The Strumbellas’ Star Climbing Higher

Photo by Heather Pollock
Photo by Heather Pollock

Over the last number of tours they have undertaken, Canadian roots-rock institution Blue Rodeo has customarily invited their support acts to join them onstage for a rendition of their classic 1992 track “Lost Together.”

Simon Ward, the guitarist-vocalist for Lindsay, Ont. band The Strumbellas, was so nervous about messing up the words to his assigned verse of “Lost Together” on the first night of their tour together that he took to scrawling one and two word cues on the back of his hand before going on stage.

“I’m sure every Canadian knows the chorus to that song, myself included. I was a little more apprehensive about nailing the verse I was going to sing though, so giving myself some reminders seemed like the logical solution,” Ward says.

Frankly speaking, it won’t be all that surprising to see The Strumbellas soon headlining their own shows from coast to coast. It has been a steady rise for the band in the four years since the release of their independent full-length effort, My Father and the Hunter.

Not long after, the group signed with influential Canadian record label Six Shooter Records, going on to release their sophomore record, We Still Move On Dance Floors, in 2013. The next year, the group won the Juno Award for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year.

Now just two months into 2016, even bigger things appear to be in store for the band:

At the start of the year, the group confirmed they had signed a recording deal with Glassnote Records, an internationally-acclaimed record label that is home to acts including Mumford & Sons, Phoenix and fellow Canadian act Half Moon Run.

The label will release the band’s third record, Hope, for the world excluding Canada in April 2016. Here at home, the band will remain aligned with Six Shooter.

Ward is still in a state of disbelief at the way things are working out for the group.

“I’m not sure how [label owner] Daniel Glass got a copy of our record, but we got a call from him out of the blue. He flew to Toronto, we had lunch and it seemed like the deal was done in a matter of days,” Ward says.

“It’s a pretty exciting place to be, to have our band aligned with a label with a proven track record. Never mind the fact we get to call ourselves label-mates with bands like Phoenix and Mumford & Sons.”

Pressed for details on the group’s upcoming record, Ward says he feels the band is starting to hit their stride, and have delivered a record that more than represents where the band is at in the present day:

“It’s cliché to say, but I really do feel it’s our best work. Half of the record is rooted in the ‘classic’ Strumbellas sound while the other half of the record, we were looking to push the boundaries of what people have come to expect from the group. This album all about evolution and us striving to define a sound that is specific to The Strumbellas.”

What: The Strumbellas, special guests to Blue Rodeo
When: Thursday Feb. 25, 8 p.m.
Where: Casino New Brunswick, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
The show is sold out.