Looks can be deceiving. So when Nova Scotian rock band The Stanfields take the stage at Moncton’s Capitol Theatre on Thursday night to deliver an all-acoustic performance, rest assured it is the very same band that has given the world rousing songs like “The Dirtiest Drunk (In The History of Liquor)” and “Death & Taxes” among others.
The world of performing acoustic music is nothing new to the Stanfields, however. Not only has the band undertaken acoustic tours in the past, supporting the likes of the Trews and others, the group also has one full-length acoustic effort – 2013’s For King and Country – to their credit.
Stanfields vocalist-guitarist Jon Landry says he feels the acoustic side of the group is a completely natural extension of the band.
“Playing acoustically has been a normal piece of the Stanfields for so long,” he begins. “I actually tend to lean more towards folk music than rock and roll anyway. I always loved artists like John Prine and country guys like Randy Travis; that kind of stuff has always been with me.”
Not coincidentally, Landry shares the Stanfields started as an acoustic act, but more out of necessity than anything else.
“At the time, I was living in an apartment, where playing acoustically was really the only way we were able to practice. It’s not like we had the option to crank up our amplifiers and melt the paint off the walls. Because of that, many of our songs started on acoustic instruments. In fact, in its earliest incarnation, ‘The Dirtiest Drunk’ was our own acapella song in the vein of [Stan Rogers’ track] ‘Barrett’s Privateers,’” Landry says with a laugh.
As the band honed their sound, however, Landry notes that their youthful energy and enthusiasm ended up steering them in the direction of becoming an electric band. He admits the group might not have thought twice about ever showcasing their acoustic roots had it not been for former Stanfields member Craig Harris who, while on tour in Ontario, played the group the traditional song “The Blacksmith,” performed by acclaimed Irish folk group Planxty.
“Listening to Planxty’s musical interplay hit me and the rest of the band like a ton of bricks. When we stepped back and looked at the songs we had written up to that point, we realized that folk-inspired style of music wasn’t too far outside of the wheelhouse of what we had been doing.”
First came the acoustic performances in unlikely venues such as radio stations. While this may not be outside of the box for a lot of bands, Landry said the group never wanted to approach playing acoustically as being some kind of novelty. He insists it was the path they had chosen was very much a deliberate decision.
“When we decided as a band to move in this direction, we never wanted to be that group that just turned in half-cocked acoustic versions of our songs. We wanted to put a collection of material together that actually carried weight and could stand on its own.”
Although he doesn’t explicitly state that another acoustic record is on the horizon, Landry says The Stanfields’ acoustic side will remain an integral part of the band’s identity. Understanding it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, he says that recording and performing acoustically has helped the group branch out their reach to fans that might not have ever come to know the band otherwise.
“You’ve got some folks that are loyal to the acoustic side of the group that don’t enjoy the electric side and vice versa. From a solely business perspective, it makes sense for the band to cast our net as widely as we are able to cast it. We might have never attracted some people to the band otherwise,” Landry offers.
“Most musicians get into playing music as a way to express themselves; you need to entertain yourself before you can entertain others. Everything else is gravy, especially if you’re fortunate enough to be able to make a career of it, or have someone connect with something you’ve written. That’s when it becomes something really special.”
Joining the band on Thursday night will be special guest Mike Bochoff. His namesake group, The Mike Bochoff Band, recently signed a recording and managment contract with Nova Scotia’s Groundswell Music. The group’s most recent effort is 2014’s Start ‘Em Young, with new material due from the band in the near future.
What: The Stanfields – Acoustic
When: Thursday May 26, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Capitol Theatre, 811 Main St., Moncton
Tickets are $30 plus service charges. Advance tickets are available at the Capitol Theatre Box Office, by phone (506) 856-4379 and online at capitol.nb.ca