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Wednesday, 13 August 2014 09:36

Swift Current band to celebrate recording with EP release party

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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Swift Current alternative-ambient folk group Bears in Hazenmore during a performance at the Lyric Theatre. From left to right. Dalton Lam (trumpet), Brady Frank (vocals, guitar), Tanner Wilhelm Hale (drums, vocals), Dana Rempel (bass) and Darnell Stewart (guitar). Swift Current alternative-ambient folk group Bears in Hazenmore during a performance at the Lyric Theatre. From left to right. Dalton Lam (trumpet), Brady Frank (vocals, guitar), Tanner Wilhelm Hale (drums, vocals), Dana Rempel (bass) and Darnell Stewart (guitar). Photo contributed

An alternative-ambient folk group from Swift Current will be celebrating their debut EP with a show at Gowan’s Grove on Aug. 16.

The five members of Bears in Hazenmore came together during the summer of 2013 to create the group.
“We’ve been playing for about a year now,” lead vocalist Brady Frank said. “We started last summer, just writing some tunes, and then wrote some more songs over the winter and some over the summer as well.”
Frank is responsible for writing most of group’s own music and he also plays the guitar, trombone and keyboard.
The group started to take shape after he introduced some of his musical ideas to his long-time friend Dana Rempel, who plays bass and saxophone. They were joined by Dalton Lam (trumpet, keyboard), Tanner Wilhelm Hale (drums, vocals) and Darnell Stewart (guitar).
“It’s a bit of a blend of genres,” Frank said about the band’s sound. “It’s a blend of alternative folk music and then it also has a sort of jazz and rock feel.”
This is a reflection of the jazz, rock and classical music background of band members. There is a strong focus on ambient guitar in their music in combination with brass and woodwind instruments as well as dynamic percussion. The American indie folk band Bon Iver is an important influence on Bears in Hazenmore.
“It sounds a lot like them,” he said. “The vocals are a bit different, because it’s not as high.”
Other groups that influence them are City and Colour, Local Natives, Explosions In The Sky, and Aidan Knight.
“Explosions in the Sky is sort of the guitar sound we have,” he explained. “We don’t structure our songs in the same way and they’re not written in the same way, but if you listen to Darnell’s guitar, it sounds like one of the guys from Explosions in the Sky is playing it.”
The five band members grew up in Swift Current, but are now studying in different locations. Frank acknowledged it presents a challenge for them to jam together during the school year, but he and two other band members are in Regina.
“So I do get to play with them quite a bit but we usually aim for practising around holidays and when we come home for Christmas and Easter,” he said. “I wish that we did have more of an opportunity. … It’s only about four months a year that we’re in the same city.”
The lyrics of his songs reflect his own life experiences or are based on storytelling ideas from books he read or movies he watched. For example, the idea for the song Sarajevo came from a book he read about the siege of the city Sarajevo during the Bosnian War in the 1990s. Some of the lyrics also reflect a connection to the prairies.
“There’s a couple of songs,” he said. “One’s about missing the prairies when you’re not in the prairies, the charm of the prairies that you usually don’t think about because it’s flat and boring, but you miss when you’re away.”
He has also written songs about the Cypress Hills that highlight the unique location of this forest in the middle of the prairies.
“I find that really interesting,” he said. “There’s a song called Boiler Creek, which is actually a creek that runs through the Cypress Hills.”
The band’s name also has an interesting link to the prairies. Frank and Rempel went to Hazenmore to set up a large tent that was rented from the Art Gallery of Swift Current. They were invited to lunch by local residents and during the conversation a young boy was retelling a story about a bear sighting that happened in Alberta, but he thought the incident took place in Hazenmore.
“So we just thought that sounded like a really cool, catchy name,” Frank said.
“So we stuck with it, Bears in Hazenmore, as if there were bears there.”
The group recorded their first EP in March at a studio in Saskatoon during two 10-hour sessions over a weekend. It contains three tracks with a total length of 15 minutes.
“We’re pretty excited about that,” he said.
At the time they had around six original songs to select from, but since then they have written a few more.
“We thought that our first release would be better to have a shorter record and also financially to put a full length record, just starting out, is quite difficult,” he said.
At the EP release party on Aug. 16 they will be playing these songs as well as some of their other 11 original songs and a few cover songs. Bears in Hazenmore will also headline the Lyric Theatre’s Open Stage on Aug. 15 and they will be performing an acoustic set at Urban Ground coffeehouse in Swift Current on Aug. 20.
The EP release party will be at Gowan’s Grove, which is located about 10 minutes south of Swift Current on the farm of Shann and Ray Gowan.
“It’s this nice little place that’s nestled in some trees,” Frank said. “So we’re going to set up a tent and then also have lights in the trees.”
Entrance is $10 and music will start at 8 p.m. The two opening acts will be Colter Wall and Stacy Tinant, and Logan Amon will be doing a solo bass set during the Bears in Hazenmore performance.
The first track on the EP, Winter Air, will be released as a single during the fall and the album will also be available on iTunes and on the Bandcamp website.
For more information about the band and for details about the EP release party, including directions to Gowan’s Grove, visit the Bears in Hazenmore Facebook page.

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