Pigeon holes are, generally, to be avoided, especially if you are an artist – nobody wants to be predictable, taken for granted or, worst of all, be boring. Nobody will ever be able to accuse Toronto based Ronley Teper of any of those things.

The audience at The Hague’s cosy De Stamboom bar last night were not sure what they had come to see, nobody ever is. Ms Teper draws a fine line between being singer and performance artist. No two songs are alike, some are lyrical, almost poppy, others are aggressive growls performed in a Tom Waits type voice. She uses puppets and different make-ups and the line-up of her band, The Lipliners, is constantly changing, using a variety of instruments ranging from a tuba to a saw. On her Dutch dates she is accompanied by Pavel Cingl from Prague on violin and Canadian Tim Posgate on banjo and guitar and they were joined by Amsterdam-based Pit Hermans on cimbalom. The inclusion of Pit in the line-up demonstrates the liquidity and unpredictability of the show – although they have played together before, Pit had not rehearsed with them for these Dutch gigs.

Each gig, needless to say, if different. There are no rehearsals, many of the works are created right on the spot with Teper conducting and leading through theatrics, vocals, storytelling, guitar and other toys. You never know what you are going to get, but you can be absolutely sure you are going to get something.

Ms Teper and The Lipliners began over a decade ago as a monthly residency in Toronto. She invited a rotating roster of some of the city’s finest musicians, and then internationally, to publicly improvise around her storytelling.

Ronley was born in South Africa and grew up in Canada. A musician and performance artist, she has been an active member in the arts scene for over two decades. Over this time, she has recorded five independent LP’s, composed and performed works for puppet theatre and has had musical placements in television, documentary films and even video games.

This style of performance may not be everyone’s cup of tea but, regardless of what your cup of tea is, you can be pretty sure that Ronley Teper and  The Lipliners will supply it somewhere in their set. If you don’t get a chance to see her live there are lots of excellent and original video clips available on YouTube.    Michael Hasted   6th December 2019

Listen (at 13.50) to the ArtsTalk Radio exclusive interview with Ronley Teper