Vancouver Island MusicFest’s Ongoing Concerts Series presents The Duhks at the Cumberland Hotel, Tuesday, Feb. 10 at 8 p.m.
It’s hard to describe The Duhks’ music without the adjective eclectic. How else would you describe a band that draws on traditions as distant as French Canadian and Brazilian, Appalachian and Scandinavian? One way to consider the Winnipeg band is to say that they sound like a Canadian folk festival: the fiddle tune jam, the gospel workshop, the songwriters-in-the-round, the Saturday night dance party – all of it. And it makes sense when you consider that founding member and clawhammer banjo player Leonard Podolak’s father was the co-founder of several influential folk festivals including Vancouver and Winnipeg. The Duhks’ approach to folk music is as broad and generous as a modern festival lineup; unified by first rate musicianship and a deep respect for traditions while also keeping them alive and kicking well into the 21st century.
The Duhks formed in 2001 and in the next five years, released three studio albums, picking up a Juno nomination, a Juno win and a Grammy nomination for their troubles.
In 2007 founding member and lead vocalist Jessee Havey as well as percussionist Scott Senior left the band and were replaced by siblings Sarah and Christian Dugas. With the new lineup they released two live recordings and a studio album (earning another Juno nomination) before 2010 when founding fiddler Tania Elizabeth left the band. The Duhks went on a partial-hiatus and it seemed likely that the band was finished, when Podolak phoned up Havey to see if she wanted to give it another shot. Havey’s response was an immediate yes.
If the rest is history, then the history is unfolding in real time as the reborn Duhks hit the road in January and February for the sadistically-titled Polar Vortex Tour.
The two original Winnipeg members Havey and Podolak are now joined by Quebec guitarist Colin Savoie-Levac (whose other project, Les Poules a Colin, has been making waves in the Quebec trad scene), and two New York-based musicians, fiddler Rosie Newton and drummer-percussionist Kevin Garcia. They’ll be playing material predominantly from their 2014 album Beyond the Blue that includes guest appearances by founding members Jordan McConnell and Tania Elizabeth (because you can never really quit being a Duhk.) There will be protest songs, strains of klezmer and country, grooves from Mali to Denmark. It will be all over the map, and all really good. Just like The Duhks have always been.
Tickets are $20 (plus fees and taxes) and show time is 8 p.m. For tickets and more information go to www.islandmusicfest.ca.