The Lonesome Ace Stringband is an old-time band with bluegrass credentials playing some righteous Americana music. There's a depth of groove and sense of space not often heard in bluegrass today, a level of instrumental interplay uncommon in old-time, and an on-stage rapport that transcends all of this.
Three Canadians lost in the weird and wonderful traditional country music of the American South, the band members Chris Coole (banjo), John Showman (fiddle) and Max Malone (bass) are each journeyman musicians and veterans of some of Canada's top roots music acts (New Country Rehab, The David Francey Band, The Foggy Hogtown Boys, Fiver).
Instrumentation alone instantly sets LAS's sound apart: consisting of just fiddle, clawhammer banjo, and upright bass, the band moves freely between having a sound so powerful that it doesn't seem like it should be coming from a trio to a sparseness and fragility that draws the listener in and refreshes the ear. All three are compelling lead singers, each with his own character and range. This allows for the vocal texture to shift depending on how the song needs to feel - and what the song has to say. When those voices come together the power of the harmonies is unshakable. It's clear to anyone who's heard LAS that they just don't sound like any other band.
One must, however, look at the roots of LAS to understand where the sound comes from. Starting in 2007, the band took up residency in Toronto's legendary Dakota Tavern routinely playing 10 sets of music every weekend. LAS spent 7 years as a house band before ever taking the show on the road or recording a note. In these days when new records and buzz-bands come at us like a jacked-up news cycle, this workaday approach hearkens to another era. Those years were a gestation period that allowed for a type of looseness and intuition to develop, something that can only come from experienced musicians clocking hundreds of on-stage hours together.
As of 2023, the band has toured internationally, been engaged at some of the largest festivals in North America and Europe (including Merlefest, Rockygrass, Wintergrass, Winnipeg Folk Festival, Vancouver Folk Festival, Gooikorts, John Hartford Memorial), and recorded five albums. On the first two albums, Old Time (2014), and Gone For Evermore (2016) the band leaned heavily on the traditional old-time cannon to express what it needed to say musically. On subsequent releases - When the Sun Comes Up (2018), Modern Old Time Sounds for the Bluegrass and Folksong Jamboree (2019), Lively Times (2021) - the band showcased its songwriting, offering up a more progressive interpretation of old-time music, and taking it's sound to new places.
The band is currently putting the finishing touches on its sixth release; all-original album continues the band's journey exploring the crossroads of old-time with bluegrass, Americana, and pop. It is expected to be available in the fall of 2023.
True North Duo: Songsmith Kristen Grainger & guitarist/luthier Dan Wetzel, co-founders of Americana string band True North, bring a big bagful of great songs to The Belfry November 29.
They are racking up songwriting honors and awards, showcasing at SXSW after Kristen won the USA Songwriting competition (folk). She also has won or been a finalist in national songwriting contests at Rocky Mountain Songwriters Festival, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Wildflower, MerleFest and Kerrville.
She was named, alongside Brandi Carlile and Dolly Parton, one of the Women Who Wrote Our 2020 Soundtrack by The Bluegrass Situation.
Regulars at Wintergrass, Winter Music Festival and Wheeler County Bluegrass Festival, Kristen Grainger & True North performed in 2022 at the Sisters Folk Festival and the SFF 2021 Summer Concert series.