectively called ‘VK’) made our acquaintance online, and told us about their brand new release “Terms and Conditions.” Receiving this correspondence whilst wrapping up our 2017 year end articles, I made it a priority to give this album a spin once we made it into the New Year.

Hailing from Orillia, ON, Steve and Marni appear to be no strangers to their local music scene, with a list of appearances around Cottage Country and even Mariposa. However, if there was ever an opportunity to connect with a much wider audience, “Terms and Conditions” offers a solid foundation upon which to spread their wings and share their material. I would consider this album to be established firmly within the folk-roots genre, but there are plenty of rock and country influences to keep the listener engaged for all nine tracks. Indeed, the strength of Steve Van Kessel’s lead vocal abilities, along with Marni’s pitch-perfect harmonies and choices of instrumentation, further enable this connection between the listener and the music.

Launching immediately into “What Makes Sense,” the organ introduction certainly caught my attention with similarities to the opening notes of Joe Cocker’s “With a little help from my friends” – at least up until Steve has delivered his opening lines. From there, VK offers a folk number that offers hints of alt-country and some discreet, yet simply stunning fiddle playing. Further nods to old-country influences can be found across the album, from the guitar and harmonica laced “I’ve Learned A Lot” to the wonderful inclusion of pedal steel during “Take The Chance.”

If you are looking for more than a folk-country sound, go ahead and skip to “Common Ground.” Accompanied by just a simple guitar and organ combination, the beat conjures up hints of pop-rock sounds from decades past. And as for that organ, wait until you arrive at the 1:30 mark of this one to be totally rocked by that retro sound. The title track may appear to be a traditional folk number, but the strength of Steve’s vocals and polished production give this one a very mainstream appeal. Opening with the lines “She had her reasons for being deceiving / She didn’t know where they were going / A love that was blind, she played with his mind / He was better for not ever knowing,” the instrumental development of the strings absolutely grab your attention, until the gentle piano strokes return your sense of ease once more.

If you are looking for even more versatility within their music, cue “Even The Devil Cries,” where crying fiddles and a slow acoustic pace offer a dark and moody sentiment from the very start. Of course, with this tone and pace, what better way for Steve to once again demonstrate his powerful vocal prowess, delivering lines such as “What’s right is wrong / These nights are long / Oh, please help me hang on.” Pay extra attention to Marni’s backing vocals here too, where her voice provides the soothing accompaniment to Steve’s expression of lost love and pain.

All nine tracks on “Terms and Conditions” are delightful, but “Edge Of The World” is the one song that stands out for me. “A gentle breeze blowing / The sun sets to the sea / A calmness we feel as we set our minds free” are the gently delivered lyrics to open the song, accompanied by strings and keyboards that instantly paint this as a traditional folk-inspired number. That is, at least, until you reach the 2:15 mark, when the instruments receive a new and fresh lease of life. The keyboards and guitar quickly develop an up-tempo rock beat, and are joined shortly after by both Steve’s dominant vocals and additional harmonies. At the peak of its momentum, VK rapidly wind the instrumentation back down to the earlier mellow pace, simultaneously returning your pulse to normal and guiding you onwards toward the finale. “Terms and Conditions” is an impressive album from this duo, and while I am grateful that they chose to share this with us, I really hope that many others take the opportunity to spend some time with this one. Highly recommended.

~ M - Great Dark Wonder - Martin Noakes

"Blues & Roots Radio - Terms & Conditions Album Review"


Label: 112 Records
Album: Terms & Conditions
Tracks : 9

Orillia is the home to Canada's oldest and ongoing folk festival, Mariposa has seen some huge names from a multitude of genres grace it's stages, and Orillia just happens to be the birthplace of one of Canada's household names in the music industry, Gordon Lightfoot still makes regular visits to his home town, especially for the Mariposa Folk Festival, so the calibre of music that has and still does emanate from this small town in Southern Ontario is an indicator that something special happens around these parts.

VK are Steve and Marni Van Kessel, born and bred in the town, they've raised a family here, are part of the fabric of the community itself, and especially the music community. Terms & Conditions is the latest release by VK and a step up from their previous work. They've drawn on the small town charm and sense of community which has inspired the songwriting and music on the album, and, there is also the surrounding scenery of the area with the beautiful lakes and valleys that could not help but be inspirational. There is also an influence from the close proximity to the city of Toronto, which is a melting pot of culture, musical diversity and all round coolness, it's certainly lent it's experiences to this release

The songs on Terms & Conditions are intimate in their content, the instrumentation and harmonies compliment this creating a good listening experience, with violin, cello and steel pedal guitar added to the mix it has created a unique sound and direction for VK. Having the ability to work on this album in their home recording studio ( 112 Record Studio's ), afforded them the time to relax and record in a laid back atmosphere and focus on the lyrical content, and Steve has to be commended on the overall production, he has managed to capture the essence of some of his musical inspirations such as Ryan Adams, Jason Isbell with a nod to earlier influences like Neil Young's Harvest years.

' What Makes Sense ' is the first track on the album and is Steve's observations on some relationships he has witnessed that have failed, and the different reasons that have caused the break ups. The melancholic atmosphere of the instrumentation makes this track a stand out.

' Terms & Conditions ' another track of note is about love and the fact that all loving relationships start off in a magical free and flowing way, but after a period of time every relationship ends up having Terms & Conditions applied, whether that be with a lover, a child or a parent and it begs the answer to the question of how individuals allow those conditions to grow and influence the relationships.

VK have obviously worked hard on developing their sound, it sits somewhere between roots, americana, folk, singer / songwriter and fits comfortably within each genre, that is no mean feat. in itself, giving them a broad range of potential listeners who will enjoy this release.

These songs make you think deeply, Steve Van Kessel is a fabulous songwriter and has given much food for thought on this album, he cites a definitive moment when he heard Ian Tyson and Jim Cuddy ( Blue Rodeo ) perform at a songwriters event, he was inspired to lift his guitar up and begin to write again after many years of concentrating on providing for his family, it's a blessing to us that he did so, and that in Marni Van Kessel he has the perfect partner to provide the harmonies, enthusiasm and support for a project that we are only just scratching the surface of. With news that another release may soon be in the offing, do yourself a favour and get acquainted with the work of VK, it will not disappoint. There are Terms & Conditions on everything in life, this is the perfect album to sum all that up.

Stevie Connor

​ - Blues & Roots Radio - Stevie Connor

"VK Terms & Conditions Album Review"

Review – VK
By Carson Rowsell on January 31, 2018

Album: Terms & Conditions
Release Date: Available Now
Genre: Folk

VK is a duo comprised of Steve & Marni Van Kessel, which makes up the VK in their name. Hailing from Orillia, Ontario, the duo has one of the most unique sounds I’ve heard in a long time. They released their latest full-length album “Terms & Conditions” in November of last year.

As soon as the first song “What Makes Sense” started, Steve’s unique voice instantly had me hooked. I turned it on and as soon as he sang, I noticed that it sounded so much like mainstream country, with a hint of Elvis thrown in. The music can be explained as easy listening, with each song telling it’s own story and creating something new for the listener.

This release is one of those “sit back & relax” albums. The amazing vocals from Steve and the music from both Steve & Marni are one of the purest mixes of music I’ve heard in a long time.

“Edge of the World” was an instant favourite. Steve’s lead vocals and Marni’s backing vocals mixed with the beautiful music make it stand out. Followed by “Take The Chance”, which has a darker tone but with a positive message.

I can tell you this is an album unlike what you've heard before. The true, unhindered talent from both musicians was a most welcomed surprise, and I will certainly be adding it to my collection. - Canadian Beats - Carson Rowsell

"VK Terms & Conditions Album Review"


Artist Name: VK

Album Name: Terms & Conditions

Label: 112 Records

Genre: Americana/Folk

Track Listing: 1. What Makes Sense; 2. Terms & Conditions; 3. Even the Devil Cries; 4. Edge of the World; 5. Take the Chance; 6. Common Ground; 7. Never Afraid; 8. I’ve Learned a Lot; 9. Radiate and Glow

Publicist: Self-promoted

Review: Mellow folk/Americana is what you will get from VK. The title track adds in piano and fiddle and has a sound reminiscent of a carnival. The vocals are smooth and mellow, with well-crafted lyrics and musical accompaniment that take the entire Americana sound to a new and different level. This is definitely one of those albums you put on, sit back and relax, allowing the mellow sound to ease your troubled mind.

Recommendation: We can guarantee you don’t have anything like this in your music library, so do yourself a favor and Get it. - Indie Music Blog - LA Music Critic

"Artist Review VK - Music from the heart began with high school serenade for Orillia couple"

Music from the heart began with high school serenade for Orillia couple

Americana-style folk roots duo recorded album at home studio
Feb 16, 2018 by Frank Matys Orillia Today

Americana with a Canadian twist.
Steve and Marni Van Kessel, a folk roots duo based in Orillia, recently released "Terms and Conditions" under the name VK. The album was recorded in their home studio. - Frank Matys/Metroland

Steve and Marni Van Kessel were destined to make beautiful music together.

That much was evident when Steve, then in high school, sang to his future wife while both were attending Orillia’s Park Street Collegiate Institute.

“He serenaded me a few times on the phone,” Marni recalled with a smile.

It wasn’t until nearly two decades into their marriage, while Steve was laying down tracks with his roots-oriented band VK and the Narrows, that Marni stepped up to the mic.


Kidney care benefits from digital upgrade at Orillia hospital
“Halfway through the session, she went, ‘You know, that is something I think I’d love to try, is to put down a harmony vocal on some of these songs’,” he said. “She nailed it.”

The couple would go on to perform publicly together and have now released an album as the duo VK.

Recorded in their home studio over two years, "Terms and Conditions" was released on the couple’s independent label 112 Records.

“Our whole presentation is very strongly dependent on the connection between us,” Steve said of the dynamic that developed between them. “A lot of (the album) is about the experience of love and the years that we have seen all these things occur.”

Acoustic at its heart, the album is fleshed out by a handful of supporting musicians who add tasteful flourishes on piano, bass, Hammond organ, drums, steel guitar, harmonica, violin, and cello.

“For a lot of this album it was just seeing where they could take a part and have it fit in,” Steve said.

The result is Americana-style roots music with a distinctly Canadian flavour and warmth that’s topped with memorable harmonies.

Thematically, the music takes the listener on a journey over nine songs, a number of which draw their inspiration from Steve’s brother-in-law, who has ALS, also know as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

“It has been a pretty significant factor in our lives, just seeing the challenges that him and his family have been going through,” he said.

Added Marni: “There is definitely some emotion in the songs.”

‘Terms and Conditions’ is available at Alleycats Music and Art in Orillia, and through online music services such as Spotify. - Simcoe.com/Orillia Today - Frank Matys


Still working on that hot first release.



Meet VK:

An Americana folk roots duo, with a unique style and sound, inspired by small town Canada, and made up of husband and wife team Steve and Marni Van Kessel — VK to you and a growing number of folk.

VK makes music a vitally important part of their lives. More importantly, their music has the potential and the power to be part of your life.

The songs come from a personal past. Steve is the singer, songwriter and guitarist and Marni’s soaring voice complements the songs perfectly. The pair also co-founded their label,112 Records.

They have two albums, so far.  VK and The Narrows released a 2014 debut — a band project — called Doin’ Just Fine, which was a perfect description of the music and the Van Kessel family dynamic. It was a notable mixture of old-school rock and roll and “Americana” with heart, passionate vocals, super-clean production, and superb musicianship. Think Blue Rodeo rather than Wilco; think the Hip rather than the Drive by Truckers.

And now there’s a brand-new record called Terms & Conditions. With more emphasis on thoughtful, hooky roots songs and the pair’s powerful vocals, the album seems more personal, and more “relatable” to the listener. There’s an intimacy, a warmth that brings the songs directly to your heart…

The supporting musicians give resonance to the songs on the record, but the duo’s live performances bring the songs even more directly to listeners.

The terms & conditions?

Work. Play. Dance.

Make music from the heart.

That’s what VK does.


And discover.

Band Members