Bruce Peninsula "Lift Em' Up, Jack Can I Ride?"

Bruce Peninsula "Lift Em' Up, Jack Can I Ride?"
There’s a chance you’ve vacationed in the Bruce Peninsula. It’s a beautiful spot in Ontario located between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron in the Niagara Escarpment that offers untouched natural habitat, a biosphere reserve and two national parks. Oh, and Sauble Beach, where young people go with kegs in tow to get blitzed and water-ski.

A group of Toronto musicians are looking to cause a wave of confusion the next time you hear, "Are you going to Bruce Peninsula?” There are 12 of them, actually, almost enough to start their own tourism board, but I have a feeling they’ll be too busy fighting off the disciples that will quickly be flocking to join their congregation.

Formed in 2006 by Misha Bower and Matt Cully, the Bruce (I’m gonna call them) took their inspiration from American folklorist and musicologist Alan Lomax’s extensive archive, the project quickly ballooned, adding members from a number of different Toronto bands (including Germans, ohbijou, Katie Stelmanis, the Lake Vernon Drowning) to melding an array of sounds mostly borrowed from the music of 100 years past. While folk is likely the best word to nutshell them with, the Bruce are equally a gospel choir in the body of indie kids who’ve been struck down with the blues.

While they certainly follow traditional songbook, the collective certainly add their own finesse to their songs of choice. Set for release as a seven-inch in July on member Neil Haverty’s Escape Goat label, "Lift Em’ Up Jack, Can I Ride?” is their take on late Texas preacher Washington Phillips’ "Lift Him Up That’s All.” Removing the stripped down carousel-spun flourish of the great troubadour, the Bruce channel his spirit into a righteous meld of thumping beats, rickety percussion, blues guitar passages and a feverishly climactic call and response that summons the sweat glands to purge.

The Bruce Peninsula’s debut full-length, A Mountain Is A Mouth, is in the can, and awaiting release some time in the fall. A release party for the Lift Em’ Up Jack, Can I Ride?/Rosie is set for July 20 at the St. Andrew-By-the-Lake Church on Toronto Island, and the band will head out on the road this summer with the Got To Get Got.