The D'Aoust Brothers, Ryan and Clayton (daoustbrothers.webs.com)
Norway House's D'Aoust Brothers are slowly becoming one of the premiere acts in the aboriginal country music scene.
For two consecutive weeks they've held number one spot on the National Aboriginal Music Countdown with their single "Music Man." And now the brothers are ready to keep the momentum going with a performance for industry big-wigs at Manitoba Music's Native American North Showcase at the Pyramid on Saturday, March 24.
The showcase will be hosted by CBC's Sheila North Wilson and will feature several emerging acts including Desiree Dorion, Jerry Sereda, Lorenzo and Savannah Rae Boyko.
While the D'Aoust Brothers are part of this emerging list, these boys are no beginners. Clayton D'Aoust was one of the frontman of Highway 373, the award winning rock-country outfit, while brother Ryan is a fiddling sensation, garnering numerous accolades for his skills since the age of 15.
Clayton D'Aoust found some time this week for Q & A with SCENE about playing country with his brother Ryan.
What was the music scene like growing up in Norway House?
My dad taught me guitar when I was twelve. He played fiddle, so I grew up knowing that genre. He passed away when Ryan was 8, so sadly, they never got to play together. Ryan began fiddling with the famed Frontier Fiddlers and learned all his fiddle chops from his instructors and friends. He now plays Fiddle, lead guitar, keyboard, mandolin, and is picking up the bass. We started jamming a lot early on with everyone we could -- Hector Menow, Donald Bradburn, the late great Edward Gamblin, and everyone back home we could sneak in with. They always had great advice and words of encouragement! We love those guys and have them on our stage with us as often as we can.
Being music industry veterans, with a great deal of shows under your belt, is it strange to be playing in an "emerging" music showcase ?
We're trying to establish ourselves and an "original country act", where our former band Highway 373 was a mixture of country and rock cover tunes. We had a great run with the album we released, but we never followed it up with anything. I love those guys and still gig with them from time to time, but the D'Aoust Brothers act and getting my original material out there is my main focus now.
What are some career highlights for the two of you?
Ryan won the galaxy rising star award and best fiddle album at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards (CAMA's) back in 2005 -- that was a huge honor for him. The following year, Highway 373 won best rock album at the same show. We had a lot of success very early. It was a huge confidence booster and we've been chasing success ever since!
In regard to songwriting, what comes first, the music or the lyrics?
I start with a melody and see what lyrics they inspire. It also depends what I'm listening to at the time. If I'm listening to Alan Jackson or George Strait, I can usually come up with a tune in that style. If I'm listening to Keith Urban, I can grasp his style too. Like any other writer, mood dictates everything.
What is on the horizon for the D'Aoust Brothers?
We're set to release the third single "Dancing to the Radio" in the coming weeks. It's out for mastering as we speak and we're rushing to complete the album in time for this summer. We have lots of great gigs coming up! Dauphin Countryfest is having us back this summer (yeah!), and we're also in talks with a couple big names in regard to touring as an opening act. Very excited about that!