What happens if you love the stories behind music so much you can't stick to one genre? The Paperboys happen.
Drawing on a range of vernacular pattern more vast and textured than the Canadian Rockies, the long-time, Vancouver-based band is known for blowing fans' hair back with their brew of Celtic folk, bluegrass, Mexican, Eastern European, African, zydeco, soul and country sounds. While that may sound too heavy on the cultural crossover, founder and lead guitarist/singer Tom Landa - of Mexican origin himself - is a maestro when it comes to teasing out similarities in the variances to find harmony.
"A lot of those different cultures share patterns, there are rhythms that are shared," he says.
"For example, Latin and African and Celtic music all share some of the same rhythms, one that I really like to talk about and use is three-four in six-eighth time signatures, which are very big in Cuban music and African and Mexican music, which is also the same thing as a Celtic jig, for example, so they marry very well."
Landa has seen a number of band members come and go over the 18 years The Paperboys have been in action. No matter who is on deck the various instruments that complete the band's sound always manage to transform a song from a simple thing to a work of art.
Landa, the main songwriter, credits his bandmates for keeping an open mind when they're collectively working on a song.
"Everyone's input is always welcome and we use everyone's input and nobody is ever really married to an idea where 'it has to be this way or else,'" he says. "Sometimes I design a song a certain way from the get-go and sometimes I bring it in as a bit of an idea and just let it happen because of the influence of the people around me. Geoffrey (Kelly -flute, whistles, bass, percussion) will add something with the flute that is lilting and Irish sounding or Brad (Gillard - banjo and bass) can add something with the banjo that makes it into more of a bluegrass thing, or we'll all approach it in a way that's more Ska."
The Paperboys are rounded out by Sam Esecson on drums and percussion; Kalissa Hernandez on fiddle; Nick La Riviere on trombone and bass; Kareem Kandi on saxophone; Miguelito Valdes on trumpet, congas and percussion; and Greg Lyons on trumpet.
While the band has toured extensively through Europe, where Landa says the people of each country respond differently to various aspects of their sound, it's small shows like the upcoming one at the Brackendale Art Gallery (BAG) that remind him of the sense of community that gets lost in the shuffle of big city life.
"The big difference is community, which isn't really achieved when you play bigger places or bigger cities," he says, crediting BAG owners Thor and Dorte Froslev for their ability to bring bands and fans to their venue.
"It really feels like a community dance or community get-together. People don't care how they're dressed or how they dance, parents bring their kids - you just don't get that anywhere else."
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