In June Canadian folk group The East Pointers brought their distinctive sound to the Exeter live music scene. We’re not total newcomers to Canadian Folk music. Whilst travelling in Canada we saw some great live music, including the amazing FrancoFolies de Montreal music festival. But it’s fair to say it’s a genre we don’t listen to often, and even less so live, so it was a gig we were really looking forward to.
The East Pointers
Hailing from Prince Edward Island on the eastern coast of Canada, The East Pointers are a three-piece folk group. The group have picked up a number of Canadian music awards and toured internationally. Between songs, the boys also talked about their families and growing up in Prince Edward Island. What shone through was the importance of folk music to them and their efforts to champion a genre that has declined in popularity.
Music and performance
The group opened with an energetic instrumental piece, playing the fiddle, banjo and guitar at a speed that seemed impossible. The combination of the uptempo sound, enthusiastic performance and catchy engaging melodies meant that the audience didn’t need much encouragement to get up on their feet and dance. As the show went on, more and more people joined in with the dancing. We even had a little jig ourselves, and it was hard not to be swept along with the spirit of the music and the great atmosphere.
An instrument that was new to us was the jaw-harp. It basically seemed to be a small metal mouthpiece that produced a sound a little like a didgeridoo. I was quite taken by it as an instrument, and for a moment imagined myself Exeter’s next jaw-harp maestro. However, when after the gig I read that there was a fairly high chance of chipping your teeth if not played correctly, I decided to leave jaw-harping to the experts.
Amongst the instrumental pieces were some fantastic vocal performances. These were on the whole slower tracks, with strong narratives, and heartfelt vocals. On all songs, the lead singer was perfectly complemented by the instrumentals and although the sound was quite different from the purely instrumental pieces, each was just as engaging. We really loved 82 Fires, Two Weeks and John Wallace.
Lyrics and songwriting
We really loved the narrative style of the group’s vocal performances. A number of their songs were about the experiences of living remotely and rurally. 82 Fires told of their experiences touring in Australia when bushfires raged in the country. Two Weeks is about the lives of Canadian frontier workers, travelling long distances to work two weeks at a time in the oilfields. It was really refreshing to hear these kinds of stories being told and we found we really related to them. This may have been because we’d visited remote parts of Canada and Australia ourselves whilst travelling and recognised the kinds of communities they were writing about. But there were also parallels with the rural communities of the south-west that we know and love. It made for a really refreshing change from the more mainstream love songs that dominate modern music.
Exeter live music
For us The East Pointers was a real highlight in our gig calendar for the year and if you get the chance to see them live we’d really recommend it. It was clear everyone at the gig loved it – the packed floor full of dancers and the energy of the group was a testimony to this. We hope they’ll come back to Exeter soon!
The East Pointers tour dates