The River and the Road: Former foes join forces to form formidable partnership

Thursday 23rd, July 2015 / 02:03
By Kristie Sparksman
local folk-stompers bring energy and life to the stage… and banjos! Photo: Retrieved from The River and the Road Facebook page.

Vancouver folk-stompers bring energy and life to the stage… and banjos!
Photo: Retrieved from The River and the Road Facebook page.

VANCOUVER — A must-have for hazy summer nights is live music that carries you off with its storytelling and melodies. When it comes to fabricating fables, look no further than Vancouver based The River and the Road. Since 2012, the folk-rock foursome have stitched together their life stories in order to pursue the tenacious act of winning over the world with their honest, true grit tales. “What helps me write is really interacting with people in my day to day life,” explains singer/banjo player Keenan Lawlor. Good thing this is the case, because the boys are knee-deep in festival season, drawing inspiration from the coast to coast tours they’ve completed right before a timeslot at the ever-growing Squamish Valley Music Festival.

“I love music festivals,” Lawlor exclaims, “the energy, the crowd, the people are what really makes it.” Lawlor and singer/guitarist Andrew Phelan started off with a different kind of friendship, previously seeing each other as territorial competition. When the two decided to join forces instead of duke it out at local open mic nights in East Van, a magical story with two protagonists formed. By coming together with drummer Cole George and bassist John Hayes, the four have been able to release two dynamic full-length albums, and successfully tour internationally.

Self-titled and debut effort, The River and the Road is a compellingly honest look into growing up and learning along the way. Songs like “Blueprint” and “The Patron” have won over crowds with their powerful percussion and strikingly vulnerable lyrics, more recently the Australian crowds in Sydney and Melbourne. With their 2015 release of Headlights, The River and the Road are content with their progress between albums. “We work together really well, and all do our part in the band,” Lawlor confides. “It helps to feel energized by doing something that you love”.

The boys don’t have to worry about fitting right in with the talented line up in the Squamish Valley, their live show – a delicate mixture of pain and intelligence – has been touted as not to be missed. Plus they have a banjo player, guys!

The River and the Road play the Squamish Valley Music Festival August 6. 

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