Main Act: The Unseen Strangers
Opening Act: David Lum
Desboro Music Hall 2020 Concert Series
Doors Open: 6:30pm, Music Starts: 7:30pm
THE UNSEEN STRANGERS
The Unseen Strangers have ambitiously cultivated a musical identity shaped by good old-fashioned bluegrass, the limitless barrage of contemporary musical influences, and a curious sense of humor.
Newgrass ambassadors, The Unseen Strangers favor innovation over convention. For their newest album, Stranger Places (April 1st, 2016), the band challenged the limits of what they are capable of, exploring the gamut of what can be done with strings. The result is a collection of fun, stunning songs featuring inimitable instrumental performances.
The seven-part instrumental kick off “Ice Jam” launches the listener on an expansive journey through nine original songs, including the three-piece horn section funkiness of “Old City Jail” and the psychedelic newgrass epic “Square Trance”. The Strangers also pay homage to their bluegrass roots on “Wicked Lover” and the freight train inspired barnburner “New Railroad Blues”.
For Stranger Places, the band simplified their approach to the studio with quick, concise live off the floor sessions. The band teamed up with Toronto, ON based engineer and producer Andrew Collins (Creaking Tree String Quartet; Foggy Hogtown Boys), recording the album over several months in 2015.
The band was started in 2008 by Adam Shier, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and driving force behind The Unseen Strangers. Adam fell in love with the sound of Bluegrass while attending college in Halifax and was soon recruiting his best friends to be in a Bluegrass band. The band quickly recorded an album and were excited to win a Music Nova Scotia Award in 2009 for Bluegrass/Country Album of the Year. The group has grown immensely from these small beginnings but a similar goal remains, to play new energetic bluegrass music with respect to the incredible lineage of its tradition.
The Strangers approach to bluegrass is open-ended yet inclusive; they’ve been on the roster for several forward thinking festivals, including Delfest (hosted by bluegrass legend Del Mccoury), where they won the band competition in 2013. The Unseen Strangers continue to add to their diverse festival resume while consistently developing their sound both onstage and in the studio.
“They have music that engages all the senses and leaves listeners longing for more.”
~ Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine
“Stellar mandolin, guitar and banjo shredding that sounds straight out of Tennessee”
~ Exclaim! – ON, CANADA
“These guys are good”
~ CBC Radio –
“The Unseen Strangers aren’t pretending to be cowboys. They’ll interrupt themselves for an instrumental breakdown of I Like To Move It…”
~ The Globe and Mail – ON, CANADA
“Unseen Strangers pushes the limits of stringed jam-band wildness to new heights. ”
~ The Aquarian – NJ, USA
“The expressiveness heard in their lovely ensemble brings a natural quality to their sound, forming a honest and genuine relationship with the listener.”
~ KAOS Radio – WA, USA
“At their most creative, the music is nearly irresistible, leaving you wondering what’s next and always coming through with a new turn to relish.”
~ Grayowl Point
~ Pete Wernick – “Dr. Banjo”, Hot Rize
“Bluegrass Band Competition Winners 2013”
~ Delfest – MD, USA
“Country/Bluegrass Song of the Year 2012”
~ International Acoustic Music Awards
Born and raised in Vancouver, David made his way across Canada, spent a decade in Winnipeg before settling in Hamilton. Infusing a blend of contemporary folk and roots, his influences include renowned Canadian singer/songwriters such as Bruce Cockburn and James Keelaghan, as well as American blues artist Keb ‘Mo and folk-rock duo The Indigo Girls.
His songs are as varied as the landscapes he has travelled through, and his versatile guitar style traverses folk, blues, pop and everything else in between. His intimate voice will draw you into his world, filled with tales of quiet desperation, longing and triumph of the human spirit.
Songwriters in the Round
Featuring Karen Morand, Gina Horswood and Gillian Nicola
This will be a slightly different format than our other concerts. All three musicians will be on the stage together. Each performer will tell a story and play their song before rotating to the next performer. We’ll have an hour of songs with a half hour break before another set of music. Come enjoy a fantastic evening of stories and songs.
Desboro Music Hall 2020 Concert Series
Doors Open: 6:30pm, Music Starts: 7:30pm
Karen Morand has roots that run deep. Born in Toronto and based in Southern Ontario, the award-winning singer-songwriter does life off the beaten path, sleeves rolled up with an eye on the eternal. Armed with feisty, powerhouse vocals, she delivers a soul-stirring show: lively, alt- folk with well-worn blues and gritty gospel on the side.
Karen radiates with energy in live performances both solo and accompanied by her acoustic trio, BOSCO (Aaron Verhulst and Benny Santoro). A graduate from the University of Windsor’s music therapy program, Karen enjoys making meaningful connections with her audience and inspiring hope. She is also a music educator, workshop instructor and music director.
Since her first studio release, ‘Carry On’ in 2012, followed by ‘I Think I’ll Lose My Mind Today’ in 2014, and Junkyard Heart in 2016, Karen has maintained an intense performance schedule throughout Ontario and most recently, touring Eastern Canada. Her first solo and most recent release, “Every Flash of Light” (2018) is an EP produced by Danny Gauthier including co-writes with Nashville songwriters Steve Hindalong (the Choir), Kelly Kessler and Linda McRae (Spirit of the West). Other collaborations include her recent pairing with internationally renowned bluesman, Manitoba Hal Brolund as bluesy gospel Americana duo, “Even the Bird Was Free.”
What some folks are saying:
“I met Karen Morand at the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals in 2010 where I was a mentor. She was just beginning her career as a singer/songwriter and I was immediately impressed by her warmth and straightforward attitude. She has made great strides since then and has just released her second recording of her own material. Her songwriting belies the amount of time she’s actually been writing and I believe she is on her way to becoming an artist who will be a force on the Canadian music scene” Linda McRae, platinum award winning musician
“Karen Morand is something of a standout in the crowded field of solo singer-songwriters. Her performances and recordings both display a careful attention to craft as well as a broad range of influences. Karen’s material demonstrates her comfort with a variety of styles and genres and her ability to create appealing melodies and lyrics.” Danny Sullivan, Artistic Director, Blue Skies Music Festival
“Songwriter Karen Morand casts power to stir the storm in your soul and part the dark clouds hovering over your heart. Karen drives the engine through songs that clang, grind and chug with bold defiance, shaken faith and cryptic warnings; breathing steam around embraces of the wounded and outcast.” Songstress and CJAM radio host Allison Brown
“Horswood has been on a long journey for one so young, having topped the country music charts in her native Australia with her sister as the duo ‘Horswood’ and then embarking on a nomadic round the world trip, landing in Europe just as her first solo release hit the charts at home, a short stay in Nashville followed with a resulting EP release ‘The Nashville Sessions’ the journey then culminating in a move to Canada which she now calls home.
[Gina’s latest release] Porcelain is the triumphant result of the experiences of world travels, mixing the country / roots ‘bed’ she was noted for lying in and adding a hint of gospel and blues stylisations that she’s been drawn towards since moving to North America.”
- Stevie Connor (Blues & Roots Radio, Fatea Magazine UK)
Hamilton’s Gillian Nicola took an unusual route to becoming a folk/Americana singer-songwriter: trained in classical voice, Nicola spent her teens gigging in a classic rock cover band, singing Janis Joplin and Led Zeppelin before launching herself into alt-country when she began writing songs. Nicola’s music centres around her chameleonic vocals – at one moment with a hint of tobacco in her voice, the next outright rocking – strummed and finger picked guitar, and versatile, melodic songwriting. Nicola’s songs are often built around open and alternate guitar tunings that allow her to throw her music theory upbringing out the window. Nicola released her debut full-length album, Dried Flowers, on May 3, 2019. Produced by John Dinsmore, the album reached number 3 on the earshot! Folk/Roots/Blues Charts and has received CBC airplay nationwide.
Dried Flowers is “an alt-country-folk-rock masterclass in the affairs of the heart” – Hamilton Magazine.