Local Equals Awesome
The Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival is known for having world-class acts. This year is no exception, with the likes of Trey Anastasio, Steven Page, Martha Wainwright and more gracing the various stages with their presence. They like to promote local acts from Fredericton and from around the Maritimes by having them in the festival, as well.
This is not a bad thing. Fredericton has produced some amazing talent that will blow your mind. Fred-E-Scene wanted to share some of the local acts to let you know what was out there.
Local Bands Bios
Home-grown blues wonder Keith Hallett’s howlin’, growlin’ vocals and soulful, impressive guitar licks and slides have made him a staple of the East Coast blues community. After winning the 2007 CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award at Harvest, Keith released debut album Bear With Me, before setting out for Memphis and the International Blues Challenge the following year. He and his band hit the road running and never looked back, sharing stages and bills with blues greats such as Junior Watson, Buddy Guy and Sonny Landreth. Sophomore record Hell West & Crooked, released in 2015, showcases Keith’s growth as an artist who’s carved out his own remarkably unique old timey blues style. Following a breathtaking solo performance supporting Justin Townes Earle and a full band slot anchoring the Blues Court line-up in 2016, Keith will return to deliver another set of his unique brand of blues to his hometown audience.
Brent Mason is a singer-songwriter who has traversed diverse territories of tune and theme in more than 20 years of music-making, bringing back souvenirs from a range of lyrical lands, from folk and rock to pop, country and beyond, and making them all his own.
He’s something of a contradiction, that Brent: a folk singer who shuns that label, a solo performer who cares deeply about community, an instrumentalist whose guitar chops were hard-won over many years.
Mostly he’s a storyteller.
Singing or speaking, Brent Mason’s love of language shows. His live shows are legendary for their mix of narration and music, the former running from poetry to puns, the latter sampling from a menagerie of influences, from the novels of Jack Kerouac to music legends – Dylan, George Jones, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Lightnin’ Hopkins, The Band. It is easy to picture Brent playing around a campfire, or on a boxcar, or at a halfway house. He is someone for whom the open road and the characters at the margins of society have always beckoned.
The Downtown Blues Band
Formed in 1987 at a time when canned music had depressed the local live music scene and when “downtown had the blues”, the Downtown Blues Band has evolved from a casual group of like minded Blues enthusiasts to a professional R n’ B Show Band. As Carl Davies of the Saint John Telegraph Journal puts it, they’re
“a bunch of regular Frederictonians who can cook with the best of them … sending crowds home with big smiles on their faces and sore feet from too much dancing. Kind of like the Blues Brothers meet Wilson Pickett, meets Joe Cocker, the highlight is the three piece horn section that adds that little something extra to each song.
They’ve performed at every Harvest Jazz and Blues festival since the first one in 1991 and played countless bars, clubs, festivals and private events. They’ve shared the stage with Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd, and helped raise funds to dig wells, buy food for the hungry and instruments for students.
As a “Community Music Development Project” the band has links to dozens of Fredericton and Maritime groups and artists (to see who has played in the band over the years, as well as the various projects our members have been involved in, click here). As a group of seasoned professional performers, the Downtown Blues Band is at home on festival stages, bars and at community events and fundraisers.
The Crossroad Devils
The Crossroad Devils are a four-piece rock outfit based in Fredericton, New Brunswick composed of front man Richie Young (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Liam Kieth-Jacques (guitar), Patrick Gushue (bass), Riley Williams (drums), and live member Adam Tattersall (key) the band’s music is rooted in old- fashioned rock and blues jams. The Crossroad Devils have been playing in this formation for nearly nine months and are an active performing band locally and around the Maritimes. They are finalists in the 2017 Stingray Rising Star and can be seen a few times throughout the week.
Steeped in clouded nostalgia, open wounds and a weighty, permanent what-if, Brookside Mall’s sophomore effort, Preservation, releases April 14 via Front Porch Records. Gently defiant and grievously plainspoken, Preservation’s nervous pangs and vulnerable inflections are an elegy for the in-between: Though its serpentine delivery is still marred by loss and naiveté, this album clutches at acceptance rather than longing for absolution. Teeming with raw melodies that have ossified with time and distance, Preservation is anthemic, maudlin and disaffected.
City Natives is an award winning aboriginal group, consisting of four members: Beaatz, IllFundz, Gearl & BnE. Originating from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, this highly calibrated team of artists have achieved a lot in their short time of being together. Their drive, work ethic, unique style and diversity is what differentiates them from other artists. Not only have they built a name for themselves, but they’ve built a solid resume for themselves as well. From performing with acts such as Bone Thugs N Harmony, YG, SonReal and Madchild to touring Canada with Wu-Tang Clans own; Raekwon, these group of guys have solidified their reputation as established artists. In 2014, the group was nominated for “Aboriginal Recording Of The Year” with their debut album “4Kingz” and won their first East Coast Music Award. With their latest release of “Red City” being titled ‘one of the top 10 aboriginal albums of 2014,’
City Natives continue to make an impact in the Canadian hip-hop scene. As they possess the passion to pursue their dreams, do what they love, and share their talents with the world, it’s only a matter of time before we hear a lot more of City Natives. With your continuous love and support for real music and aboriginal talent, it’s only certain they will succeed.
The Tortoise, The Hare & The Millionaire
The Tortoise the Hare & the Millionaire is a blues-rock power trio from Fredericton, NB and consists of Matt Carr on guitar, lap steel, and vocals; Ted Nicholson on drums and backing vocals; and Eric Allard on bass guitar and backing vocals. Their music draws inspiration from artists such as Led Zeppelin, the Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule, the Record Company, and RL Burnside and features driving guitar solos, catchy lyrical hooks, and improvised jam breaks. The Tortoise the Hare & the Millionaire are finalists in the 2017 Stingray Rising Star.
Stephen Lewis and The Big Band of FUN
Stephen Lewis and The Big Band of FUN are a loop-based power funk trio, comprised of Stephen Lewis, Jonah Haché and Marco Lebreton. The Big Band of FUN have played every major east coast music festival, including Evolve, Folly Fest, Messtival and many more. 2016 was a breakout year for the group, who performed huge shows across the country, from wowing crowds at the Kamp Festival in British Columbia to a packed house at Toronto’s Legendary Horseshoe Tavern. The group also had international success, spending weeks touring the United States at several major music festivals, such as Disc Jam Music Festival (NY), Great North Music Festival (ME), Revive Music Fest (OH) and Just Joshin’ Music Festival (CT). Don’t miss Stephen Lewis and The Big Band of FUN’s return to the big stage at this hometown show. Get ready for fun, funk and dancing!
Matt Andersen has been enthralling audiences with his one-of-a-kind performance in North America, Europe and Australia for years. In the fall of 2015, the award-winning artist once again decamped from his New Brunswick home – this time to record his upcoming album. Produced in New York with Commissioner Gordon (Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse, KRSOne), Honest Man follows up the JUNO Award nominated Weightless and sees the songwriter pushing himself into new territory. Blessed with a rich gospel soul voice and armed with a new set of songs, Matt Andersen found a perfect partner in crime with Commissioner Gordon.
“Gordon has worked with so many different people, like Santana and Quincy Jones, on so many historic albums,” says Andersen. “He has such a great approach and was able to tie-in so many new ideas to what I’ve done in the past without losing touch with my sound.”
From writing around drum beats to bringing in a cast of players including Andy Bassford (Toots and the Maytals, Burning Spear, Natalie Merchant), Benji Bouton (Ibibio Sound Machine), Josh David Barret (The Wailers, Lauryn Hill), and Lenny Underwood (Mary J. Blige, Amy Winehouse), Honest Man expands on what we already know and love from Andersen and brings it to a new level.
“Gordon brought a drum beat to one of our first sessions that I loved, and I wrote ‘Let’s Get Back’ around it. When we tracked, we did it the same way as the others myself on acoustic guitar, Benji on electric, Josh on bass. Using beats is something I never thought I would go for. But it was a lot of fun and I’m really excited with what we recorded. If I was left up to my own devices it would have been a very different record.”
The ten songs that make up Honest Man explore both the political and the personal. The title track, cowritten with Chris Kirby, was inspired by a US political cartoon while “Let’s Get Back”, copenned with Andy Stochansky, has Andersen thinking about how his country as a nation has changed, but not for the better. “Who Are You Listening To?” was hatched with Ryan Hupman during a pre-election social media flood and emerges as rally call for people to make up their own minds and not be swung by the ‘information’ we’re being fed.
David in the Dark
Pairing melodic, sun-soaked rock with sparkling pop hooks and reverent lyrics, Fredericton’s David in the Dark is “one the greatest gifts of the year,” (Grid City Magazine). A creative, cohesive unit that’s topped regional campus radio and toured Eastern Canada relentlessly, “New Brunswick is all the better for this band,” (CBC Music). Revelling in luminous tones and auspicious timbre, debut album Fire calls to mind the urgency of summer nights while affirming David in the Dark as one of the more accomplished, dynamic and musically promising bands to rise from Atlantic Canada. Earlier this year, the group was handpicked by Converse Shoes to travel to Boston and record two songs at the tastemaking company’s Rubber Tracks Studio. More recently, David in the Dark floored their audience at the 2017 East Coast Music Week, with a blistering performance on the ECMA Mainstage in Saint John.
Latching onto the guitar at a young age, Quinn Bonnell of Burnt Church uses his fantastic instrumental ability to combine singer-songwriter stylings with blues and folk on much anticipated upcoming EP, The Night. Prior to penning his first offering, the song “I Don’t Mind,” Bonnell was a dedicated guitar player for multiple cover bands. With a number of short runs in groups from within Miramichi under his belt, he decided to embark on his own musical endeavours, drawing influences from artists ranging from John Mayer, Kings Of Leon, Radiohead and Gary Clark Jr. Completing his degree in Fredericton, Bonnell decided to bridge the gap between being an artist and a performer in 2015, by bringing his music to the stage. The Night features a driving rhythm section, steady, on-the-nose vocals and Bonnell’s masterful guitar work; he is a welcome addition to the local scene.
Harvest is pleased to present the reunion of Blind Dog, a band that played an important role in the early days of the Festival. This New Brunswick rock ‘n blues outfit spent more than a decade performing throughout the Maritimes and Maine, before disbanding at the end of 1999. From 1992-99 at Harvest, Bling Dog were headlining or sharing the stage with the likes of Eddie Kirkland, Studebaker John & The Hawks, Pinetop Perkins, The Love Dogs, Dawn Tyler Watson, Toni Lynn Washington and Mighty Sam McClain. The band created and hosted the infamous Saturday late night jam from 1995-99, bringing together local, regional, national and international musicians to thank hard working festival volunteers. The guys continued on their musical journeys in 1999, but now, after a dozen years, decided it was time for a reunion. The 2017 lineup will feature the 5 piece, 1996-98 era unit of Alan Morris, Bruce Hughes, David Cunningham, Allison Hovey and Dan Robichaud.