Like the haunting song of the Lorelei, The Sweet Lowdown’s new album Chasing the Sun draws the listener in and carries them away down a winding river through the rain and into the dancing sun.
The theme of the album developed naturally with the songs expressing the group’s shared experiences over the last few years. “The ferry rides, the people we’ve met, the musicians we’ve met – and just being together all the time,” says band member Shanti Bremer.
Banjo player Bremer and guitarist Amanda Blied met through the Victoria Bluegrass Association six years ago and began playing together.
“We weren’t new to music, but new to playing music together. We knew Miriam (Sonstenes, now the band’s fiddle player) but didn’t ask her to join us. … At the time we weren’t even thinking of starting a band,” says Bremer.
The pair began busking in Victoria just to get the feel of performing.
“We got some early gigs (out of busking). We were surprised, we weren’t expecting it.”
Their musical career has been a steady climb since, eventually turning into a full time gig. As a duo, Bremer and Blied released an EP in 2008 with Fish and Bird’s Adam Iredale-Gray. The trio’s self-titled album came out in 2011, May, produced by The Bills’ Adrian Dolan, was released just a year later.
“Having an album allowed us to get real gigs and apply for festivals – it gave us a leg to stand on,” says Bremer.
With the addition of Sonstenes, the Victoria-based group began touring regularly, and in 2013 won the Vancouver Island Music Award for Island Roots Album of the Year.
Their latest CD Chasing the Sun was recorded on Mayne Island over 10 days last March.
“People ask who we sound like and I say we just sound like us,” says Bremer. They play traditional bluegrass mixed with sweet harmonies and old time fiddle and banjo. “(Bluegrass) has a deep past that we acknowledge and love but we write all our own music now – it gets weirder as the days go by,” she laughs.
The all-ages CD release party for Chasing the Sun is on Dec. 9, 7pm at the Victoria Events Centre, 1415 Broad. “We’ll showcase all our new material and play a few of our old favourites.”
Tickets are available at Larsen Music, Lyle’s Place and Long & McQuade, $15/$12 in advance, $20/$15 at the door, kids under 12 free.