The Jerry Cans Taking Baby Steps Toward The Big Time

You’ll have to forgive Andrew Morrison, vocalist and guitarist of fast-rising northern Canadian band the Jerry Cans, for sounding overjoyed at the notion of the Maritimes getting their first taste of winter over the last two weeks.

Without the slightest hint of condescension in his voice, he insists that it’s really nothing compared to where he is coming from.

“I love the cold,” Morrison says, noting his hometown of Iqaluit, Nunavut has been mired in winter weather for weeks now.

“It got up to minus 18 today; that’s pretty warm to us. I’m sure arriving in the Maritimes will feel downright tropical to some extent,” he says, laughing.

Boasting a unique mix of alt-country, throat singing, and reggae, the Jerry Cans are leaving their mark upon the music world, but it is the indisputable fact the group sings in its native Inuktitut that helps set them apart from contemporaries.

The group originally came together as a way for Morrison and his bandmates, including Nancy Mike (Accordion/Throat Singing), Gina Burgess on violin, bassist Brendan Doherty and drummer Steve Rigby, to occupy themselves during Nunavut’s seemingly endless winter.

Morrison says it was with Nancy’s arrival in the group that they truly began exploring themes of life and culture in a territory that is home to just over 35,000 people in total.

“Before Nancy joined the band, we were just playing old rock and roll songs. We hadn’t necessarily put much thought and consideration into those specifics as we never expected the group to ever get out of Iqaluit. When Nancy and I struck up a relationship outside of the band, I learned Inuktitut as a way to communicate with her father and grandfather, both of whom didn’t speak any English. That led to me writing songs in Inuktitut, and it just kind of stuck for the band from that time on.”

In the approximate six years since the group’s current lineup came together, the Jerry Cans have performed across Canada and in select parts of the U.S., but has also brought their music to faraway places such as Australia, Scotland, Norway, Germany, and Iceland.

Although Morrison equates the band’s trajectory as having been taken in baby steps, the bountiful opportunities that have come their way thus far have not been lost on him, or anyone else in the group.

“We are all so very humbled to be doing this. At the outset of the band, playing outside Iqaluit was our goal, and then once we achieved that it became, ‘let’s play Yukon, let’s play the Northwest Territories,’ and it just grew from there. We’ve played Toronto, and Halifax, and Ottawa, never mind all the places around the world we’ve been. The fact we’ve gotten to do it while singing in Inuktitut is even more remarkable.”

What: The Jerry Cans
When: Thursday Nov. 23, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Capitol Theatre, 811 Main St., Moncton
Tickets are $31 for members, $34 for others. Advance tickets are available at the Capitol Theatre Box Office, by phone (506) 856-4379, and online www.capitol.nb.ca