Victoria’s bluegrass sweethearts, The Sweet Lowdown, will be on a high note when they release the trio’s first full-length studio album at their CD release party at the Victoria Events Centre, Thursday.
Fresh off their Monday Magazine M Awards win, voted Favourite Roots/World Music Group by our readers, The Sweet Lowdown is ready to mark another accomplishment with the release of the trio’s self-titled album.
Featuring Amanda Blied on guitar, Shanti Bremer on banjo, Miriam Sonstenes on the fiddle and all three on vocals, this album is perfect for a day out on the boat or in the backyard.
It is the group’s second album, but first full-length album, and first album with Sonstenes, who joined the group in April 2010.
“We’re thinking of this as our debut in terms of a full-length album,” says Blied. “It’s a great chance for us to showcase the band in our new configuration as a full-fledged trio.”
The easy-listening, feel-good music ranges from slow and provocative tunes that will make you want to close your eyes and open your ears to upbeat arrangements of traditional bluegrass and old-time songs that will have you tapping your toes, stomping your feet or even reaching for the spoons.
Both the harmonies and the instrumentals are beautifully performed, and the original music and lyrics are a refreshing take on classic styles.
The album’s 13 tracks range from original material with a bluegrass and old-timey flare with soothing three-part harmonies to traditional songs with sweet new arrangements.
“We’re pushing the boundaries a little bit,” says Bremer. “We don’t want to feel bound by either the bluegrass or old-time styles,” adds Blied.
The trio took the train from Vancouver to Parry Sound, Ont. in January to record the album with producer and sound engineer Andrew Collins (The Creaking Tree String Quartet, The Foggy Hogtown Boys). “We went as musicians on board, which is a program they have that allows us to play for passage to keep our costs down,” says Blied. The trio performed numerous times over the four-night and five-day journey, which gives the old adage singing for your supper a new meaning.
“They even gave us three square meals a day if you could manage to get up early enough for breakfast,” says Blied.
“We were out in the middle of cottage country in the snow. It was really quiet and secluded,” says Sonstenes. “There were no computers. It was really ideal to allow us to focus.”
The CD release party will be Victoria’s first opportunity to purchase The Sweet Lowdown’s first full-length album. They have been touring the material since mid May throughout the province. Tony and Ricky will be opening the show. Guest musicians will be on hand to help round out the sound and duplicate the fuller sound achieved on the record. Surprise merchandise will also be available.
“We’re hoping to present a great night of music and leave the audience inspired and wanting more,” says Blied.
“It will be great because we don’t have to cater to the pub scene. We can really showcase all the different sounds on this album,” says Bremer.
Two previews, “Don’t Walk Away” and “Swing it High to Low” have been uploaded the group’s MySpace profile at myspace.com/the.sweet.lowdown. The Sweet Lowdown will be playing Butchart Gardens July 25, the Coombs Bluegrass Festival July 29 and The edge of the World Festival in Haida Gwaii Aug 5. You can also catch The Sweet Lowdown at the Fernwood Inn every Tuesday from 8 to 11 p.m. M
For more info, visit thesweetlowdown.ca.
The Sweet Lowdown CD Release Party
Thursday, June 23, 7pm Victoria Events Centre (1415 Broad)
$10 advance at Larsen Music, Long & McQuade and Lyle’s Place. $12 at the door. Doors at 7pm, show at 7:30pm
All ages, licensed. Ages 12 and under get in free.