Published Aug 20, 2008Two years since their last offering (Migrations), which won the Best Contemporary Album at the 2007 Canadian Folk Music Awards, the Duhks continue to fiddle about, returning with a new line-up and another genre-bending record. Mixing bluegrass, folk and Celtic influences with Afro-Cuban, jazz and soul rhythms, these dozen cuts show this Grammy-nominated band continuing to push musical boundaries. Founder Leonard Podolak (banjo) remains at the helm, along with Jordan McConnell and Tania Elizabeth. Before this record was made, however, two Duhks departed, including main vocalist Jessee Havey; musical siblings Sarah Dugas and her brother Christian (drums) joined. Sarah wrote five of the 12 songs, including the politically charged title cut. This talented songwriter pushes the Duhks to new musical realms. Its hard to believe thats possible since these Winnipeg musicians have always been known for their eclectic sounds, but Dugas brings Afro-Cuban influences and a new voice to the band. The record opens with a spirited take on "Mighty Storm, a traditional song about a 1900 hurricane that destroyed Galveston, TX. In the Duhks deft hands this traditional song is given a gospel groove and Dugass powerful voice guides this soulful ship to shore. Throw in a few stirring instrumentals and youve got another winner.
Tell me about how you came to work with producer Jay Joyce?
Podolak: Our former producer, Gary Paczosa, who has become our A&R guy, wanted us to take a few risks and work with someone who might be able to help us cross over a bit more to a bigger audience. We pulled that off when we found Jay Joyce.
The title track sounds like one of these songs where you stretched your muse.
"Fast Paced World is a really exciting one. We were experimenting with new sounds, rhythms and concepts. Afrobeat is a new thing in my life and is a classic example of what these two new band members bring a whole mess load of musical genres that Jordan, Tania and I dont have.
Tell me about the Duhks Sustainability project (www.greenduhks.com)?
We asked ourselves, "What can we do to be a more sustainable band? We have a van that is bio diesel and we are getting sponsorships. Its also a platform for other people already doing a lot of work to have another outlet to spread their message. When we tour this album we are going to get in touch with a lot of local organizations and invite them out. (Sugar Hill)