Band brings eastern influences west
Music: Newfoundland group to perform in Turner Valley
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 11:33 am
It is by popular demand an Newfoundland trio will be bringing their unique sound to Turner Valley this weekend.
The Beneath the Arch Concert Series invited traditional folk trio The Once to perform at the Flare ‘n’ Derrick Community Centre after several requests were made from audience members.
“I had some regular season ticket holders specifically ask for them,” said concert series selection committee chairperson Suzanne Searle. “There are people in our regular season ticket audience who go to a lot of folk festivals and a lot of people heard them. They are out there on the scene.”
Searle recalled seeing the trio perform in the Canadian Folk Music Festival circuit in 2011 and was captivated by their sound.
“The harmonies are amazing and they are really good players,” she said. “The fact that they are fairly new to the scene and got the big folk festivals just right out of the gate is always a good sign. Obviously they are that good that the big folk festivals would hire them right away.”
Searle knew the multi-genre roots folk group with a light Celtic flavour would fit perfectly with what Beneath the Arch looks for in its performers.
“It certainly will appeal to the folkies in our audience,” she said. “We look for not only various genres but we also have brought people from all over the world.”
The Newfoundland trio of Geraldine Hollet, Phil Churchill and Andrew Dale return from touring Ireland and the United Kingdom on Feb. 4. Two days later they head west to begin their western Canada tour.
“We don’t stop,” joked Hollet. “Right now I’m walking down the street in Ireland. We’ve been all over the world in places we didn’t even know existed.”
With five Music Newfoundland and Labrador Awards, three Canadian Folk Music Awards, an East Coast Music Award for Group Recording of the Year in 2011 and a Juno nomination for Roots/Traditional Album of the Year 2012, the Newfoundland folk band hasn’t gone unnoticed in music circles. They have also been nominated for three 2013 East Coast Music Awards.
“It seems like the whole world wants to hear our stories,” said Hollet. “It’s surprising how after a show you talk to people and your stories are like theirs and they can relate.”
Storytelling is The Once’s specialty.
Hollet said each member contributes to writing and singing the band’s lyrics and are skilled on various instruments including guitar, mandolin, fiddle and bouzouki.
One of Hollet’s favourite songs is about her father who almost drowned when his wife was pregnant with Hollet. She said upon being resuscitated her father claims he saw Hollet’s face as an adult and that’s what brought him back.
“Up until recently I was like, I can’t tell people that story,” she said. “They’ll think I’m nuts.”
Hollet said she now feels confident to write whatever she feels.
“I just feel like when we do a show it’s like inviting someone into your living room and letting them share in your life a little bit.”
Having grown up in different parts of Newfoundland, Hollet, Churchill and Dale each bring their own unique influences to the table.
“We have so many influences,” said Hollet. “Growing up there was country music, rock and roll, back as far as the Beatles, and my parents were listening to Johnny Cash.”
Among the most influential was traditional Irish group The Voice Squad, said Hollet.
“The whole reason we even started was because we heard them sing these three part a cappella arrangements,” she said. “All of our writing evolves around three voices, but are influenced by several thousands of different styles.”
The Once’s sound is not considered typical because of the varying background and influences.
“It’s maybe not quite the Celtic feel people would expect,” she said. “It’s more upbeat and more about the stories. People tap along and have fun.”
The trio is also influenced by places they have visited on their tours – Ireland being the most recent.
“Every time we get here the more we feel we’re at home and a part of this place and the more we can write when we are here,” she said of Ireland. “A couple of times Phil had to pull over to write lyrics. It’s a very inspiring kind of place.”
It was poetry that influenced The Once’s last album “Row Upon Row of the People They Know,” released in the fall of 2011.
The title for this second full-length album comes from the poem “Song for Memory” by George Murray. The poem speaks of the power of words and music to freeze time and emotions, to make small moments large and large moments small.
Ticket to see The Once are available at Okotoks Natural Foods, Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond, Coyote Moon Cantina & Espresso Bar in Turner Valley, Millarville General Store or at the door for $25 and $10 for children ages six to 12.
The Once performs at the Flare ‘n’ Derrick Community Centre on Feb. 9 at 7:30 p.m.