Newfoundland musical trio The Once coming to Stone Crop Acres

MORRISBURG – They may have begun as a cover band some years ago, with music ranging from traditional Newfoundland styles “to Elvis and Queen,” but now The Once is recognized as one of the finest musical groups to ever come from The Rock. And on Sunday, May 12, at 7 p.m., courtesy of Harmony Concerts, this musical trio will be appearing at Stone Crop Acres Winery for one concert only.

Geraldine Hollett, lead vocals, Phil Churchill, vocals and instrumentalist, and Andrew Dale, vocals and instrumentalist, have combined to create a distinctive and powerful musical voice. Winners of East Coast Music Awards and Canadian Music Awards, who use guitars, mandolins, fiddles and the long-necked, Greek origin, bouzouki, they tell stories and share their “Canadiana/Americana music with folk overtones” with growing legions of fans.

I did ask singer Geraldine Hollett about the band’s unique name. “Well, it actually means ‘in a minute’.” she explained, “ a phrase with French origins that shows up in the Dictionary of Newfoundland English: it’s an expression we say all the time. The name, The Once, just hit us, and,” she laughed, “fifteen years later, we’re still D’Once – as you might say it in Newfoundland.”

“We haven’t really been “traditional” since 2012,” Geraldine said. “I think we fall more under the folk umbrella. We love to make music that explores atmosphere and space: our latest album (Out Here, released in 2023) creates a space between voices and music, a place for people to live in while they listen.”

Many themes interest these musicians when they are writing their music. Phil and Andrew and Geraldine “think as artists, because we have been artists for 20 years now. The three of us are willing to dig into topics like grief, and human behaviour, about how to be better humans. I think everyone understands,” Geraldine said.

“That the world has not actually turned out the way we all thought it would when we were kids. Still, in our music we want to bring that joy, that curiosity of childhood back. That’s a direction out music takes us.” The three musicians tend to write separately, then they bring their ideas to each other “to be Once-ified.” she laughed. “Each of us has his own strengths, and we’ve been together long enough that we have common musical grounds. We’re always sharing new ideas and oddly enough, we are often interested in some of the same other artists, musicians like Greg Allan Isakov and Darlingside.”

The writing and the music does not stop for The Once. They have their own studio now, and creating new music is a joy for them. So are the tours they make across Canada.

The Once is looking forward to performing at the Winery in Morrisburg. “I don’t want to sound like a cliché,” Geraldine said, “but we love connecting with people. Every night with a live audience is a different show, with different gifts in the room, which is magic for us. When you perform live, as musicians and the audience, you actually create something very unique and great together.”

The Once will be at Stone Crop Acres on May 12, one of the terrific Harmony Concert series planned for this summer. This promises to be an evening of truly outstanding musical entertainment. As Geraldine says, “We simply love this life of adventure, of music and of writing. I call it “safe-ish” exploration, and we are looking forward to sharing our songs with listeners.”

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