by Scott Roos
pics by Deanna Roos of Contingent Colours Photography
This past Friday, May 13th, Saskatoon’s The Local Group treated an enthusiastic, sold out audience at The Station Arts Centre in Rosthern to a pair of trio sets that included an eclectic mix of folk, bluegrass, Celtic, east coast and bluegrass tunes. The quaint, cozy setting of The Station served as the ideal venue for the guys who sometimes refer to themselves as a “bluegrass boy band”. They were confident and comfortable in the small venue setting trading off on lead vocal duties and also at times exchanging instruments. The variety made them a very entertaining watch and listen.
“(Playing in smaller venue) is basically our default. We're dirty folkers at the heart of it all. We cut our teeth on doing house concerts and being an acoustic trio means we can fit in anywhere. This is kind of our norm almost rather than being on an actual stage,” remarked The Local Group’s guitarist Elliot Dillabough when referring to the smaller more relaxed setting of The Stations "Live and Local" performance area.
“I've never been to that spot in Rosthern before but it's gorgeous. What they have there: the facilities are fantastic. Their theatre, their artwork and just the space is super nice especially for us,” stand up bass player and sometimes fiddler Ethan Peters noted.
Due to it’s smaller size, the guys described it as a “listening” venue. They could experiment with quieter songs and feel the appreciation from the crowd without feeling like they had to be flashy to get their attention. The crowd was appropriately reverent of the music the guys were playing. Banjo player Jaxon Lalonde was impressed with the acoustics of the venue as well as the overall vibe.
"We could really hear each other very well which is nice. People were paying attention and it was a good responsive audience so that was a pretty good thing. We sounded good. The Centre is really nice," stated Lalonde.
At the end of the day, having another music venue in the area is a huge plus. It’s a versatile space. It’s a beautiful place. It’s an inspiring place. If you want the intimacy of a coffee house they can do that with their “Live and Local” stage. But they are also capable of hosting lower mid-level and mid-level artists via their theatre space. The venue itself is recently renovated and has only been reopened since mid-march but program director Nicole Thiessen has some big plans moving forward now that its proverbial feet are wet.
“I feel very encouraged because people from all over this area are coming and supporting us and every night everybody is so excited that they came and so excited to be connecting with other people in the area. That was our plan. Our role is to be a gathering place where people can come together with arts and culture events. That’s the key. The renovation and all of that stuff is a compliment to it. But the key is just having people getting together around these events and it’s just really really positive,” commented Thiessen.