Thursday, 05 July 2018 06:07

Celtic folk duo coming to southwest Saskatchewan and southeast Alberta for summer tour

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A Celtic folk duo from Kitchener, Ontario, will be playing at various venues around southwest Saskatchewan and southeast Alberta during the next two weeks on their 2018 summer tour that coincides with the release of their debut vocal album.


A New Ground is a collaboration between two versatile and trained musicians, Claryssa Webb on fiddle and vocals, and Ryan Dugal on guitar and vocals.
Their new album Forge the Sky was officially released on June 30 during a performance in Kitchener to start their summer tour.
“This is the first time we’ve ever recorded our own original songs with actual lyrics,” Dugal said. “We’ve done some instrumental recordings, because we play a lot of traditional music, but we haven’t actually released our voices like this before.”
They recorded the album in their own recording studio in an old heritage neighbourhood in downtown Kitchener, where they also teach music when they are not performing.
Their goal was to create a warm and real sound on the album that will appeal to anyone listening to the songs.
Both view songwriting as a really unique opportunity to communicate with someone through a song.
“That always seemed really powerful,” he said. “So learning how to craft songs that can do that and learning all the subtle ways of communicating those feelings. That’s kind of where I’m coming from for songwriting. Both of us are trying to affect emotions in other people. … Put on the album and just knock you out of whatever you’re doing, just take you somewhere else.”
They approach songwriting as a collaborative process and their contributions will complement each other.
“There are moments when Ryan just comes up with these beautiful motifs, it’s like the main part of a melody, or even sometimes a chord pattern,” Webb said. “He comes up with this brilliant thing and I harmonize with it, I embellish it.”
Dugal added that he will sometimes work on songwriting ideas in the studio, but then he will bounce his ideas of her.
“Then we get into the studio and Claryssa just starts coming up with these ideas and we’re putting on all these layers,” he said.
One of their main goals has been to avoid fitting their work into some pre-described mould and they do not think in terms of musical genres during the creative process.
“We’re just being ourselves,” he said. “So what you get on the album in terms of different styles is just what it’s like in the moment while we’re writing the song. That’s really it.”
It might be convenient to describe them as a Celtic folk duo, but their musical backgrounds are quite wide and they are bringing all these influences to their music.
“In terms of folk for me, it was really the interest in songwriting that drew me to some great folk artists,” he said. “Then you expose yourself to a genre for a while and some of it tend to start to sink in a little bit and here we are, but we didn’t set out to be a Celtic folk duo. It just kind of happened.”
Dugal is a graduate of the jazz and commercial music program at Humber College. He used to be a drummer that played rock music with his friends and wrote his own music while at school in Kitchener. He has played with different bands on different instruments after college, and he has released albums with these groups.
His collaboration with Webb started about three years ago when they created A New Ground, and this new album represents an important step for him.
“This is really the first album that I can say is all my songs that came from myself wholly,” he said. “I haven’t really been a singer on an album. There’s been a couple of things in the past where I dabbled in it, but this is the first time really.”
Webb grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, where she started playing piano at the age of three and performed with her family's band Webb Surround. She has the ability of perfect pitch and she has completed Royal Conservatory of Music exams for Grade 8 piano, Grade 8 cello, Grade 9 violin, and Grade 10 voice. After school she studied music education and violin at Wilfred Laurier University.
They both enjoy to jam and improvise during live performances, and Webb will bring along quite a few of her instruments on the tour.
On July 13 they will perform at the Irvine Hotel in Irvine, Alberta.
They will have two performances on July 14, starting with an appearance at 11:30 a.m. on Market Square in Swift Current and that evening at 7 p.m. they will be at Cafe Verve in Medicine Hat.
On July 15 they will perform at the Cypress Hills Park amphitheatre, and they will be back in Alberta for an evening performance at the Twin Butte Country General Store on July 19.
Thereafter they will have performances at The Resort at Cypress Hills on July 20, and at the Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park amphitheatre on July 21.
For more information about A New Ground and their summer tour, go to their Facebook page @anewground.

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Matthew Liebenberg

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