Dust Poets
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Dust Poets


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Brandon, Man. folk-rock quintet Dust Poets - for reasons that remain obscure they had to dump their former moniker, das macht Show!, on which they had built a substantial reputation as live performers and recording artists - start out a new with a collection of lively, funny, wise and sentimental songs that approach the rambunctious spirit and pop harmony style of such 1960s jug- and blues-based folk acts as New York's The Lovin' Spoonful and Toronto's The Dirty Shames.
Inventive instrumentalists able to effectively combine electric and acoustic instruments, and ingenious songwriters and arrangers, Dust Poets have a little masterpiece on their hands. "Dance With Ourselves," "Borrowing Faith," "Hillbilly Love" and the title track provide abundant evidence.
by Greg Quill, June 1 2006
- Toronto Star

With two previous albums under their collective belts as das macht Show, the newly monikered Dust Poets, armed with a strong collection of material by Murray Evans have, in Lovesick Town, delivered an album that traverses a number of styles - country, folk, bluegrass, jazz & even music hall, but with a cohesion and vision that shows they are comfortable in themselves, not struggling to find a 'sound' as albums like this often can.

The twin attack lead vocals of Evans and Karla Ferguson add to the variety and throughout the tight, focused harmony give a pop gloss to the songs. 'I Married a Magician' is an hilarious rag- time that best showcases the strength of the writing on offer here.

Dust Poets have, contrary to their name, shown themselves to be fine purveyors of polished country- folk- pop.
by Pete Gow, April 22 2006
- Americana UK

"I'm so sick of this town / But I really love this town", sings Dust Poets' Murray D. Evans over an irresistibly jaunty shuffle beat on the title track to Lovesick Town. If you can appreciate the simple brilliance of that sentiment, you'll probably enjoy the small-town charms of the album. The smart lyrics are complemented by a warm combination of country, folk, jazz, and circus music: Think a less strange latter-day Tom Waits, or a more strange Fairground Attraction. ...
The combination of craft and palpable honesty makes Lovesick Town one of the year's best surprises.
by John Bergstrom, September 6 2006 - Pop Matters

Like the circus performer in the band's song, "I Married a Magician," you never know what the Dust Poets are going to pull out of their musical hats. One minute, the Canadian band is performing the radio-friendly "Walk Away," a catchy rant against suburbia's big box stores and manicured lawns. The next, singer Karla Ferguson is pulling your heartstrings and channeling Patsy Cline with the lovely "Lonesome".
And then the group is blasting a ragtime tune about the home life of a magician and his wife. "He had a house of cards hidden up his sleeve/ Two hearts on the wall and a color TV," Ferguson sings, practically scatting the words, as the band jingles and jangles behind her. "He was pulling rabbits from behind my ear / And in the blink of an eye, a prenuptial appeared."
The band's third album, "Lovesick Town," explores small-town life in the Canadian prairie. (Incidentally, "I Married a Magician" is based upon a real performer and his wife they know in Canada.) Unlike bands that are comfortable sitting in the pocket of one musical style, "we've got our theme, we've got our basic sound and then we jump around genres," said Corey Ticknor, the band's mandolin player and backup vocalist.
The band formed six years ago in the province of Manitoba, "known for the ferocity of the winters more than anything else," Ticknor said. Originally started by Murray D. Evans, who plays guitar and harmonica and is the band's lead singer, and Ferguson, a singer and accordionist, the band has expanded to include Ticknor, percussionist and clarinet player Sean McManus and bass player Gord Mowat.
Evans is also the group's songwriter. "He's got a weird, twisted sense of reality," Ticknor said. Three of the bandmates were music majors at Brandon University in Manitoba. With their different backgrounds and skills, Ticknor said, "It's hard to keep us buttoned up."
The Dust Poets continue a recent tradition of hip, intelligent and humorous Canadian bands, along with fellow countrymen Barenaked Ladies and the sadly defunct Moxy Fruvous. "It's something in the water - makes people cynical," Ticknor joked. The bandmates now live in three separate provinces, but they've been touring together off and on since the release of "Lovesick Town" in February. They've logged an estimated 30,000 kilometers during the past six months together, tossing Frisbees at every stop.
"We haven't hit any moose, which is good," Ticknor said, speaking on the phone from the safety of his home in the New Brunswick province. They've only begun touring the States this past year. "We find that Americans are a little more gregarious," Ticknor said when asked about the differences between audiences in the two countries. Americans don't hesitate to come to the stage and heap praise on the band. That doesn't happen in Canada, he added. "It's a cold country. People are more hesitant to tell you they love you."
by Bill D'Agostino, Nov 23 2006 - Frederick News-Post (Frederick MD)

2006-2007 Performing Arts Series Makes a Strong Start
Although Harper Havoc seemed to be on the minds of most students last Friday night, those who attended the opening show for the 2006-2007 Performing Arts Series knew that they had made a wise choice. Hailing from Manitoba, Dust Poets brought their brand of fun, country folk-pop to Convocation Hall for an energetic and impressive evening.
Dust Poets consists of five superbly talented individuals who, when put together, make up a sound that is unique, fun and at many times very heartfelt. The group started six years ago, although this was their first time performing in the Maritime region.
The genius in their performance was their ability to flip into so many varied moods of music while keeping their core sounds of a folk-pop group intact. The group opened with the upbeat song “Gone, Gone, Gone,” but was quick to move into more sentimental and thought-provoking pieces like “Borrowing Faith,” which looked at the controversial sides of the way religion is being used in our world.
Throughout the evening, lead singer and guitarist Murray D. Evans was pushing out some amazing melodies. His voice has a pure tone with a slight prairie twang that is very likeable. At the same time, most of the songs allowed for each musician to show his or her skills and there wasn’t one disappointing moment. Karla Ferguson’s accordion consistently added a neat dynamic to the sound while Corey Ticknor’s mandolin solos were complex and impressive. Gord Mowat kept the groove going the entire night on the upright bass and his one solo in the second half was a delight. Lastly, Sean McManus on the clarinet added so much to each song through his perfect arrangements and solos. On top of this, the group had vocal harmonies for virtually every song that added an interesting and impressive element to each piece.
The nice thing about Dust Poets is that they came to entertain and share with the audience. They told many hilarious anecdotes that demonstrated the great chemistry among the group.
Dust Poets have so many elements to get attached to. With their upbeat and quirky lyrics, certain songs give off a Barenaked Ladies vibe. At the same time, their ballads are able to stand out on their own level. In fact, their song “Lonesome,” an emotional and simple ballad, was the best song of the entire evening.
The audience’s response was extremely positive throughout the night, so much as to merit an encore. In the lobby afterwards, many purchased their CDs and met with the band to have them autographed.
by Landon Braverman, Sept 21 2006 - The Argosy (Sackville NB)

With lush harmonies, plenty of interesting layers and melodies that make you feel right at home, the Dust Poets - formerly known as das macht Show! - have produced one fabulous new disc. Lovesick Town is the Brandon-formed band's third studio effort and is a collection of 11 songs that address issues related to the places where we live and the anxiety of being in a small town/big city - whichever applies.
A master songwriter, Murray D. Evans has flexed his impressive creative muscle once again, successfully blending loads of stylistic elements - a little country slide guitar, a jazzy upright bass line, some folky accordion and harmonica and catchy pop hooks. Instead of sounding Like a dog's breakfast, this album convincingly flows from one song to the next. It is the musicians' sense of humour, their individual performance styles and their collective sound which make this album work ... Fortunately, absent is the over-produced slickness plaguing the majority of current recordings. In its stead is a fluid transparency, a clarity that can be easily translated to the stage.
by Joanne E Villeneuve - March 12 2006
- Brandon Sun

...The primary theme of the new disc is the stifling alienation of modern living. Songs such as Walk Away, Good Enough for Me, Elevator Music, Hillbilly Love and the title cut all seem to condemn the lack of humanity in economic 'progress.' From the big-box stores mentioned in Walk Away to the phenomenon of hotel-room showcase gigs Evans describes (and wryly decries) in Elevator Music, Lovesick Town is full of images of disconnection and disassociation.
Produced by Lloyd Peterson, the record is a richly textured affair that allows each Poet to shine. Gord Mowat's rich standup bass sounds the heartbeat of each tune, while the mandolin, trombone and trumpet of Corey Ticknor add many rich tones. Similarly, the clarinet and saxophone of Sean McManus loan the recording a jazzy, almost klezmer-ish feel in places. Karla Ferguson's ethereal voice gives Dust Poets two distinct vocal identities, as she sings lead on several of the new tunes. On Lonesome, she channels Patsy Cline in perfect synch with Evans' rewrite of Crazy.
by John Kendle - March 9 2006 - Uptown Magazine (Winnipeg MB)

PORT HARDY - The Dust Poets may have been paying tribute to their prairie origins when they took the name for their band, but there was no dust on this well-polished quintet as they performed Saturday at Port Hardy Civic Centre. Blending a unique combination of instruments with the even more eclectic lyrics of singer-songwriter Murray Evans, the Dust Poets regaled the audience with songs that borrowed from country, pop, jazz, blues and even Mexican music as part of the North Island Concert Society's season series. The group, formed around veteran Manitoba folk-rocker Evans in 2001, includes Karla Ferguson on accordion, Corey Ticknor on mandolin, Gord Mowatt on double bass and Sean McManus on both clarinet and one of the world's smallest drum kits.

The show began pleasantly enough, with the group playing and the crowd politely applauding a pair of country-tinged folkies from the Poets' 2006 release Lovesick Town - Good Enough for Me and the title track. But when McManus closed out third number, the Spanish-influenced Mariachi Song, with a blistering clarinet solo, the first whoops came from the audience and the connection between stage and floor was locked in for the night. With Mowatt and Evans providing rhythm on bass and acoustic guitar, Ferguson, Ticknor and McManus carried most of the solos and melodies while making effective use of the combination of accordion, mandolin and clarinet. Evans, McManus and Ferguson each took vocal solos - Ferguson giving a yearning, torch treatment to Lonesome - but the group often sang in clean, four-part harmonies.

Band members took turns introducing numbers with brief background stories. And while Evans claimed the group's sound and words are both informed by its prairie roots, he ranged far afield lyrically to target all manner of human behaviour in words often humourous, occasionally pithy, and nearly always upbeat. In Borrowing Faith, Evans took on extremists who use religion for evil instead of good, with the line, "Don't give him a name, don't give him a face, don't give him love he's gotta blow up someplace."

Evans also took on the contrast between urban wealth and poverty in It's a Big World, one of several new songs the group plans to begin recording next month for a CD they hope to release this fall. He skewered consumer culture in both Money, from the Poets' debut CD one night in Berlin, and in the vigorous country-rocker Walk Away, about the proliferation of big-box stores. He took on computers in Skeletons in your Inbox, and motivational seminars in another Mexican-fused number, Hotel Paradiso. McManus, who rested his chops periodically with percussion stints on a kit made up of only a snare drum, high-hat and single cymbal, sang the Woody Guthrie/Billy Bragg folkie Way Down Yonder in a Minor Key, and the group played an upbeat cover of Elvis Costello's Veronica.

But the music always drifted back to Evans, who reached back to his solo touring days and strapped on a neck brace harmonica for the encore number, 4 More Meals, a heartfelt ballad about life in motel rooms with the line, "There's a picture of my face in the mirror as I'm washing my mind out with soap."

This was another solid choice by the North Island Concert Society, which will close out its 2007-08 season.

J.R. Rardon - April 3 2008 - North Island Gazette (Port Hardy BC)

EDMONTON - Corey Ticknor is in the heart of Nashville. The Dust Poets’ mandolin player is on the main drag. It’s the middle of the afternoon in the middle of the week, and all around him is music. Tonight, the band is playing a show, but today the members are doing what travellers do, taking in the town.

“It’s honky tonk after honky tonk, all the way down the street. Every bar has live music, and where there’s no bar, people are busking on the street and in doorways,” he marvels. “The only places that don’t have live music right now are the cowboy boot shop, the guitar store and the great big hockey stadium at the end of the strip.”
The Poets officially hail from Brandon, Manitoba, but the band seems to be constantly moving. Not too long ago, three of the members were in Toronto, one was in New Brunswick, and only songwriter Murray D Evans was holding the fort in the Prairies. Now, Ticknor is in Phoenix, accordionist Karla Ferguson and clarinetist Sean McManus are back in Manitoba and upright bassist Gord Mowat remains in Toronto.

“Murray goes away every winter. He just got back from India and he has a whole crop of new tunes,” Ticknor shares.

The band is defined as much by its partings as meetings, and a shared wanderlust contributes to its prairie-rooted/global-touched sound. Its baseline aural identity is a kind of countrified folk, but the musicians are musical polyglots that dip into other cultures and genres at will, enabled by solid musicianship.

“There’s not a single sound we’re slotted into,” Ticknor explains. “We’re known for playing a bunch of different styles. Our approach is basically, ‘What does this song need to be?’ And then we make it say what it needs to, whether that’s ‘20s swing, straight country or a slow waltz. There’s a nebulous group aesthetic - acoustic small band music. Our instruments are unusual, and we also have vocals on our side - you can do a lot with four-part vocals, lots of harmonies. So I guess we’re a country-western
pseudo-klezmer band.”

Evans’s lyrics drive many of the group’s choices. The songwriter is known for his oddball wordplay, offbeat narratives and wry humour. Any opportunity the band has to underscore irony or heighten the mood - say, a plaintive clarinet echo or particular randy rhythm - is in if it propels the storytelling along.

“We’re from a weird, small town in the Prairies, so there’s inspiration in that,” Ticknor laughs. “When we were almost done the last album, we realized that it had a ‘small town loser’ theme happening. We weren’t conscious of a theme at the time.”

That record - 2006’s Lovesick Town, the Poet’s third - was the band’s most realized. The first two relied on their considerable live energy, while Lovesick Town feels like a Jim Jarmusch movie, a kind of quirky cabaret in a songbook. It’s not simply about small town losers - although those are present - but about small town dreams, fragile hopes and delusions people maintain when they’re in an isolated but overly familiar place, with few opportunities for reinvention. Many of the songs have a touching tragicomic edge, including a bare antiwar tune called “Borrowing Faith.”

“People either love it or hate it,” Ticknor shrugs. ”It’s from a perspective that’s anti-religious in general, so it’s equal opportunity, so no one is safe with that one. It shocks people a little in the Bible Belt ... sometimes we get icy polite applause, but never violence. Most places we have a folky crowd, and they usually hoot and holler.”

Ticknor acknowledges that they may get away with their pointed humour in the American South because they’re from elsewhere. “I think the humour may be seen as a Canadian thing. People are appreciative of it. It’s not that they’re not used to humour in their songs, but Americans are usually more direct, and our stuff is more twisty and subtle. And that’s cool - we’re happy to be known that way.”
Mary Christa O'Keefe - March 6 2008 - Vue Weekly

The long and winding road travelled by The Dust Poets is becoming more interesting as the Manitoba-based quintet steers its way through its seventh year of touring and recording together. Led by singer-songwriter Murray D. Evans, the Poets have not done things in a conventional manner, but are being noticed by the roots music community around North America. They combine elements of swing, bluegrass, jugband and eastern European sounds with, from time to time, pure pop melodies and a liberal dose of humour.

Although the group is in the midst of two back-to-back western Canadian swings, this one landing at Horizon Stage in Spruce Grove on Saturday night, the Poets have also been beating the bushes south of the border of late. Evans, Karla Ferguson, Sean McManus, Gord Mowat and Corey Ticknor delivered the goods at recent shows in Memphis and Nashville, where they played a headline gig at Vanderbilt University as "part of a global music series." "We've also focused on playing presenter gigs and showcases and that has landed us a residency in Louisiana in the spring of 2009. We'll be playing everything from churches to concert venues to workshops for a group ofart councils who like what we are doing. The buzz is good," says Evans, who with his bandmates really hit the mark in the studio two years ago for the sessions that led to the Lovesick Town recording.

As a writer, Evans considers Dylan, Neil Young, Elvis Costello and Tom Waits among his influences. Putting faces to characters in songs like Married A Magician and Hillbilly Love is an easy exercise. Then there are those that lurk in the shadows or blend into the images that dot Lovesick Town and Lonesome.

"Travelling has provided inspiration for writing new songs. You meet so many weird and wonderful people, America is full of characters," says Evans, who also feeds some of his material to the accordion-playing Karla Ferguson. "It broadens the spectrum having a female voice and it works so much better on a song like Married A Magician. Karla also tends to go for the ballads," added the tunesmith, who will explore two sets worth of material in the Horizon Stage concert.
Peter North - March 07, 2008 - Edmonton Journal


Full Length CD: Lovesick Town, 2006
Full Length CD: Four Legs Good, 2003
Full Length CD: One night in Berlin, 2001

Compilation CD: Manitoba Roots v.4, 2006
Compilation CD: Head In The Sands Records, 2004
Compilation CD: Made In Manitoba, 2004
Compilation CD: Manitoba Roots v.3, 2003



A youtube video is worth a thousand words...

The Dust Poets are a five-piece acoustic folk-pop group with roots deep in the Canadian prairie. The band pokes affectionate fun at themselves and the world around them while spreading their own irreverent brand of small town angst. The Dust Poets have performed extensively across Canada and in the United States, and are well known for their infectious spirit, powerful stage presence, genre-bending originals, and juicy harmony singing. Their 2006 CD, Lovesick Town, was proclaimed a "little masterpiece" by the Toronto Star. The band is currently putting the finishing touches on a brand new record which is due for release in early 2009.

The Dust Poets perform the original music of veteran singer/songwriter Murray D. Evans, whose wry writer's eye explores themes of home-town losers, travel in foreign lands, and the absurdity of war. Ranging in tone from the darkly humourous to the achingly tender, Evans finds a fertile muse in the joys and disappointments of modern living.

The musically restless Dust Poets create arrangements that wander easily among different styles, including folk, bluegrass, swing, pop, and circus freak ragtime. The band's all-acoustic line-up features guitar, upright bass, accordion, mandolin, clarinet, and percussion, plus extraordinary four part vocal harmonies.

Since forming in Brandon, Manitoba back in 2001, they have released three albums and toured throughout Canada and parts of the United States. Their first record, “One Night in Berlin", earned a nomination for Outstanding Roots Recording for the 2002 Prairie Music Awards. Their second professionally recorded release, entitled "Four Legs Good," was released in 2003 and contains all the edgy excitement of their live show. In 2006 the band released, "Lovesick Town” which finds songwriter Evans reveling in the quirky caricatures of small town life and showcases the band’s versatility with an infusion of horns, drums and electric guitars.

The group is currently working on a fourth album of original material that is due for release in early 2009.

The Dust Poets continue to earn fans and attract international attention with great music, a great sense of humour, and great performances, every time they take the stage.