Country music lovers, come on down!
On Saturday, April 6, New Country Rehab, a dynamic four man band, is coming to the St. Lawrence Stage for one incredible concert, starting at 7 p.m.
“New Country Rehab is high octane alt,” said St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage board member, Sandra Whitworth. She has seen the group perform, and claims she was simply swept away by their concert.
“Their roots are definitely country, yet they take their music in a direction that is completely surprising. I think our audience will be enthralled. New Country Rehab will be as much a hit with people who might say “I don’t like country,” as these musicians will be with the country music aficionados.”
Described by the Winnipeg Free Press as “Canada’s answer to Mumford & Sons” and a country band that has “bred something extraordinary and singular,” New Country Rehab hails from Toronto.
The band is composed of lead singer and fiddle player, John Showman, Champagne James Robertson on guitar, Ben Whiteley on double bass and Roman Tome on drums and backing vocals. All are outstanding, seasoned musicians in their own right: all have performed with some of the biggest concert names in Canada.
New Country Rehab is a modern, high-voltage, alt-country band, yet steeped in the traditional sounds of old time classic country: the band brings a unique, exciting and original edge to their music.
I caught up with lead vocalist John Showman as the band was en route to a concert tour in British Columbia and asked him where the name New Country Rehab came from.
“After I had found the guys I wanted, and who wanted to be in this band, and right before we were due at our first gig, my wife and I looked across the street and spotted a furniture store with a window display,” Showman explained. “She said we ought to use the word refurbish in our name. Refurbish became rehabilitate, then rehab.
It seemed to work because we felt that we wanted to take the old country style of music, that traditional country sound, and somehow make it new again. We were determined to retain country themes, but to find a new approach, to deliver a new twist on the traditional country sound. The name eventually evolved into New Country Rehab.”
The band’s roots really are firmly planted in country. When the musicians first got together in 2010, their plan was to revive country classics by artists like Hank Williams.
Their well received, self titled, first album, came out in 2011, and featured their take on other people’s music. But Ghost of Your Charms, just released in March, 2013, is mostly original work, and is quickly garnering critical and fan praise.
“In composing songs, I think our creativity is shared. (James, Ben, Roman and I) work together and share writing credits. If one person has an idea, we play with the potential song until we are comfortable with it. Do songs come easily? That depends. ‘Back in Time’ on our new album took a lot of work, but ‘Lost Highway’ came together very quickly.”
The term alt-country has been applied to the band’s sound. As John Showman pointed out, however, describing music is not the same as hearing it.
“I would say that we are people playing music with timeless themes, ideas which have been celebrated in folk music for centuries.
There really are classic themes tied to country – ballads about heroes and villains, spirituality and mortality, and of course, love songs. We want to continue to keep those traditional roots while appealing to a wide range of listeners.”
He and the band are looking forward to their concert at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage on April 6, where they will be playing both sets.
“On stage, we try to stay open to different audiences, to get a sense of them from the stage,” Showman said. “We want to develop warmth and finesse with our listeners. Actually,” he added, “it’s easy to relate to any audience when you really love what you are doing. We do.”
For an evening of country music to remember, don’t miss New Country Rehab in concert at the St. Lawrence Stage on April 6, beginning at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $15 in advance, or $18 at the door.
Tickets are available at the Basket Case, Strung Out Guitars or Compact Music or by contacting www.st-lawrencestage.com