City bluegrass band roams county

By Geoff Lee

April 19, 2018 2:21 PM

Supplied Photo

Toes are tapping already over news the Slocan Ramblers will be headed our way for an encore performance of their unique bluegrass and roots stylings.
The four-member band from Toronto will play their second house concert at the Balehouse in Blackfoot on May 2 starting at 7:30 p.m.
The show is part of their Western Canada pre-launch tour of their newest album Queen City Jubilee.
“We start in Regina and then kind of make our way to the coast,” said banjo player Frank Evans on a phone call from Toronto.
The plan is for Evans and bandmates Adrian Gross on mandolin, Darryl Poulsen on guitar and Alastair Whitehead the bass player to work up all the songs on the album prior to a special release show in Toronto on June 2.
He promised the audience at Balehouse will get “a sneak peak” at the album.
“We will definitely be playing songs from the new album,” he said.
The Rambers will also be selling exclusive pre-release copies of the Queen City Jubilee album along the way and hopefully attract new fans with their live performance at the Balehouse.
“We have been to the Balehouse before; it’s one of our favourite spots to come back to,” said Evans.
“It’s one of those concert series that seems to be run so well.”
Tickets are available at the Balehouse or online on the band’s website along with information about their previous album Coffee Creek released in 2015.
The Ramblers are rooted in traditional bluegrass music, but they instill both the old and the modern into their creative process.
“We do a mix I’d say 70/30 of original stuff and also we play a lot of traditional music which is sort of the common genre of music where you play old songs that don’t even have a domain attached to them or a composer,” explained Evans.
The Ramblers understand that if you polish up the music, you lose the raw excitement that makes it so vibrant during a live performance.
“They are traditional songs taking our own spin on them and it’s a fun lively show—it’s dancing music so it’s usually a pretty lively show,” said Evans.
With rave reviews from the BBC, and garnering the 2015 Edmonton Folk Fest Emerging Artist Award, the band’s live set is not to be missed.
Evans said the Ramblers love to hop in a van to play live shows and they’ll be driving together for the Blackfoot concert.
Eventually they will be heading to British Columbia and the Slocan Valley, which the band is named after.
“Our bass player has spent a lot of time in the Slocan Valley and grew up around there and that’s where the name comes from,”  explained Evans.
“It gets a little confusing when we are travelling through the Slocan Valley and we’re the Slocan Ramblers from Toronto.”
Evans said a lot of people aren’t aware that Toronto has a strong bluegrass scene, but he said there has always been a huge appetite for it.
“I think to understand the music you have to see it live,” he said.
Toronto’s Silver Dollar Room on Spadina hosted a popular weekly live bluegrass show High Lonesome Wednesday for more than 20 years until the place closed a few years ago.
“It kind of fostered a huge bluegrass community in Toronto,” he said.

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