By KIRSTEN BOLTON
When Tom Power, host of CBC’s “Q,” says you “put on one of the most vibrant shows of acoustic music I’ve seen in some time,” and even BBC radio says “I love it — smokin’ bluegrass!” — you must be delivering up something extraordinary.
The buzz is about The Slocan Ramblers, named for British Columbia’s Slocan Valley, who have emerged from playing their brand of lightning-fast roots and bluegrass in the bars of Toronto’s Kensington Market to earning band and album of the year awards in Canada and the U.S., including from the Kentucky and Tennessee-based International Bluegrass Music Association Awards.
They take the stage at ArtSpring Thursday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m. with a rousing performance that is not to be missed.
Helmed by Frank Evans on banjo/vocals, Adrian Gross on mandolin, Darryl Poulsen on guitar/vocals, and joined by Charles James on bass/vocals, this all-Canadian ensemble digs deep into tradition while breathing new-generation energy into the genre and gaining a reputation for their electric, audience-rousing live shows.
Much like blues musicians Lloyd Spiegel and Suzie Vinnick, who were a recent community smash at ArtSpring, The Slocan Ramblers are aware of the pigeon-hole perception of their genre of music, often dismissed as “hillbilly” when it is actually intricate, soulful and complex.
“The common thing people will say is, ‘I didn’t know I liked bluegrass until I saw you guys play,’” says mandolin player Gross. “Or, the best is: ‘I don’t even like bluegrass, but I like you guys.’ They had never seen it. They never knew that they liked it. They have associations with it that were either incorrect or founded on previous experiences that they had.”
Featuring original compositions from their new album Up the Hill and Through the Fog, the band channels the past two years of some very personal losses during COVID into a surprisingly joyous collection of 12 songs intended to uplift and help make sense of the world.
True to style, they promise the classic dusty vocals, impeccable musicianship, and fun rowdy bar and dancehall vibe that converts everyone within earshot into being a lifelong fan.
Thank you to Victoria Olchowecki for sponsoring this performance.
Tickets for the show are available through the ArtSpring website or the ArtSpring box office.