Sloop John B
Special to The Record
There are a few bands who spend most of their time relentlessly travelling across the wide expanse of Canada, gradually getting better and better at what they do. Years later, these same bands appear to most people to suddenly come out of nowhere as a fully developed band, scoring what is thought of as overnight success.
Winnipeg’s Crooked Brothers are just such a musical treasure. These guys have been at it for quite a few years now and have truly developed their own sound by fusing together the best elements of the music made before them by groups like The Band and Wilco melded with sounds that relate to Tom Waits, and Howlin Wolf pushing against a folkier, sound that relates more to the likes of Willie P Bennett or Bruce Cockburn. The Crooked Brothers take all the sounds you might hear at one of the daytime sessions on the Grierson Stage at MusicFest and spit it all out as one band. They have been influenced by the best in roots music and it shows that they have done their homework.
Just try and pin it down. Matt’s unforgettably strange voice, inhuman and gravelly deep. Darwin’s deft handling of the Dobro and harmonica. Jesse’s stories and poems turned lyrics.
Practically a Crooked Family Variety Act – their concerts see banjos, mandolins, guitars and more taking turns being juggled from brother to brother. Each having their own style and touch, the arrangements seem limitless, and there’s a refreshing sense that they will never write the same song twice. The Crooked Brothers are clearly one of the bands who will define the future of Canadian roots music for all lucky listeners.
They will be performing in the concert room David Lindley once described as sounding like ‘playing inside of a big beautiful acoustic guitar’, Courtenay’s own Native Sons Hall on Feb. 27.
Tickets at www.islandmusicfest.com