The Gruff - Coastal Country
"...the three billy goats have become four young women who play folk music with the skill of old-timers."
-Penguin Eggs Magazine
Howdy, and welcome to Gruff country. Not your standard "country", this inspired and talented young band out of Victoria, BC challenges you to pin a label on their music. The band members, also song-writers, filter numerous folk traditions through the sieve of modern experience, to create a truly unique sound. From old-time to country, bluegrass to good old rock-and-roll, these women relay joy, sorrow, and everything in between, with astounding efficacy.
The Gruff bring a smile to every audience with their easy, comfortable stage presences, and their obvious delight in performance. Their extensive experience shines through songs of love, heartache, travel, and hard work, interspersed with traditional tunes picked up over their various journeys. Every song has a story behind it, and the audiences learn more about the band through charismatic and amusing stage banter. This group's chemistry is apparent and intreguing.
The fundamental essence of The Gruff was hatched in the atmospheric nest of Victoria's busking scene over five years ago. From those days of traditional Irish pub tunes, the young band - then called "Billy Goats Gruff"- evolved and grew together, creating a comfortable repor with each other, and their well-established West-Coast fan base. As they matured, creatively and instrumentally, they incorporated original songs with a country flavour into their repertoire. Received with enthusiasm by audiences, this original sound was nurtured and encouraged, to thus develop into the band today known as The Gruff.
Phaedra Kemp, one of the two main composers accompanies her edgy, country-folk vocals on the snare drum, and does her time on the melencholie harmonica as well. Jenny Ritter is the other songwriter, and hammers the guitar like John Henry himself while she sings. Holding down the fort is Terri Upton on the double bass - the instrument is nearly as big as she is, but she keeps it steady as a Ford Truck on a logging road while backing up on harmony vocals. Over the past year, these three have been joined by a number of hot fiddlers but these days Adam Iredale-Gray is usually playing up a storm with the Gruff gals. Their three-part harmonies are thick and sweet, and their prowess at their instruments is unusual in such a young group. They've engaged audiences from Victoria's renowned "Rootsfest" to the Ottawa Folk Festival, Hillside Festival in Guelph, and the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival in Nova Scotia.
The Gruff's 3d album (self titled) was released in October, 2006, and recorded at Marlborough Studios (produced by Adrian Dolan of The Bills). On the album they are joined by such high-profile Canadian guest musicians as Steve Dawson (Zubot and Dawson), Tania Elizabeth (The Duhks) and Old Man Luedecke.
This ambitious, yet unpretentious young band is predicted to go far and wide, by fellow musicians and audiences alike. They strive to be succesful in their endeavors, because, as is apparent to all, The Gruff dearly love what they do. And this is a recipe for success.