By Therese Schultz
CALGARY — It is difficult to imagine living on the prairies without some sort of somber, poetic, alt-folk/country music to provide the soundtrack to endless wheat fields, marshlands and distant mountains. Deep Dark Woods, a band whose warm but poignant lyrics remind you of cool nights by the fireplace, have found that they’ve received an explosive reception to their music in Europe, more so even than they have received right here at home in Western Canada.
Ryan Boldt, lead singer and main lyricist for the Saskatoon-based band, notes that the shows they’ve played in places like Copenhagen have given them reason to tour Europe multiple times in the band’s nearly eight-year lifespan. Despite the United States’ penchant for producing multitudes of artists famous for country/folk sounds, Boldt says that he’s noticed that the culture in Denmark is more accepting of their sound; they have given the band an easier ground to break, he says,
“The States are very difficult to break into. Denmark and Holland are probably the two best countries for the new record and our past shows; Canada, of course, is great. We went and played a festival maybe two or three years ago and, ever since then, we’ve done really well there, in Copenhagen, etc. It’s strange and satisfying. I think, in general, this is just my theory, but in Europe, people there search out music, people like Bill Callahan are huge over in those countries, and then you come back to the U.S. and play in Knoxville and only have 100 people at your show. It’s a different place over there, people like music in a different way there than they do in North America.”
While their desire to stay over in Europe is potent, the band has just recently been nominated for the Western Canadian Music Award for their album, Jubilee, which was released on Six Shooter Records back in September 2013. Boldt says that Jubilee was his most favourite album to write and record, a process, which, he says, usually sees him writing lyrics alone to older traditional folk ballads from artists like Shirley Collins and Bert Jansch’s band, The Pentangle.
For Jubilee, in particular, Boldt had help from fellow band mates, guitarist Clayton Linthicum and bassist, Chris Mason for coming up with the words for the new album and mixing them together, otherwise, writing alone while on tour can be quite the undertaking, Boldt says. “I don’t really write on tour because we share a hotel room, it’s harder to write… On this record, I mixed it up: I wrote some of it in my parents’ basement in B.C. and then other songs were written in my house in Saskatoon. Some of them were written with Clayton, our new guitar player — I think he helped me out with four of those songs. And Chris wrote four of the tunes, as well. It was a bit of a mix-up this time.”
While Boldt and his band aren’t crooning out beautifully lilting folk ballads with a gritty Southern flare, he spends his time reading and has become an amateur meat-curer. Boldt says that some of his time is spent trying to find room in his refrigerator to store smaller cures that he’s working on. He most recently read a book on meat curing, on tour, which he says is keeping him busy while he’s at home. “I’ve been doing like short cures with bacon and deli meats, like pastrami. I am trying to learn how to do hams and dry cures where you hang the meat. It’s a little more difficult than bacon. I just do two or three cures at a time; I’ve got enough room in the fridge, for now. Well, I plan on, when I get a bigger place, I’ll be hanging meats all over the place.”
Catch Deep Dark Woods at the Winnipeg Folk Fest on July 12th, at the Calgary Folk Fest on July 26th and at the Canmore Folk Fest on August 3rd.AB, Alberta, Calgary Folk Music Festival, Canmore Folk Festival, Deep Dark Woods, Manitoba, MB, Winnipeg Folk Festival