The Slocan Ramblers, a hot young bluegrass band out of Canada, will be taking their brand of roots music into the heartland of Appalachian music this spring with a tour through the Southeastern U.S. The tour kicks off at MerleFest, the country’s largest and most prestigious roots music showcase, then wends through both Carolinas, Virginia, and Tennessee. The quartet, made up of Frank Evans (banjo, vocals), Adrian Gross (mandolin), Darryl Poulsen (guitar) and Alastair Whitehead (bass), won the Emerging Artist Award at the 2015 Edmonton Folk Fest.
The Toronto-based group will be touring in support of their 2015 release, Coffee Creek, produced by the band’s friend and mentor Chris Coole of The Foggy Hogtown Boys. Chris is a well-known banjo player in Toronto’s bluegrass and old-time music scenes. The album’s tracks feature the lightning fast instrumentals and honky-tonk rowdiness that have made the band favorites on the Canadian bar scene.
Coffee Creek is the band’s second album, following their debut, Shaking Down the Acorns (2012). Both albums reflect the musicians' deep respect for traditional bluegrass and roots artists. Selections range from old-time numbers like “Groundhog,” to the Woody Guthrie classic, “Pastures of Plenty.” Frank Evans, who has been playing clawhammer banjo since the age of 10, has been called one of the top banjo players of his generation by Banjo Newsletter.
As an indicator of the direction the group's music is likely to take, the Slocan Ramblers recently performed banjo master John Hartford’s groundbreaking album, Aereo-Plain, in full at a Toronto music hall. Hartford’s 1971 album broke new ground in bluegrass, combining it with the freedom that epitomized the hippie movement of the 1970s and the banjo player’s own quirky talent. Achieving cult status in the years since its release, Aereo-Plain is considered to be the founding moment in the Newgrass genre.
Despite their Canadian origin, the musicians of the Slocan Ramblers might have learned to play on the porch of a cabin in the Blue Ridge. Their blend of respect for musical tradition and willingness to push the boundaries of bluegrass ever outward should win them many fans around the South.
The Slocan Ramblers 2016 Southeastern United States tour dates include:
April 28-29 — MerleFest, Wilkesboro, N.C.
May 1 — White Horse Black Mountain, Black Mountain, N.C.
May 4 — Wolf Hills Brewing Co., Abingdon, Va.
May 5 — The Downhome, Johnson City, Tenn.
May 6 — Jig and Reel, Knoxville, Tenn.
May 7 — Feed and Seed, Fletcher, N.C.
May 8 — Ervin House Concerts, Morganton, N.C.
May 11 — House Concert, New Bern, N.C.
May 12 — R.A. Fountain, Fountain, N.C.
May 13 — Palmetto Brewing Company, Charleston, S.C.
May 13 — The Southern Bar & Grill, Mt Pleasant, S.C.
May 14 — Birdfest, Panola, S.C.
May 15 — Rooster’s Wife, Aberdeen, N.C.
May 17 — RadLiCoaux House Concerts, Radford, Va.
May 18 — Prism Coffeehouse, Charlottesville, Va.
May 19 — High Point Arts Council, High Point, N.C.
May 20 — Evening Muse, Charlotte, N.C.
May 21 — Cowee School, Franklin, N.C.
May 24 — Isis Restaurant & Music Hall, Asheville, N.C.
For additional information, visit the Slocan Ramblers website.