Shred Kelly bring Stoke Folk to province

With so much new music falling under the folk category of late, Fernie, B.C.'s Shred Kelly had to come up with its own genre, just to differentiate the band from the pack. After all, there's no question they do sound very different. There's not many folk bands featuring a synth player, yet most rock bands don't feature a front man with a banjo. "We have a big rock sound to us," agrees banjo player and singer Tim Newton. "We're becoming a rock band with a banjo rather than a folk band. I like to thing of us as the perfect mix of rock sounds with traditional ones. That's why we came up with the title Stoke Folk."

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The group's third album, Sing To The Night, has just been released, and they are heading out on a cross-country tour that bring them to New Brunswick later this month. Since the band formed, they've developed a strong reputation for their energetic live shows, featuring their evolving sound. With each new disc, they've been adding to the traditional side, and trying to see where Stoke Folk would lead them. So the music on Sing To The Night is further away from the usual folk definition than ever. "We are really excited about the album because we wanted to bring the same energy as our live show, stoke folk if you will, to it," says Newton. "We wanted to bring in some of our favourite '70's and '80's sounds so you'll hear a lot of analogue synth in it. I started right away with looping the synth to my banjo. There was some in our last album, but we really brought it out this time."

Synth, keyboards and the rest of the vocals are handled by Sage McBride, which gives the group three distinct vocal approaches; boy, girl or together. Newton's happy that McBride has taken on much of the vocal focus in the band. "I don't think we've ever put a number on how many I should sing or she should, but it's just come naturally," he says. "When we started, I was doing most of the writing, so I sang most, but she's really been stepping up the last two albums. She actually sings one more than I do on the new album."

McBride handles the sweet vocals on Paperweights, a slow-burning track that begins as an acoustic number, but explodes with pounding drums, a huge bed of hand claps, harmonies, synth and furious banjo. The Newton-sung Person of Heart switches from dreamy quiet to raunchy chords, as close to a prog epic as a banjo band has ever been. Nobody will ever accuse this band of being derivative. Shred Kelly will be at the Parkindale Hall in Albert County on Wednesday, February 11, at Plan B in Moncton on Friday the 13th (eek!) and at The Capital in Fredericton on Saturday, Valentine's Day.

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About Bob Mersereau

Rockin' BobBob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).

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