Aug. 22, 2012 - Issue #879: Is The Party Over?
The Log Drivers
Thu, Aug 30 (7:30 pm)
With Billie Zizi
The Artery, $10 advance, $12 at the door
Traditional Celtic music gets a contemporary boost from three friends who met while studying for degrees in jazz music.
The virtuosos met at Humber College in Toronto and immediately recognized a sense of musical kinship. From there, Julie Fitzgerald, who has gone on to become a two-time Canadian Grand Master Fiddle Champion; Spencer Murray, the first Canadian in five years to quality for the All Ireland Championships in flute; and guitar master Nate Douglas began having jam sessions at each other's houses and soon made the switch to Celtic music. However, the trio has added its own flavour to the traditional genre, infusing elements of rock and jazz into their original melodies.
The Log Drivers didn't want its self-titled debut to simply mimic the sounds of those who have come before them in traditional Celtic music. The original compositions display maturity and musicianship the belies the group's young age, and when the trio does try its hand at traditional tunes, it's always with its own voice, rather than mimicking what's been done.
"There's a lot of really strict traditionalists in the genre that would—and have—said about some of the stuff that we've done that it's diluting the music or killing the tradition," Murray says of the band's style.
Celtic music has had a place in Canadiana for decades, and Murray attributes its longevity to a process of natural selection. The Log Drivers have been known to play tunes that are 200 to 300 years old, but Murray says that song selection has more to do with the fact that these are great songs.
"Someone wrote a great tune and the next generation of players picked the tunes they like, got rid of the tunes they didn't and wrote some of their own. There's always a process of renewal in the music that keeps it healthy and alive and that's really important," he adds.
This process is what has brought The Log Drivers to its debut, which is a collection of mostly instrumental tracks, aside from three with vocals, that was encouraged throughout its production by renowned Irish flute player Lorette O'Reid, who now lives in Toronto. The Log Drivers also rely on go-to musician fill-ins Lizzy Hoyt on fiddle and Juno Award-nominee Jeremiah McDade on guitar.
The pair will be filling in for Fitzgerald and Douglas at the release show in Edmonton, who are tied up with prior commitments. Fitzgerald often tours with her family's band and as part of Stepcrew, an Irish step dancing troupe. Murray says he's been playing with Hoyt and McDade for some time and looks up to them both as musicians, so despite being sans two band members, The Log Drivers will be alive and kicking in Edmonton.
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