About

Slocan-12

The Slocan Ramblers are Canada’s young bluegrass band to watch. Rooted in the tradition, fearlessly creative, and possessing a bold, dynamic sound, The Slocans (2015 Edmonton Folk Fest Emerging Artist Award recipients), have quickly become a leading light of Canada’s roots music scene, built on their reputation for energetic live shows, impeccable musicianship and their uncanny ability to convert anyone within earshot into a lifelong fan.

On their new album, Coffee Creek (2015) The Slocan Ramblers blend lightning fast and devilishly intricate instrumentals with the sawdust-thick vocals of singer Frank Evans, who takes lead on songs ranging from rowdy old-time numbers like “Groundhog,” to a Dustbowl classic like Woody Guthrie’s “Pastures of Plenty.” “Toronto audiences don’t respond to a clean, polished Nashville sound,” tune composer and mandolinist Adrian Gross explains. “They dig a lot of energy in their music, a rowdy bar vibe. They’re hard to win over.” But The Slocan Ramblers have won them over, moving from a young ensemble of bluegrass pickers to one of the best known Canadian roots bands. They’ve done this by staying true to the roots of the music, not seeking to revive anything but rather to tap the rough and rowdy heart of the music.

Coffee Creek was produced by the band’s friend and mentor Chris Coole (The Foggy Hogtown Boys), a well-known banjo player and community leader in Toronto’s bluegrass and old-time scenes. Like Coole, The Slocan Ramblers bring the live, collaboratory aspects of the music to the fore, and they understand that if you polish up the music too much, you lose the raw excitement that makes it so vibrant. In the liner notes, Coole breaks it down: “What really impressed me while we were working on this album, was that, while they can pull off the precision and virtuosity that is at the backbone of bluegrass, they understand the power of the fragile moment in music. The fragile moment used to be a big part of what made an album cool–Monroe singing just beyond the edge of his voice, the moment right before you realize Vassar isn’t lost–the moment on and beyond the edge.” Listen to Evans’ worn vocals and you’ll hear some of the edge that great singers like Keith Whitley brought to the music. Or try Gross’ powerfully discordant and innovative mandolin solo on “Groundhog,” or Darryl Poulsen’s counterpoint Lester-Flatt-runs towards the end of the title track, or the rumbling beats of Alastair Whitehead’s acoustic bass on “Call Me Long Gone” (or Whitehead’s beautiful, world-weary original songs like “Elk River” or “Angeline”) to get a feel for how The Slocan Ramblers are pushing the envelope.

This is roots music without pretension, music intended to make you feel something, music to get you moving in a crowded bar. The Slocan Ramblers recorded Coffee Creek the same way they perform on stage: standing up, leaning into the music, and pushing harder and harder for that edge just beyond.

The Slocans are:

Frank Evans: Banjo

Adrian Gross: Mandolin

Darryl Poulsen: Guitar

Alastair Whitehead: Bass

Press

Traditional Album of the Year Nominee”

– Canadian Folk Music Awards (2016)

“Emerging Artist Award”

– Edmonton Folk Fest (2015) 

“I love it – smokin’ bluegrass!”

BBC Radio

“The Slocan Ramblers put on one of the most vibrant shows of acoustic music I’ve seen in some time. It’s rare for Canadians (especially young Canadians) to play this music with such authority, passion and yet ability for experimentation. Chops galore, and a handsome bunch of fellas”

– Tom Power – Host of CBC’s “q”

“This Canadian quartet captures the breadth and depth of bluegrass that bands in the chilly North aspire to. […] If you’ve grown tired of the same old sounds, here’s a band who reinvents a genre that’s growing through many changes of late.”

  • – Bluegrass Unlimited

“Though the Slocan Ramblers might sound like they hail from the rolling hills of Tennessee, they actually come from the West End of Toronto.”

– The Bluegrass Situation

“For a bunch of boys from Toronto, the Slocan Ramblers are turning out a piping hot brand of bluegrass that you just may think was cut fresh from a back porch in the Blue Ridge.”

– Elmore Magazine

Featured Song Premier of “Call me Long Gone” from Coffee Creek

  • – The Bluegrass Situation

“If the Slocan Ramblers’ first album, Shaking Down the Acorns, was an impressive debut, this second offering (Coffee Creek) is pure gold. Recorded live off the floor, and co-produced by Chris Coole (The Foggy Hogtown Boys), Coffee Creek strikes that perfect modern bluegrass balance of a deep respect for tradition and an itch for exploration. With this album, the Slocan Ramblers are living up to their reputation as the Canadian bluegrass band to watch, and then some.”

– Exclaim! Magazine

“Toronto’s Slocan Ramblers live up to their name on their sophomore record (Coffee Creek). In fact, it’s hard to sit still while listening to their caffeinated, toe-tapping tunes. The record seems made for movement.”

– Now Magazine

“This [Shaking Down the Acorns] is an excellent album, all the more for being a debut disc, and well worth repeated listening.”

– The Huffington Post

“This is a tight-knit ensemble with a lot of drive, yet with something of a tantalizing “rough edge” to their sound.”

– Sing Out! Magazine

“Top Discoveries From Folk Alliance 2014”

– The Bluegrass Situation

“Best New Artist of 2013 Toronto Jazz Fest

– Torontoist

“Every few years a new generation of bluegrass players seems to be spawned from the hipster streets of Toronto. Enter the Slocan Ramblers, one of the hottest young bluegrass bands I’ve heard for ages. […] It’s hard to single any of them out, they all play so darned smooth and make it sound so easy.”

– Penguin Eggs Magazine 

“They sang “Abide with me,” it is the best. It gives you chills. I’ll tell you that.”

– Don Cherry – Host of CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada

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