Show Alert: An interview with Simon Ward from The Strumbellas

Sun., Feb. 2 ~ PJ's Lager House, Detroit

Photo credit: Heather Pollock
Strumbellas’ singer-songwriter Simon Ward had no idea their Detroit date at PJ’s Lager House was on Super Bowl Sunday. And we could give no idea what kind of audience there’d be for their show. “That’s okay,” said Ward. “We’re used to playing in bars with hockey on the TV. We’ll hear cheers and think they’re for us, until we realize it’s because someone scored a goal.”

Since forming in 2009, more and more of those cheers have been for The Strumbellas: Ward (guitar, vocals), David Ritter (keyboard, vocals, percussion), Izzy Ritchie (violin, viola, vocals), Darryl James (bass), Jon Hembrey (electric guitar) and drummer Jeremy Drury. A meld of small town (Lindsay, Ont.) and big city (Toronto), their frequently anthemic, chorale-laden alt folk/new country keeps getting noticed.

“…The Strumbellas’ collection of polished and, at its best, inspired tracks is poised for much attention.”

“As one of Canada’s finest country roots bands, Ontario’s Strumbellas do not disappoint with their sophomore record, We Still Move On Dance Floors… the future looks incredibly bright for The Strumbellas.”

“In fact, it's not much of a stretch to suggest that they may be the best band in Canada at the moment.”

Their first full-length album, the independently released My Father and The Hunter, earned them a 2013 Juno nomination for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year. Although they didn’t win, “We had a blast,” Ward recalled. “We flew out (for the awards), went to a lot of parties and met a lot of people.”

In November, the track “Sailing” from We Still Move On Dance Floors (October 2013, Six Shooter Records), was prominently featured on Hockey Night in Canada’s Remembrance Day show. “We knew we were going to be on, but thought it would just be a background song,” Ward explained. “We were in Calgary in a bar and honest, the band members got choked up. It was emotional.”

We Still Move On Dance Floors is emotional too, a dichotomy between beginnings and endings, stillness and movement, home and travel. “That album was written when we were doing a lot of touring,” Ward explained. “We hadn’t done a lot before. We were amazed the first time we saw mountains, which is why we wanted to get one on the album.”

The album title, however, is more mysterious. “It’s a line from a song we really liked that was cut from the album,” said Ward. “On our first album, we told everything about ourselves. So on this one we’re keeping a secret. It’s not about dancing or dance floors.”

With the wind in their sails, The Strumbellas set a course for more touring that began Jan. 21 in Massachusetts. “We want to start breaking into the States, so we began with the Northeast,” said Ward, including their first ever stop in Detroit. “Growing up in Canada, Detroit was a big city for us. It’s awesome that we’re stopping in the Motor City. We’re a little nervous, but excited as well. We’re still new, babies in the industry. A big thanks to anyone who listens.”