Peninsula-based band Tiller’s Folly

Peninsula-based band Tiller’s Folly

Ticket to ride

Tiller’s Folly launching tour in Nashville

The passport is the human voice –  plus a fiddle, a mandolin, a guitar and a bass.

In the ever-evolving world of the music industry, and the ongoing struggle to survive the lingering effects of recession – not to mention getting lost in what bassist Laurence Knight of Tiller’s Folly calls “the I-Pod Shuffle” – North America’s most seasoned musicians are breaking down borders both literally and figuratively.

Forget long-established labels, or the gimmick-du-jour of Top 40 production. Many are finding the best calling card is a song of enduring value and a time-honoured instrumentation that, while borrowing from many acoustic traditions and genre identifications (including folk, country, bluegrass, new grass, and Celtic) is capable of transcending all of them.

Latest group in this ongoing, intuitive evolution is Tiller’s Folly itself, which heads across the border next week to launch a media and showcase tour of Nashville, Tenn. and beyond.

The Surrey and White Rock-based group, which has paid 13 years of dues in thousands of performances both across Canada and abroad – and seven well-regarded albums  – has just been signed to Georgia-based management company Leadership Artists.

That puts them in the same stable as acoustic super group Mountain Heart and legendary vocalist/bassist John Cowan, under the watchful eye of Leadership’s president, powerhouse promoter Brian Smith.

And the effect can be seen in the band’s upcoming blitz of the musical capital, which will include appearances on two live showcases, the legendary Billy Block Show and Music City Roots, as well as additional television and radio appearances, a private function for music industry leaders, and a full concert at The Rooster’s Wife in Aberdeen, N.C.

“It’s very exciting,” Knight said.

“This trip is the big one. We’re like the girl being introduced at the ball to all of the suitors – it’s a whole new culture.”

The timing of the trip coincides with the latter stages of recording the group’s latest album Go The Road, in which Knight, Bruce Coughlan (principal writer, artistic leader, lead vocalist and guitarist) and Nolan Murray (vocalist, fiddler, mandolinist) will be joined by such top guest talents as Cowan, Josh Shilling (Mountain Heart), vocalist Cia Cherryholme, Scottish Music Hall of Fame accordionist Phil Cunningham, guitarist Jeff Autry and banjo great Scott Vestal.

The new album, recorded with the band’s favourite producer, Joby Baker of Baker Studios in Victoria,  also finds Tiller’s Folly at the top of its game, Knight said.

“This record is a culmination. Bruce has written 12 new songs and he’s at the peak of his career as a songwriter, emotionally, melodically and lyrically – these are just timeless, classic songs.

“This is really going to open the door for Bruce as a songwriter – already there’s a lineup of major songwriters who want to work with him

“And Nolan is just such an adept musician on so many instruments.”

Knight, too, acknowledges that the album has stretched his abilities, shifting from electric to acoustic bass.

“I play the whole thing on upright bass, which is the first time I’ve done that,” he said.

The group is taking additional heart from the backing of Smith and Leadership Artists, Knight confirmed.

“It’s so nice to have somebody on board helping to promote our cause who has all these connections.” he said.

“Brian’s been involved in music at the very highest level for many years. He came out of retail as a vice president of a chain of music stores which gave him a very strong understanding of the industry.

“He could see the end of the road for the music stores, but he knew the one thing that would never end was the music itself, even if the ways of selling it would change.”

The way that the Leadership connection came about was logical and organic, according to Knight –  driven as it was by Cowan.

Much of Cowan’s fame rests on his years as a core member of seminal band New Grass Revival, which pioneered a fusion of bluegrass with rock and R&B harmonies in the 1970s and ’80s.

“We’ve always been huge fans of his playing and he came up and helped us on River So Wide and Nolan’s solo album,” Knight said.

While Cowan had his own band and had just signed with Leadership, he was unable to turn down an offer to tour with The Doobie Brothers, with whom he’d played before – which left an opening in Leadership’s talent roster, Knight said.

“John is a big fan of the band and Bruce’s singing and songwriting and he kept on pushing Brian, saying ‘you should take a look at these guys’.

Discussion went on for about a year, but the deal was finally clinched when the band flew Smith to one of their concerts in Oregon, Knight said.

While Knight admits the historic thread of Celtic Canadiana that Tiller’s Folly has been known for has been, to some extent, subsumed by the emotional direction of River So Wide and Go The Road, Knight said it is always going to be part of the group’s identity and repertoire.

“I think what Brian’s figured is our music would be a refreshing breath of fresh air,” he added.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In 2017, a member of the Disneyana Fan Club curated a small Community Treasures exhibit at the Museum of Surrey about the early days of Disney and the cartoonist Walt Disney. The museum is now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibition. (Photo: Submitted)
Museum of Surrey wants to spotlight local organizations and clubs

Museum now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibit

The cover of Golf 101 with Bob Dimpleton (left), an instructional book created by South Surrey golf pro Mark Kuhn (inset). Right, a page from the book detailing what to do if your ball lands on the cart path. (Contributed images)
South Surrey golf pro releases new edition of popular instructional book

Mark Kuhn’s Dimpleton family returns in updated Golf 101 e-book

Musician Dana Vande is seen in a screenshot from a music video on Youtube. Vande recently released a pro-lockdown track in response to an Eric Clapton and Van Morrison anti-lockdown track.
Cloverdale musician writes pandemic response song to Van Morrison and Eric Clapton

Dana Vande answers a Clapton-Morrison anti-lockdown track with a pro-lockdown track

Surrey RCMP Constable Mike Della-Paolera as seen in a cut-out used for the detachment’s Operation Double Take program. (File photo)
Surrey’s tall ‘Operation Double Take’ cop is on the move

Cut-out of Constable Mike Della-Paolera used in program to curb speeding and dangerous driving

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Delta Police dog retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Most Read