The Stanfields back on the road

When Halifax rockers The Stanfields last spoke with the Times & Transcript this past September, the group was in the midst of getting set to undertake its first cross-country tour by van. And while the band’s shows were well received, its luck otherwise could not have been worse.

While in British Columbia, the group had the unlucky fortune of having its van’s motor give out, leaving the rest of their tour in temporary jeopardy while the band scrambled to figure out its next move. When a B.C. mechanic determined that the van would need a new motor, the band issued a plea to its fans to contribute money to the cost of getting a new motor to get them home to Nova Scotia in time for Music Nova Scotia Week.

Now it’s one thing to have dedicated fans but what we are about to relay is arguably one of the best feel-good stories of the past three years in the Canadian music scene. A mere three days after the band asked fans to dig deep into their pockets to help offset the imminent repair costs of almost $8,000, the group met its goal and was soon back home on the east coast.

Stanfields vocalist-guitarist Jon Landry is all too happy to recount the band’s bout of good and not-so-great luck last fall.

“Essentially, our van bit the dust when we were climbing one of the many mountains in the interior of British Columbia,” he says from the comfortable confines of his Halifax home.

Landry says the band’s tour with friends The Birthday Boys had been relatively good up to that point. The same cannot be said for The Birthday Boys however.

“We played four dates in the Maritimes together and they were great. We arrived in Montreal for our next show and had received a call from them that they had broken down in Riviere-du-Loup which ended up holding them up for a couple of days. Then one of their band members got incredibly sick and they ended up having to finish the tour as a trio.”

After The Stanfields encountered its own bad luck with the van out west, the group was left little choice but to send the remainder of the Stanfields home, with the exception of Landry, who completed the tour by himself.

“We started the tour with nine guys between us and The Birthday Boys and by the end of the tour, there were only four of us left,” Landry laughs.

Every dark cloud has a silver lining, as Landry and his band mates would soon discover.

“We were so incredibly lucky to have the support that we did,” Landry says, still sounding amazed at the outpouring of generosity. “Before the idea about having our fans help out was floated, we were truly at a loss on what we were going to do.”

When Landry arrived in Ontario with only two days left on the tour, he logged online to see how progress was moving on their initiative; the first time he had done so since being in British Columbia. Much to his amazement, the bandmates were only $1,000 dollars from reaching their goal.

“It was just such an overwhelming feeling to see what was going on. The story ended up being picked up by the CBC and was covered by virtually all media in Atlantic Canada.”

Much to his delight, it wasn’t just fans of The Stanfields pitching in to help. Friends of the band also stepped up to the plate to do their part.

“The guys in Great Big Sea ended up paying the balance of our towing bill while our pals (from Moncton) The Divorcees organized a fundraising show for us. It was just so incredible to have lived through. My bandmate Jason Rice said that if there was ever any doubt about whether we should be doing this or not, the people that pitched in to help us out in our time of need was as big of an indicator as selling 100,000 records would be.

“It was a very humbling experience to say the least.”

With four East Coast Music Award nominations in the group’s back pocket, and a sound best described as The Clash meets Steve Earle, it could be fairly safe to say that things are looking up in the world of The Stanfields.

“I really don’t expect us to be home much this coming year and that’s how I like it. The way I see it, we have to strike while the iron is hot,” Landry says.

“You only get one chance and so you have to make the best of it. I think it is a large factor in why we have been able to get ahead. Every one of us in the band has the same kind of mindset where we know that we are lucky to be doing this.

“We have worked hard to get to where we are at and to have things develop how they have been, we’ll sleep when we’re dead. There is business to take care of.”

Catch The Stanfields and their van’s new(ish) motor at The Manhattan Bar & Grill tonight.

Article published in February 18, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript