Special the Record
The Paperboys’ sound is a great example of its sum being greater than its parts.
The Juno Award-winning band’s website refers to the “multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-generational, multi-lingual” nature of the band members.
The band’s scope has widened, said founder, frontman and primary songwriter Tom Landa in an interview preceding their Feb. 12 performance at the Sid Williams Theatre.
“I very much started this band because I loved folk and Celtic music … I’d also grown up on rock music … but it was singer/songwriter-based,” he recalled.
“And then, little by little, we started getting more diverse in our influences.”
Banjo playing introduced a touch of bluegrass and eastern European influences seeped in for the band’s second album.
“And then our musical curiosity grew … but it also became who the members ended up being.”
Landa, born in Mexico to a Mexican father and Canadian mother of Irish descent, contributes a south-of-the border style called son jarocho.
From the Veracruz area on the east coast of Mexico, son jarocho is “kind of like bluegrass and old-time music. The singers learn to sing in that amazing kind of tone, to cut above all the instruments … much in the way bluegrass does.”
Longtime Spirit of the West member Geoffrey Kelly is from Scotland and strengthens the Paperboys’ existing fondness for Celtic music with his flute playing. In fact, he introduced Landa to the Celtic sound.
Other influences the band has been known to employ include country, ska, soca, African highlife and white-boy reggae.
Fiddler Kendall Carson was replaced by Landa’s wife Kalissa Hernandez. Brad Gillard plays banjo and bass, and Sam Esecson is the drummer.
Landa said the band is constantly influenced by his musical curiosity.
“I just don’t think I would be happy making the same record over and over.”
Landa surprised fans and perhaps some band members when he added a horn section “like Van Morrison and Tower of Power.”
Trying new sounds and merging varying influences effectively is not easy, Landa admitted.
“It is a challenge, and I push myself to that challenge. So do members of the band.”
Don’t think the Paperboys play difficult, challenging music. They have a reputation for excellent live performances and being extremely danceable. Although they are primarily acoustic, they really rock at times.
They tour relentlessly, including performances Jan. 22 on Denman Island and the next day on Hornby.
They have produced 10 recordings in 11 years. Beginning with January in 1993, the Paperboys released their most recent, At Peace With One’s Ghosts, in 2014.
Their first three studio albums were nominated for Juno Awards. Molinos from 1997 won in the Roots and Traditional Album of the Year category, they earned a West Coast Music Award in the same year. Postcards got them a West Coast Music Award in 2000 and another Juno nomination.
Their 2006 release The Road to Ellenside was recorded in England’s Lakes District with engineer Mark Tucker, who worked previously with Jethro Tull and seminal Celtic rock band Fairport Convention.
Landa has fond memories of recording with renowned Victoria producer Joby Baker.
“Working with Joby has been an absolute delight. I’ve done quite a few records with him.
“He’s an absolute joy; he’s a gem of a producer.”
That’s the kind of rave review the Paperboys typically get from critics. Here’s one example:
“This acclaimed Canadian-based band serves up a heady blend of country-folk-Celtic-bluegrass-rock with a bit of traditional Mexican music thrown in for good measure. It defies labelling but, hey, who cares, it is just brilliant music!” Patrick Donaghy, Rock n Reel Magazine.
The Paperboys perform Feb. 12 at the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay as part of the Sid’s Blue Circle Series. For details and tickets, visit www.sidwilliamstheatere.com, phone 250-338-2430 or visit the Sid box office at 442 Cliffe Ave.