Burying Ground resurrects old songs with new spirit

By Tiina Liimu
Dev and Woody are digging up the past with their new album as Burying Ground. Photo: Alexis Hogan

Dev and Woody are digging up the past with their new album as Burying Ground.
Photo: Alexis Hogan

VANCOUVER — Sweaty persistence, game-changing road trips, and a bold leap of faith turned the soil for Burying Ground, the result emerged as the full-length album Big City Blues.

For fixtures in Vancouver’s DIY music community, circumstances seeded a collection of real life stories told as country blues, folk and ragtime songs. Originally with The Dire Wolves, Dev and Woody found themselves without a guitarist and vocalist when Blake Bamford moved out of the big city. This prompted both to work on their vocal chops and Woody to pick up a guitar and step into a different style of playing.

Collaborations include artists: Joseph Lubinsky-Mast, Jack Garton, Kathleen Nisbet Candice Roberts and Josh Doherty. In the studio, Woody and Dev credit Mark Lawrence of Big in Japan Recordings, as a huge creative inspiration.

They take their cues from another era with Woody studying pre war and acoustic blues. “I listen to so much old blues and was inspired by all these great artists and bands to pick up the guitar and try to capture some of that in our own music,” he says.

“Dev has been listening to more than a few washboard players from my record collection and has picked up the different beats and rhythms that drive the music we love.”

Travelling south where their influences came from, the spirit has left an undeniable impression on the two. “I visited the Mississippi John Hurt Museum, which is in Avalon,” says Dev. A meeting with caretaker Floyd Bailey resulted in the Brass King washboard she plays now.

A 2011 trip to the historically rich New Orleans lit the fire for older styles. “I came back with a new appreciation for music and decided to take it more seriously than I had before,” says Woody.

While standards dust their live set, the lyrics focus on subject matter that compel them. “One of the greatest parts of performing and getting our music out there, is you get to write a ‘sort of soundtrack,’ to inspire people or bring awareness to social issues,” she says. Their musical arrangements are a partnership with Woody writing songs and Dev handling further elements. “I write melodies, lyrics and I sing them to Woody and he figures them out on guitar,” she explains.

Like a needle to the record of reverence, Burying Ground’s namesake not only comes from a Blind Lemon Jefferson song. “It’s a place where people put those that they have lost, to rest. This is how I feel [about] the old songs of the past; people have almost forgotten where all the popular music of today came from,” says Woody. “We feel that we are a part of a growing number of musicians resurrecting old songs and giving them another chance to live again.”

You too can visit these at upcoming Vancouver and Alberta dates! When you catch Burying Ground remember to ask for a copy of Big City Blues!

Burying Ground perform in Vancouver at Ouisi Bistro June 30th & July 1st and at the Union St Block Party on July 4th. In Calgary, catch them at Broken City August 12th.

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