The Strumbellas: Canadian Folk Band on the Move
“Home sweet home! Home sweet home! She means everything to me and I will keep her dry and warm,” Strumbellas front-man, Simon Ward laments "Home Sweet Home" from the band’s award winning album, Still Moving on Dance Floors. The Strumbellas shook the stage of the Phoenix Concert Hall in Toronto on November 28th 2014 on their last Canada wide tour, stomping and singing in unison for their loving crowd. The show in Toronto was special for the band considering that four out of six band members hail from Lindsay Ontario, just north of the big city.
The Strumbellas at The Phoenix Concert Hall Photo by Kaeleigh Phillips
The Strumbellas were warmly welcomed home with the crowd singing along to all off the lyrics yet Ward confessed post-show that he was anxious to play that evening,
“I was nervous about the show. My sister, family, wife and in-laws were here. It makes me more nervous if people I know are here. I’m always very critical of myself and my performance. I felt like the crowd was very nice to us and I am grateful.”
Simon Ward was incredibly humble and attributed his successes to his band members and the support of his family rather than himself. Ward displayed a quiet demeanor off-stage that contrasted with his hearty on-stage performance.
Simon Ward and his Wife Photo by Kaeleigh Phillips
In many ways, Simon Ward is reminiscent of the great Canadian folk archetype. From his calm and humble demeanor to his shaggy beard and plaid button-up, this man makes you believe in the tragic natural feel of the lyrics. His immediate sincerity dismisses any disbelief in the beauty of the musical vivacity that is The Strumbellas.
The Strumbellas have had considerable success in the past year, winning a Juno award for best 2014 Folk and Traditional album of 2014 and the SirusXM Indies award for Folk Group of the Year. Still Moving on Dance Floors was released in 2013 by Six Shooter Records and has a distinctly grassroots folk sound that attracts true blooded Canadians to join together in song and stomp. When asked about the group’s recent success and the crowd’s apparent familiarity with the lyrics of their newest album, Ward responded,
“Everybody sings along. All across Canada, every single one. It was incredible. Does the Juno help? I’m sure it helps. I’m not sure how to measure it. Going out touring constantly helps.”
The Strumbellas just completed a hefty North American tour with 39 stops in both Canada and the U.S.A. They are a band that is constantly on the road, which is very fitting with many of the lyrics on their Juno award winning album. This is exemplified by the song, “Run”, when Ward accompanied by the other members of The Strumbellas chant, “Oh they say, it’s a magical place they found, I said run, run, run, run. And I’m gone eh, come sing along with me.”
The songs on the album, We Still Move on Dance floors pull back and forth between two themes; the struggles of road life and the pull of home. Ward emphasized the importance of feeling settled as compared to reaching success with The Strumbellas, and knowing the power of who you are in your heart,
“Everyone who has joined in has had the hope of success vs. being established. We are small town guys, nice people. The relationship we built is defined by the fact that we are not artists or divas, we are small town hard-working people. We are not going to ask for different colored m&ms.”
The Strumbellas are representative of what is truly good in folk music, namely sincerity, hard-work, and honest lyrics. This Canadian band demonstrates the ability to sing about the tragedies in life and then change gears just as quickly to celebrate the love hidden between the notes of the violin and guitar. The future is bright for the Strumbellas as their true blue Canadian tunes travel over mountains and lakes, singing “cuz it’s love at the end of an era. We can wait, it’s what they wanted.”
To check out more by the Strumbellas, visit their website and bandcamp for their latest album: http://www.thestrumbellas.ca/