The Strumbellas

Alt-country sing-alongs.

The Strumbellas Podcast Episode 1 - Junos

Welcome to the inaugural Strumbellas’ podcast.  We (Dave and Izzy) are kicking off this first episode by taking you to the 2014 Junos. We brought along a microphone to the awards, and we’ll take you through the weekend.

Stay tuned for more episodes!

Darryl, Jer, and Dave at the Gala

Ammaye at the 2014 Junos

Check out our new video for “Sailing” of our Juno winning album, “We Still Move On DanceFloors” 


Canada is teeming with the sounds of alt-country, and audiences are loving it. The Strumbellas, the part bluegrass, part alt-country, party folk six-piece group has been touring cross country playing everything from back rooms to the festival circuit (including CMW, NXNE, Pop Montreal, Eaglewood and Hillside in Guelph). In 2012 their debut disc My Father And The Hunter was honoured with a Juno nomination in the Roots & Traditional Album of the Year category, alongside Canadian powerhouses The Wooden Sky, Great Lake Swimmers, Elliot Brood, and Le Vent du Nord. This large band of friends, uses harmonies, hollers and heartbreaking melodies to tell their stories. Now working on their sophomore album and getting set to hit the road again, Roots speaks with singer Simon Ward (and his son Theo), pianist Dave Ritter, and violinist Izzy Ritchie at their favourite jam space The Cameron House.

Q: Let’s start out with the hard question. The Juno’s - you were in a really tough category and they say it’s just an honour to be nominated, but what was it really like?

Simon: Well initially we were at the Juno’s and we were so excited to be nominated with these unbelievably cool bands. Then we lost - and we freaked out in the parking lot - started throwing stuff [Laughs]….

We got over it and had the craziest, best weekend of all time. Yes we did lose, but did you get to go to Jim Cuddy’s crazy hotel party - probably not. It was an amazing weekend - and we don’t care that we lost now - we got to meet so many crazy cool people.

Dave: The cliche is that it is an honour to be nominated - but we were honoured to be nominated with our bands. The Wooden Sky, Great Lake Swimmers, Elliot Brood, Le Vent du Nord… that, it seems, was the real prize. We are mostly just excited about that.

Q: Tell me about the process of creating your albums. Who starts with the theme is there always a concept? Where do you begin?

Dave: I try to pick out the most painful episodes from Simon’s life that I can [Laughs], and then I make him write a series of songs about it. And it takes months. It’s terrifying.

Simon: Ya, I am actually a very happy positive guy, it is Dave that wants me to talk about my dead dad…..

The album starts out me in my apartment, alone in the dark… in the fetal position, at midnight on Tuesday’s. After the initial demos, we go to the Jam space - everyone starts contributing their parts and then it goes into the studio - it is a three stage process for us so far. That is the way the second album is going as well. We call it the Three Stage Strumbella’s Song Writing Process. [Laughs] Trademarked.

Q: What are you working on right now? When can we expect a new album?

Well, I have heard people say that there is a positive outlook on life some human beings have so I am doing my best to try and write music with that in mind. The new album is in the works - we already have four songs done - it is being recorded at Bear Creek in Seattle and with the producer of The Lumineers Ryan Hadlock and it is halfway done and we are finishing it this summer and releasing it in the fall.

Izzy: And we have the new single that is out now. We are really excited about the new material - and liking what we have so far and excited to finish it up and get it out there.

Q: Simon, I read that Windsurfers is about growing up at your cottage. That’s very Canadian imagery. What was that like?

Simon: My grandparents bought this cottage on a lake for $10,000 in 1970 and I have the fondest most amazing memories about that cottage. And I wanted to write a song about it - it was the most fantastic way to grow up. My goal is to buy that cottage back before I die. It was unfortunately sold - and I am going to buy that cottage back someday.

Q: You guys have been all over the country and seen every little part of the Canada. What does being Canadian? How does it influence you life?

Dave: This is a great question for Izzy, being American, she is more enthusiastic about being Canadian than anyone! Her adopted Canadian-ness is so joyful.

Izzy: Wow, no pressure. Touring the country has been a great opportunity to see the landscape and the diversity across the land.

Dave: Izzy loves being Canadian. She just got her permanent residency. Woo Hoo.

Dave: One thing about touring the county, I have seen more in terms of miles in the last two years than I have in the rest of my life. In some ways I am really jealous of bands in the UK where an hour long drive is a long trip. The massiveness of the land - it is of course, gorgeous, has defined who we are as Canadians for so long.

Izzy: There is nothing like driving across the country twice in 6 months to appreciate how huge it is. It takes two days to get out of Ontario alone.

Simon: I am wearing a Canada hat, and plaid. Always plaid.

The Strumbellas: A Year in Review

It’s been a busy year for us in Strumbellas’ land.  An album release, 2 cross-Canada tours, and recording already starting for album number 2!  Before we get back to work in 2013, we’re pausing to reflect back on what made 2012 The Year of The Strumbellas.

Favourite Gig
Jer: Hillside, Guelph
Izzy: Lydia’s in Saskatoon 
Darryl: The Electric Owl - Van City
Dave: CD Release Show, Rivoli, Toronto 
Simon: moose jaw
Jon: The Townehouse Tavern in Sudbury, Ont

Favourite Town
Jer: Saskatoon, SK
Izzy: Saskatoon, SK
Darryl: Nelson, BC
Dave: Woodinville, WA
Simon: Toronto, ON
Jon: Harrison Hot Springs, B.C.

Favourite Van Album
Jer: My ‘Sly and the Curtis Wonder’ mix
Izzy: Lost Channels - Great Lake Swimmers
Darryl: The Place I Left Behind – Deep Dark Woods
Dave: Earthworm Heart – The Tom Fun Orchestra
Simon: Cold Fact – Rodriguez
Jon: Come Away with ESG – ESG

Favourite Meal
Jer: Sunyam Thai Restaurant, Harrison Hot Springs (Dragon Ribs, what’s up?)
Izzy: Casa del Popolo, Montreal
Darryl: Thai - Harrison hot springs
Dave: Pulled Pork w/ bacon-wrapped grilled corn on the cob - The Palomino, Calgary
Simon: Tacos in Edmonton (Tres Carnales)
Jon: Dinner with Beth’s parents in Sault Ste. Marie

Favourite Host/Promoter
Jer: Jenny - Penticton
Izzy: Jesse - Slice, Lethbridge
Darryl: Tim - Harrison hot springs
Dave: Craig Laskey - The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto
Simon: Danni Bauer and Camp Clothing
Jon: Cosmo at The Cameron House

Best Drive
Jer: 3A along Kootenay Lake
Izzy: Lake Superior between T Bay and Sault Ste Marie
Darryl: Anywhere in the prairies
Dave: Approaching Canmore, AB from the east
Simon: from Downtown Calgary to the Calgary airport
Jon: Pentiction BC to Calgary

Worst Drive
Jer: Crowsnest Pass, BC
Izzy: Ice Fog in Manitoba
Darryl: Harrison Hot Springs to Penticton, BC
Dave: The second day driving with no heat – Brandon to Winnipeg, MB
Simon:  From Toronto to Vancouver
Jon: Anywhere in the Prairies during winter with no heat in the van

Biggest Surprise
Jer: I never had to be taken back to my room on a luggage cart.
Izzy: That we literally only met nice people on our tour out west.  
Darryl: havin cousin davey tour with the band from fernie to Nelson 
Dave: my mom likes our album (sort of)
Simon: Didn’t die in the mountains
Jon: Falling in love with the funky beats of ESG. Spoiler alert: Repeated listens yield diminishing returns of radical.

Video Numero Dos in our “Meet the Strumbellas” series.

Meet Simon.

Meet Dave! We’ve been working with Smiling Stranger Productions to put together a series of videos that introduce each band member.  Stay tuned for the next 5 Mondays to see more Strumbellas!

Rawktumblr: The Reasonable Person's Guide to Supporting Music/The Reasonable Band's Guide to Selling It

Food for thought… for bot the consumer and musicians in us.


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(via rawkblog-deactivated20131111)