No Miss for Leaving Thomas
Singer/songwriter duo’s first headlining show sold out this month
Masha Scheele, Layout Editor
Whether it’s for a brand new pet or picking up a new moniker, naming something is more difficult than it seems. Finding something that you’ll still love several years from now takes a lot of thought and for Bryton Baynes and Annika Odegard, naming their new band was no easy task.
“When we were trying to figure out a name we were just throwing out random ideas, streets that we had written songs on, and stuff like that. Nothing really clicked and it wasn’t really personal. And I asked her what her middle name was and she said ‘Liv’ and I was like ‘okay, well mine’s Thomas, what about Leaving Thomas?’ and we just said ‘Okay!’” said Baynes.
On Jan. 15, Leaving Thomas performed their first headlining show at Festival Hall in Inglewood. The sold-out show squeezed 185 people into the intimate performance space after the duo requested extra tickets. Baynes and Odegard make up the energetic contemporary folk/pop/country-esque duo.. During the show Odegard mentioned one of their inspirations, James Bay while Baynes later compared themselves to performers like Ed Sheeran.
Together they had only performed one show as an opener for Maddison Krebs at Wine-Ohs last April. But because of their busy schedules, as Baynes is taking Marketing at MRU and Odegard was away to perform on cruise ships, they weren’t able to put another show together until this month.
“It was awesome to get on stage, and play all these songs that we had written over the past year and a half,” said Baynes “It was cool that [people] were excited, and we just had a blast.”
Mitch Belot, opened up the show with his energetic rock flare and powerful voice, warming up the crowd as Leaving Thomas including Conlan Wiebe on drums, Robert Rooke on guitar and Kyle Tully on bass got ready to perform. Odegard kept the audience involved with her animated stories and energetic personality. Half way through the show Baynes and Odegard took the tempo down a notch and played some acoustic songs telling personal stories like Baynes’s story of “the mystery blonde girl.”
Baynes and Odegard both started performing at a young age. They met at the age of nine and 11 while performing in a musical theatre show. Almost 12 years passed before they would finally get together to write and perform music as a duo. They reconnected through the 2012 Calgary Stampede talent search and two years later after a volunteer event for the Storybook Theatre Society, Leaving Thomas began to become a reality.
In the years leading up to Leaving Thomas, Odegard had made a name for herself through performing on various cruise ships to numerous countries and winning multiple singing competitions, including placing 11th on Canadian Idol. At a young age she began taking classical piano and violin lessons with the Royal Conservatory of Music Program. Her passion for music only grew as she got older and was given the opportunity to perform in many musical theatre production shows.
Baynes took a different path to where he stands now, which is centre stage, beside Odegard, with a guitar in his hands. He continued performing at talent shows throughout school even though his focus at the time wasn’t on music, as he played in the Alberta Junior Hockey League for two years. He realized his passion wasn’t on the ice and after going back to school at MRU he knew he wanted to pursue music. At that time Odegard and Baynes started writing songs together mostly for fun, but they both knew Leaving Thomas could be something special.
Baynes said, “We just had way more fun performing together than we did individually, and writing was a lot easier. So that’s what we focused on.”
In February they will be heading down to Nashville together for 11 days to write songs and to meet label companies to see if they’re interested and decide on their next step. They hope to return from Nashville with at least five new songs to keep their music careers moving. Additionally, Leaving Thomas will be opening for a folk band called The Once in Medicine Hat on April 1 at the Esplanade theatre.
“We’re just kind of riding the wave,” said Baynes “A lot of doors have opened up in the past year and a half and we’re going to ride that wave until it dies.”