The Strumbellas formed in an unorthodox manner, but perhaps that is only fitting for a band that describes itself as folk-pop, rock-grass and alt-country all wrapped up into one.
When Strumbellas lead singer and guitarist Simon Ward moved to Toronto from the small town of Lindsay, Ontario, he didn’t have many friends but had an urge to start a band. His solution? Craigslist.
“I didn’t really have any friends that I knew that were interested in starting a band so Craigslist was just an option I tried,” said Ward. “I had a bunch of people come to my apartment and it just worked out.”
Most of his Craigslist recruits have since dropped out, but two remain, violinist Isabel Ritchie and pianist/organist Dave Ritter.
The rest of the group, drummer Jeremy Drury, guitarist Jon Hembrey and bassist Darryl James all hail from Ward’s hometown and joined up soon after to give the Strumbellas their current lineup of six.
The band’s self-titled EP was released in 2009 and they have since released follow up albums in 2012 and 2013, with their latest titled We Still Move on Dance Floors.
The song End of an Era was a particular challenge for the group after Ward sent out a demo version of the tune with some lyrical issues.
“I have had the book Love in the Time of Cholera on my bookshelf for years and I’ve never read it. I’ve watched movies and TV shows until the cows come home and it just struck me as odd that I never took the time to pick up this prize winning book,” Ward said.
Ward’s first draft of the song included the title of the book in the chorus, but his version had the wrong pronunciation for cholera, and the correct pronunciation simply didn’t fit into the song.
“I don’t know how I didn’t know (the correct way to say cholera) but I didn’t,” Ward laughed.
His fellow bandmates wouldn’t stand for the wrong pronunciation, but Ritter saved the song when he came up with the line “Love at the end of an era” to replace it.
The Strumbellas will be performing in Golden on July 30 as part of Kicking Horse Culture’s Summer Kicks series.
It’ll be just one of the many stops for the Juno-nominated group on its summer festival tour.
“Festivals are definitely at the top of the list. Not only are you playing for a lot of people but usually it’s nice weather and big stages, but just the vibe is great,” said Ward.
Ward says the band is looking forward to its Western Canadian gigs and that the mid-summer audience at Spirit Square can expect to hear some high energy music from the folk group.
For more info and to hear sample music from the group, log on to www.thestrumbellas.ca.