Despite being a fairly young band, The Gertrudes, a band from Kingston, Ont., have released an EP, Hard Water, in 2009. They will be releasing their debut LP, Dawn Time Riot, this summer and have already been playing a couple of gigs on the West Coast.
The Gertrudes, play this weekend on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. on Stage 3 and 3:30 p.m. on Stage 7. Then again at 10 a.m. and 2:10 p.m. on Stage 5 on Sunday at the Annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival, which runs from Friday to Sunday.
Greg Tilson of The Gertrudes was able to spend some time this afternoon for a phone interview with Metro Vancouver.
Q: How long has your band been together?
A: About a year-and-a-half. It’s a true story, but one morning, Annie Clifford, our banjo picker, told me about a dream she had, and it was that all these great Kingston musicians would be together. The next morning I just started calling (the people she saw in her dream), and everyone I called was free to get together and jam. We had a few practices together … and the rest is history. We’re all great friends and having a lot of fun, and think there’s lots more to come.
Q: How did you get the band name The Gertrudes?
A: Gertrude was my grandmother and great grandmother’s name. My little sister, who’s name is also Gertrude, was born on the same day my grandmother passed away. We all believe (my sister) is the reincarnation of my grandmother Gertrude. We also wrote a song about it.
Q: For those who have never heard of The Gertrudes, how would you describe your music genre?
A: It’s up for debate … I’ve been kind of describing it as experimental blue grass. Our songs cover a wide spectrum from foot-stomping bluegrass, to way out in left field leading to the more experimental side of things. With the theremin, one of the few instruments you don’t touch to perform, you can manipulate the radio waves and it creates a wonderful ambient type of music to perform.
Q: Your band is playing at the Vancouver Folk Festival this year. Is there someone in particular you are excited to share the Folk Festival stage with this year?
A: Playing at the same festival as Sarah Harmer is an honor, especially since she’s from our hometown, Kingston.
Q: What is the folk music scene like in Vancouver compared to back home in Kingston?
A: We’re learning that there’s some strong bluegrass roots in Vancouver … it’s nice to have that familiarity. Vancouver is making a tremendous impression on us … there’s a wide diversity of music in Vancouver. It is definitely demonstrated in the program for the [Folk Music] Festival - there’s a wide range of music. There’s something for everyone.
Q: Is this your first time playing at the Festival?
A: It’s our first time playing anywhere really. Almost everyone (in our group) hasn’t visited the West Coast before. Wednesday we played at the Vancouver Island MusicFest. The first performance we did was in an old barn and it was a great introduction to the West Coast. We also played outside CBC earlier today.
Q: What do you think about Vancouver so far?
A: Hospitality has been amazing. We feel very at home and thrilled so far. People in the band really love the west coast. I’m a little worried they won’t come home with us.
Q: You mentioned earlier about playing a couple of gigs on the West Coast. How was playing to a Vancouver Crowd?
A: It’s been amazing. People were out dancing and there is a real nice mix of people and families.
Q: Are outdoor performances the type of gigs you would prefer to play?
A: We love festivals, outdoor events and alternative venues. We’re all into the arts…so we like alternative and outdoor gigs with unusual spaces. We have lots of sounds and songs, so we can cater to our surroundings.
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