Great Big Sea

Emerging from the St. John's pub scene nearly two decades ago and rooted in the rough-and-tumble, Celtic-laced folk music of its home province, Newfoundland's Great Big Sea specialize in forging a fervid cross between traditional and contemporary music. Employing mostly trad instrumentation running to mandolin, fiddle, pipes, and whistle, the band often uses a drum kit to kick the tunes into raucous overdrive, including the rousing pub anthems "Road to Ruin" and "Wandering Ways" on GBS's latest, Safe Upon the Shore. The title track, on the other hand, is an original tragic seafaring tale that easily matches Maritimes trad fare, especially showing off GBS's bracing a capella harmonies. All the new tracks are originals except for a sprightly cover of the Kinks' "Have A Cuppa Tea" and the folk standard "Gallows Pole," but even then GBS's rousing version is based on Led Zeppelin's. A number of the pieces are collaborations with other Canadian songwriters, notably Randy Bachman. The band also got fresh inspiration from recording several tracks in New Orleans with producer Steve Berlin and a smattering of locals, most prominently guitarist Sonny Landreth and the trombone onslaught of Bonerama. Renowned for their live energy, Great Big Sea should come on like a wave of the icy north Atlantic in the face. (Photo by Ivan Otis)
Sat., Oct. 23, 8 p.m., 2010

 
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