The Real Shade (formerly "Shade") was started by singer/songwriter Jane Gowan. In 2006, not long after her 40th birthday, Jane moved from her hometown of Vancouver, to Toronto (for love, not money). She bid farewell to the cherished bandmates and musical partnerships that she'd formed over 20 years, and—once settled—decided to start a new band.

Enter bassist and singer Mary Harmer (Weeping Tile). Jane and Mary were introduced by a mutual friend, and the two began rehearsing as a duo. They became musical sisters pretty quickly, and the songs started to take shape.

One night after seeing a Violet Archers show at the Cameron House, Mary introduced Jane to their drummer Cam Giroux (Oh Susanna, Sarah Harmer, etc.). Cam and Mary had played together in Weeping Tile, so when Mary suggested he join Shade, Cam readily agreed, even before he'd heard their music. It became clear after few rehearsals that Cam was the perfect addition - his innate understanding of Jane's songs, plus the energy and humour he brought to the group, really took things up a notch. When Cam was on the road with other bands, Mary and Jane's good friend David Kitching subbed in. There was momentum. 

Enter musical Jedi, Tim Vesely (Rheostatics, The Violet Archers). One night Tim showed up at a gig, and liked the songs. So Jane got up the nerve to ask him if he'd consider recording some stuff, and he said "sure." Not long after, the first album Highway was recorded at The Tragically Hip’s Bathouse Studio with Tim at the helm. Since then, Vesely has become an integral part of The Real Shade - playing drums, guitar and piano, in addition to his engineering and production roles.

During the Highway sessions, Jane began to face up to the fact that her guitar style was pretty basic, better suited to steady rhythm rather than funky riffs and fancy licks - enter the lead guitarists. Johnny James came on board first, and brought some beautifully agile chops to the table. However, a change of careers caused Johnny to leave after a short time, and he was replaced by the soulful shredder and all-round rock 'n roll mastermind Gord Tough (Kathleen Edwards, Sarah Harmer). Jane now officially had her dream band.

When it came time to record Horizon Diaries, the multi-talented Don Kerr (Ron Sexsmith, Rheostatics, Communism) was hired. The bed tracks were recorded by Don at his home studio (Rooster Studios). Aside from engineering the album, Don also played drums, cello and sang backup vocals. 

The Real Shade also has a Vancouver contingent that toured as Shade West in 2011. Past and present Shade "Westers" include guitarist Jon Wood (Flophouse Jr., Cam Penner), guitarist/singer Belinda Bruce, bassist Ryen Froggatt (Mazinaw, Rich Hope), and singer/songwriter Llynn Kellman


Jane learned piano at an early age, but began her performance and songwriting career playing accordion in the folk group Fear of Drinking.  While attending the Jazz studies program at Vancouver Community College in 1993, she met singer Koralee Tonack, and the two formed the parlour duo Time Waits. Over time, more friends joined, and the duo morphed into a 6-piece pop group, and changed its name to Spygirl.

Over the years Jane has also been a sidewoman for Belinda Bruce, The Neins Circa, and Little Wonder (fronted by Jon Wood of Flophouse Jr.). Other projects include: The Jane be Janes, The Auster Sisters, The Gutenbergs, Time Waits & the Eventually Brothers, Blue Plate Special, The Montcrest Big Band, and The Jazz Generation. Jane plays piano, accordion, trumpet and guitar. 


Singer/Songwriters: Gram Parsons, Lucinda Williams, Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann, Bob Dylan, Joe Jackson, Nick Drake, Gord Downie, Ronnie Lane, Gillian Welch, Paul Weller, Bruce Springsteen, Jeff Buckley, Beck, Elliott Smith.

Bands: Calexico, The Byrds, Pink Floyd, The Violet Archers, The Velvet Underground, The Pretenders, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Los Lobos, Portishead.


The Real Shade's music appears in the following TV series:

Portlandia: Season 3, Episode 5 "Squiggleman" | "Does it Matter", (One Last Show of Hearts)

Mind of a Chef: Season 1 Episode 14 "Sweet Spot" | "What I Mean" (Highway)

Nascar Race Hub: Episode 51  | "Tried Too Hard" (One Last Show of Hearts)

Min Hemlighet (Sweden): Episode 112 | "Peace of Mind" (One Last Show of Hearts)

Bem Vindos a Beirais (Portugal) |  "Peace of Mind" (One Last Show of Hearts)

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