In 2013, David Newberry and O’mally are engaging in a number of tours with a shared four-piece acoustic backing band, including upright bass, violin/viola, banjo and guitar, and they will play at the Snoring Sasquatch on June 13.
Newberry sings folk songs with rock sensibilities — or is it the other way around? Either way, his compositions provide insights into the complex contemporary social world through musical and lyrical exploration.
His 2010 CD, When We Learn The Things We Need To Learn, established him as a legitimate force in Canadian music, catching the eye of several of Canada’s roots elite, including Juno winner David Francey, who calls him “absolutely brilliant,” and Exclaim! magazine, which pegged him way back then as “an artist to watch,” more recently upgrading him to “evidence that Canadian roots music is in good hands.”
His 2012 release, No One Will Remember You (produced by Adam Iredale-Gray of Fiddle-head Studios and featuring members of the Deep Dark Woods, Fish and Bird, The Gruff, O’mally, DRMHLLR, and more) made a number of best of 2012 lists, and sets a contemporary experimental rock vibe against a backdrop that is firmly rooted in timeless roots music.
Newberry came to music later than most of his peers, and via a path that is less than typical. At 20 years old, while training as a carpenter, a construction accident left him without the use of his left hand. When his physiotherapist suggested learning an instrument as a means to rebuild his injured appendage, he chose the guitar and never looked back, emerging quickly as poet with a hankering for noise.
There is a joy in Newberry’s sometimes sombre music that is hard to explain. His live shows are frequently full of storytelling, humour and a strange celebration of life somehow rooted in a twisted pessimism. Not one to waste words, he packs each phrase with the kind of thought, meaning and complexity that is most often associated with singer-songwriters of the 1960s. But don’t get the wrong idea — Newberry’s music is inescapably forward looking, constantly aiming to broaden the understanding of what roots music sounds like.
From the oceanside forests and farms of Canada’s West Coast, comes the free-range style of O’mally, a fresh face from the Gulf Islands, and a breakout artist with a distinctive sound. O’mally’s well paced clawhammer banjo and acoustic guitar layer her strong and earthy vocals.
Since the May 2010 release of her debut album, Speck, O’mally has enjoyed a swift foray into the spotlight of popular roots music. She’s toured the lengths of the country for festivals and shows, hit No. 3 on the national earshot folk/roots charts, and continues to attract the attention of swaths of new fans, peers, and media. She’s caught the ear of many a radio station, including every campus and community station between Victoria and Toronto, and Canada’s national radio network, the CBC.
Tickets are $12 in advance at Black Bear Books and Kingfisher Used Books, and $15 at the door, which opens at 7 p.m.; the show begins at 8.