The Wilderness of Manitoba Velveeta Room, Austin TX March 15

The Wilderness of Manitoba Velveeta Room, Austin TX March 15
Five-piece Toronto band the Wilderness of Manitoba quietly stepped on the small stage, the bassist barefoot, introducing themselves and going straight into their opening track, which was a mellow folky number with a noticeable post-rock influence. They followed this by a number that had more of a barroom groove, and by the third song, they were displaying more of an English folk rock style, à la Fairport Convention. With three of the band members harmonizing together, there were also similarities at times with Simon and Garkfunkel or Wye Oak, with a touch of another Toronto band, Great Lake Swimmers. Playing a selection of new material, the Wilderness of Manitoba were clearly well rehearsed, the songs played flawlessly. Some really nice banjo work and a great sense of rhythm -- the drummer was especially good -- was up front and centre, and the group employed a bunch of different instruments for texture, including a Chinese singing bowl for one track. With hundreds of folk revival bands out there, the Wilderness of Manitoba have a unique voice and something of definite value to add to that conversation.