Established in 2012, The Barrel Boys are a 5-piece string band based in Toronto, Ontario. The band’s sound is built around rich vocal harmonies and virtuosic instrumentals, and their repertoire finely balances standard tunes with their own original writing. Their instrumentation lends itself to classic bluegrass, but they are also fluent in old time, classic country, and Americana, and their original material is informed by all of these styles. Each of the 5 members writes and sings their own tunes, making for a wide stylistic range within the band’s sound.
The O’Pears are a Toronto-based contemporary folk trio made up of Lydia Persaud, Jill Harris and Meg Contini, three songwriters who weave stories that stir the spirit and capture the timeless character of folk music. Like Those Nights, their debut album, captures soaring harmonies and a seamless blend, evoking the profound intimacy of Nick Drake, the sister-like blend of The Staves and the dynamic harmony of Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Live performances turn the loudest bar into the warmest house concert, with their endearing, unabashed personalities balancing the intimate sincerity of the songs. They recently performed to high acclaim at festivals such as Summerfolk, Great Heart Festival, Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival, garnered radio play across Canada, including CBC, and have been featured live with Royal Wood, Good Lovelies, Michelle Willis, and Coco Love Alcorn. Each band member a distinctly talented musician with a stand-alone voice, style, and stage presence, when these three come together it is breathtaking. A striking mix of tight a cappella and rootsy instrumentation, Like Those Nights explores lessons learned about love and loss through the eyes and hearts of young Canadian storytellers. The O’Pears continue to bring a strong, honest voice to the modern female perspective.
Whether he’s playing with his own solo band or other various outfits, he can’t be kept off Canadian stages. Ryan puts most of his energy in his passion for studying acoustic traditional blues, jazz and old time music. This led him to spending a winter in New Orleans where he wrote the majority of the material featured on Steppin’ Down South. This album is saturated with the sounds and rhythm of New Orleans streets.
There once was an era when records were made in castles, abandoned airplane hangars, barns, or on a yacht off the coast of the Bahamas, its passengers as high as paper kites. This is not that record! It is an album that came together from the desire for companionship, the endless pursuit of tone, the strength and glue of family, and above all, the love and admiration for each other’s skills. Whether it was operating a tape machine with Jedi precision, creating meals that fuelled us, or belting out glass shattering ohs and ahs, it was the elbow grease of many individuals that brought this project to life. – The Harpoonist & The Axe Murdere
Kat Danser’s music navigates a paddle steamer from the muddy banks of the Mississippi Delta downriver toward a big ol’ full moon over New Orleans. Dubbed ‘Queen of the Swamp Blues’, this Edmonton-based guitar slinger, songsmith, and blazing vocalist channels the spirit of roots, blues and gospel music pioneers.
Her fourth album, Baptized by the Mud, is a collaboration between Danser and Juno-award winning producer Steve Dawson. The recording addresses the dichotomy of ‘church-blues’: blues music as devilish and church music as angelic. This sub-genre demonstrates that human truth and the divine are one in the same – “one is preached from behind the pulpit and the other from behind the plow”.
William Prince is a JUNO Award winning singer-songwriter from Peguis First Nation. William sidesteps clichés to provoke thought and facilitate discovery. His baritone vocals pay tribute to his late father and his genuine delivery acknowledges the hundreds of hours he’s spent on the stage. Prince’s debut album, Earthly Days, produced by long-time collaborator Scott Nolan, was released in December 2015 to critical acclaim. William has recently performed in the U.S. and the U.K., and has a full summer touring across Canada as well as a first appearance at Denmark’s Tønder festival.
Their upcoming collection offers a perfect balance between a more modern production style and the wholesome musical influences that have made them a household name over the years. What’s more, the songs themselves build on the Good Lovelies’ familiar foundation with a widespread appeal.
If what happens next goes according to plan, though, the Good Lovelies will see their profile propelled to new heights thanks to a contemplative creative approach and a new spin on the signature sound that’s earned them audiences and accolades the world over. The music, the album, and the trio – all are greater than the sum of their individual parts. Simply, that’s the Good Lovelies