Folk music isn’t always old, even when it sounds like something lifted straight from a vintage ceilidh. For proof, witness The East Pointers, and Secret Victory, an adrenalized, roof-rattling, performance monster of a debut album by a stylist trio from Prince Edward Island on Canada’s wind-whipped East Coast.
Secret Victory stands on the shoulders of the giants from the illustrious Celtic/folk musical canon. Yet it features 10 brand new original tracks written by guitarist Jake Charron, fiddler Tim Chaisson and his cousin, banjoist Koady Chaisson, vocalists all and, in the case of the Chaissons, members of Prince Edward Island’s seven-generation musical dynasty.
Almost without trying, the trio makes ridiculously hip folk music.
Written in Australia during a January 2015 tour, supporting The East Pointers’ self-titled debut EP, and essentially cut live off the floor at Hamilton, Ontario’s Catherine North Studios a few months later, the self-produced Secret Victory is an album that proudly wears its influences on its sleeve while blazing its own musical trail.
‘Folk music is equivalent to soul music in my mind. It can take you to another place even if you haven’t heard it before,’ Tim Chaisson says.
‘We really wanted to record original stuff. We all love composing and putting our own little style on a style of music that goes back generations’, explains Koady Chaisson, when asked if the idea of cutting tunes from the traditional songbook was ever floated as a possibility.
He continues: ‘We are the seventh generation of musicians in our family, and what we do is a little different than what our uncles might do for example, which would be more Scottish influenced. We embrace the Scottish influence… but also Irish and French and so on.’
‘We went into the studio with the goal of making this sound as live as possible,’ says Charron, an Ontario native also hailing from a family of traditional musicians.
Even before releasing Secret Victory, The East Pointers knew they were onto something, having accepted the awards for their music: 2015 Music P.E.I. New Artist of the Year and (for their EP) Roots
Traditional Recording of the Year. They were also nominated for Traditional Instrumental Recording of the Year at the 2015 East Coast Music Awards. And the band is very much in demand live, and set to return to the UK and Australia in late 2015 and again in early 2016 after extensive touring in Canada.
As for Secret Victory, perhaps no song presents a more complete snapshot of The East Pointers’ coalesced talents than the title track. Secret Victory is a ripping pair of new jigs, leading the instrumental charge of the album with energy and celebration.It’s a taste of The East Pointers’ an unusually powerful sound.
‘Jake has two pick-ups on his guitar allowing him to play guitar and bass at the same time, creating a big sound,’ Tim Chaisson explains. ‘I play a stomp-box with one foot and a tambourine with the other to add rhythm. And Koady usually step dances during that tune live – another tradition in our family.’
Both Tim and Koady Chaisson confirm they were encouraged to preserve and uphold East Coast folk music tradition by members of the sprawling Chaisson clan. (The Chaissons’ grandfather Joe PeteChaisson co-founded the Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival in 1976 to promote and fund fiddle playing across Canada’s Prince Edward Island.)
‘Everyone in my family either plays fiddle or dances. Music was always around us, and it was just a way of life.’ Koady says. Tim adds, ‘Growing up, I was playing fiddle before I realized I was playing fiddle if that makes any sense. I think with any family tradition, it’s introduced so young that it almost becomes second nature.’
‘We hope this record translates’, Koady says. ‘I guess that is every artists’ dream when you put in so much creative energy.’ The East Pointers are on their way.
East Pointers appears at Kingskerswell Parish Church (St Marys) Kingskerswell TQ12 5LD on February 8th Tickets £10adv from 01803 875527or www.seetickets.com www.skiddle.com or www.wegottickets.com Doors 7pm. Further info 01803 875527 or www.worldunlimited.co.uk graham.worldunlimited@gmail.
(from a press release)