Go east, young band 

Fernie's Shred Kelly combines folk rock, mountain culture and a never-ending search for snow

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Shred Kelly Tim Newton, Sage McBride, Jordan Vlasschaert, Ian Page-Shiner and Ty West perform at the Garibaldi Lift Company on Friday, March 13.
  • Photo submitted
  • Shred Kelly Tim Newton, Sage McBride, Jordan Vlasschaert, Ian Page-Shiner and Ty West perform at the Garibaldi Lift Company on Friday, March 13.

Shred Kelly's Tim Newton says he had never seen so much snow — and he didn't mean powder on the snow-starved slopes of their ski hill in Fernie.

No. Shred Kelly was touring Eastern Canada and finding winter wasn't a problem for them.

"It was the coldest and the most snow we'd ever seen. The craziest was the East Coast," he says.

"We did four shows through New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. We were in between major snowstorms when we got there, so luckily the roads weren't too bad, but when we played Moncton and Fredericton, the snow banks were triple the size of the cars parked next to them."

The folk rockers were practically evacuated from the region after their Fredericton show, because a storm carrying 60 centimetres of snow was on its way.

Sounds wonderful.

"I know! It would be like Christmas. And the weather in Fernie is actually warm. It's crazy. The season has been all El Niño," Newton says.

"But there's enough base to get to the bottom, so that's good. There hasn't been any new snow in the while, but the upper mountain is still pretty good."

Sounds familiar.

Newton lived in Whistler a decade ago, getting a start at the Crystal Lounge's jam sessions run by local legend Kostaman. He was happy to hear the reggae performer was still making music.

"That's crazy, I was there in 2004 to 2006," Newton says.

Without snow and the Kootenay resort's mountain culture Shred Kelly wouldn't exist.

The band — along with Newton there is Sage McBride, Jordan Vlasschaert, Ian Page-Shiner and Ty West — got together thanks to an open mic night.

"I ran a jam night at one of the bars and I had just bought a banjo. I was testing out some newly written songs with our drummer and guitar player at the time. One day one of the guys from the bar down the street said they had a band coming through and needed an opener," Newton recalls.

The newly formed Shred Kelly had one week to prepare and ran with it.

"I was like, 'I need a bass player and maybe another vocal!' and that's when Sage and Jordan joined. That was it!" he says.

"That first night we had a full dance floor and that's where it all began."

That was five years ago, and since the band members didn't have "big careers" to distract them, Shred Kelly grew, performing at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

"It was such a great experience and we realized, 'Wow, this could be something else!'" Newton says. "Within six months of the Olympics we were recording our first album."

The album became a project that kept them focused — and kept them in Fernie.

"Sometimes I think people leave ski towns because they are overqualified places and people move to the town for the lifestyle, but end up working on the ski hill or delivering pizza," Newton says.

Three albums on, he says they have found a way to make it work and stay where they love.

"We all have very casual jobs when we come back to town. I'm a youth care worker," Newton says.

"But our employers know what our dreams are and support us."

Shred Kelly performs at the Garibali Lift Company on Friday, March 13 at 9:30 p.m.

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