Slocan Ramblers to stage homecoming tour after a (career) high and lonesome year on the road

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Feb. 23 – Connections Coffee House, Sangudo, AB
Feb. 24 – St. Basil’s Cultural Centre (New Moon Folk Club), Edmonton, AB
Feb. 25 – Crescent Heights Community Hall (Nickelodeon Folk Club), Calgary, AB
Feb. 26 – Key City Theatre, Cranbrook, BC
Feb. 28 – The Langham, Kaslo, BC
Mar. 2 – Spiritbar at the Hume Hotel, Nelson, BC
Mar. 3 – The Arts Station, Fernie, BC
Mar. 4 – KathFest, Canmore, AB
Mar. 7 – Blackfoot Balehouse, Blackfoot, AB
Mar. 8 – Ghostown Blues, Maple Creek, SK
Mar. 9 – Creative City Centre, Regina, SK
Mar. 10 – The Bassment, Saskatoon, SK
Mar. 11 – The Happy Nun, Forget, SK
March 25 – Old Town Hall, Newmarket
April 7 – Registry Theatre, Kitchener
May 11 – Full Circle Theatre, Perth
May 12 – Aurora Cultural Centre, Aurora
May 20 – Regent Theatre, Picton
Atlantic dates in May:
May 4 – Harbourfront Theatre, Summerside, PEI
May 5 – deCoste Centre, Pictou NS
May 6 – Mermaid Imperial Performing Arts Centre, Windsor, NS
May 7 – L’Association Le Moulin de la Baie, Saulnerville, NS

After spending more than three months on tour in the U.S. last year, playing sold-out shows in Colorado, earning standing ovations from crowds of 300 or more in places like Los Angeles, and performing and teaching at some of America’s biggest bluegrass festivals, Toronto’s Slocan Ramblers were feeling both high and lonesome like never before.

So the award-winning young bluegrass outfit, which has been lauded everywhere from Exclaim, to HuffPo to Hockey Night in Canada, has decided to open 2017 with a series of concerts close to home.

Audiences will note the theme of homesickness in several new original numbers, including Adrian Gross’ “Who’ll be There for You but Me?” and Frank Evans’ appropriately-titled “Mighty Hard Road.’ The band has also been reimagining songs from the vaults of old Appalachia, where much pain and suffering was translated into song.

Plus, there will be plenty of favourites from the band’s much-lauded 2015 album, Coffee Creek, which earned a Canadian Folk Music Award nomination this past fall and a 9/10 rating from Exclaim.

Named the Best New Artist at the 2013 Toronto Jazz Festival by Torontoist and listed by Bluegrass Situation as one of the Top New Discoveries of the 2014 Folk Alliance Conference, the Slocans have gone on to open for Steve Martin’s bluegrass band and taken part in a Vision TV gospel special called “God’s Greatest Hits.” Their performance of “Abide with Me” on that show caught the attention of Don Cherry, who, in turn, talked up the band to Ron MacLean during Coaches Corner on Hockey Night in Canada. Penguin Eggs magazine, Canada’s authority on folk music, describes the group as “one of the hottest young bluegrass bands I’ve heard for ages.”

All one-time students of the Humber College music program, the Slocan Ramblers – who are named for a historic mine in B.C.’s Slocan Valley, where bassist Alastair Whitehead spent his summers – count among their influences lesser-known bluegrass great Dave Evans and celebrated player Norman Blake.

They have built a reputation on their fresh, innovative approaches to the genre: fiddle-free arrangements of guitar, banjo, mandolin and bass; nods to Woodie Guthrie and Roy Acuff; subtle shades of the Trans Atlantic sound (Southern folk meets Celtic); and divine originals that draw on some decidedly non-traditional inspiration – such as a visit to the Sea of Galilee.

At the end of the day though, what truly sets the Slocan Ramblers apart is the shit-hot playing of its four instrumental wizards: Gross on mandolin, Darryl Poulsen on guitar, Whitehead on bass and Evans on three-finger and clawhammer banjo.

Their crowd-pleasing live shows this winter and spring are not to be missed.

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