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Interview: JUNO Award-Nominees Durham County Poets
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Music got me into music. I jokingly say. “I got nowhere else to go» but it is true in my case. Ever since I could remember I’ve carried a song in my heart. Sometimes I vocalized it, sometimes I mumbled, sometimes I kept my mouth shut and tapped my feet. But it’s just always there. There’s only one other thing that I would’ve loved to do. That is to be a carpenter/cabinet maker/instrument maker. But alas, here I am!
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I like to enjoy the outdoors as best as I can. Rolling up and down the road. Meeting with people chatting and getting to know them. Praying, reading a bit but not too much. When you can get back to, for lack of better words, “balance“, peacefulness and contentment, you can find a lot of inspiration.
How long has your band been around?
We first formed as a band shortly after Confederation when Canada became a country! Or at least that’s what some people think… Lol. We started meeting in 2011 - right away we started writing and collaborating with a goal of becoming recording artists that tour.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We are mostly based out of Southwest Quebec. Otherwise known as the Chateauguay Valley. We’re all very proud of that fact, and we do try to mention it often. Rob our drummer resides in Montreal along with the horn players that are on these last two records. I would say that our surroundings strongly influenced our writing style and sound. This is rural country you see, with regular people from many diverse places and languages doing everyday things in subtle, extraordinary ways. So, I hope that our developing sound continues to include these wonderful people and can at the same time embrace new listeners from all around this globe.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
The father of my wife Darlene was born in 1900 if you can believe that. So, it’s fair to say that he was Page 3old-school! And he used to round up the kids in his ‘39 Dodge in the early 1970s and drive them into Ormstown, Quebec, that had previously been called Durham - before the turn of the century - mind you. And he would declare as he was put-putting down the road at 30 miles an hour. “Come on kids we’re going into Durham”. It was such a funky story we just had to find a way to use it! And being that it’s small-town Quebec, a farming community, butut at the same time is its own mistake, cuz Durham could be found all over Quebec, Ontario the US and in the United Kingdom. The part about POETS in the title, is simply meant to reflect that we are all songwriters equal in this pursuit.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
The last one. As I have a short-term memory problem… It’s not easy to answer. We can certainly throw out you know some of the best venues and festivals and we will be correct. But honestly from the Musician standpoint, it’s the show where everything was moving along like clockwork. Just beautifully. That’s when I think musicians can be the most pleased.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
In the US. The Rochester Jazz Festival. The Little Theatre in Rochester New York. And we always love getting back to Norwood Massachusetts to perform for our good friends at the Fallout Shelter. It’s home away from home for us. Check it out! In Canada, we just finished playing at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. And that was a wonderful experience. But honestly it was wonderful theatres scattered all across these places that tell a story. Of course, we would love to play more prestigious festivals. Especially here in Montreal, Club Soda. We did that once for the Bob Dylan birthday bash. We would love to perform at the Montreal Jazz Festival. That next year? In Toronto doing a double bill at Massey Hall with any number of the incredible Canadian, US, European artists out there. There’s my, I have a dream, snippet.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I guess they have to be alive. Here we go. Tedeschi and Tucks, Downchild Blues Band, Edgar Winter, Dawn Tyler Watson, Taj Mahal, Neil Young, Mark Knopfler, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones. Last but not least. The next young up-and-coming thing that has tens of thousands of young music lovers that are trying to dig deep into the Music catalogues of the old guys!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Find “your sound“ as soon as you can. Stop trying to fit in… It never works… Surround yourself with dedicated hard-working talented musicians that are not a bunch of @;*&#+%! Don’t be afraid to borrow or steal other peoples’ riffs or sound. Every musician has been doing it since we started banging steaks and knocking on rocks.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Don’t go down the hill in an innertube. And love everybody all the time!
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I’m not sure. I like my first folk song. Field Of Briars. My first rockish song, Wayside. My favourite Blues song... Hand Me Down Blues. Because we all worked together on them. And for now, Out of the Woods. I finally got the courage and stamina to write a song that has a reference to my mother.
Which songs are your favorite to play, and which get requested the most?
Any of the new songs are our favorites to play. Because we’re presenting it to the world. The most requested song? Probably.… Moon Won’t Go Down
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
For some of us it comes easier. David is quite prolific. He finds inspiration in anything and everything. A little snippet or a saying. A badly told joke, A conversation in the crowd. It’s a good lesson for myself as well. Mostly I find inspiration in my surroundings. Or when I am most deeply touched by some kind of life event.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Hey we’re here. That’s pretty good! There’s always hope! What are you whining about? Do something and don’t forget about Love, Love, Love, Love, family, friends, Love, work, play, oh yeah and last but not least: Whatever you’re doing. Make sure there’s Love!
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
All the time. But the good thing is sooner or later they realize I’m correct…lol. Never about anything that cannot be solved with compromise and respect. and we are blessed. The circle just seems to get bigger not smaller.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Our plan for the future is to continue touring this album. To continue to surround ourselves with people that challenged us to be better musicians and human beings. Check out where we are playing, and if you can’t come and see us, go see somebody that you love to see.
Thank you for supporting musicians and artists like us. Keep doing what you’re doing. Peace