House of Doc
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House of Doc


Band Folk Americana


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"'Prairiegrass' review"

"...From the gentle strains of the haunting 'Gravestones in Namaka' through the zippy banjo licks of the good-riddance ditty 'I Was Lonely' to the stirring a cappella gospel 'Wait in Line', this is a strinking and unfailingly beautiful work."

- Darryl Sterdan/Winnipeg Sun

"Album Review"

House Of Doc are what happens when the high and lonesome sounds of mountain music meet the wheat field flavours produced by living on the Manitoba prairies...

...The disc opens with the hypnotic and sombre "Gravestones In Namaka," followed by the rambling, newgrass "House Of Dusty Ground," showcasing the band's four-part harmonies. The group truly shines though, on the gorgeous gospel a cappella number "Wait In Line."

Fusing Celtic sounds with bluegrass, blues and traditional country, House Of Doc are one of those rare bands that innovate rather than recreate.

David McPherson
- Chart Attack

"House of Doc / East of West"


East of West (Pacific Music)

A Mennonite sorta family band from Manitoba, these guys are very good. The harmonies and musicianship are screw tight, the songwriting solid. The a capella “Simple Time” is a treat as is their cover of the Stampeders’ “Sweet City Woman.”

- John P. McLaughlin - Vancouver Province

"All in the Family"

House of Doc clan celebrates release of third album

Jen Zoratti

House of Doc is one big happy family - literally.

The Winnipeg folk/roots outfit is comprised of Dan Wiebe, his sister Rebecca Harder, and her husband Matthew Harder. Jesse Krause is the newest member to the fold, replacing David Wiebe (also brother to Dan and Rebecca) who left the group in 2005.

You'd think having this much family - blood or otherwise - in a creative setting could lead to drama. But, according to multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Matthew Harder, families and bands aren't so different from each other.

"The reality is, bands behave like family eventually," Harder says.

"It makes staying together as a band more of a guarantee," he continues. "Our commitment to the band is stronger because of our commitment to each other."

So far, so good. House of Doc released its third full-length record, East of West, earlier this month. Serving as the follow-up to 2005's Prairiegrass, the new album sees the band maximizing its musical palette, perfecting a blend of bluegrass, Americana, folk and gospel - all tightly bound by the quartet's trademark harmonies.

East of West also sees the band drawing its lyrical inspiration from a happier place.

"I think that Prairiegrass turned into an awful lot of funeral dirges," Harder says. "We had a lot of things going on. It all took on a very sombre tone. We wanted this one to have more of a toe-tap feel, and, as much as a folk record can be, make it a bit more pop."

From the a cappella Simple Times to the full-orchestra epic Summerstone to the spirited cover of The Stampeders' Sweet City Woman, East of West is anything but a downer - and the band's recording digs, The Tragically Hip's Bathouse Studios in Bath, Ont., no doubt added to the album's decidedly up-beat feel.

"To call it a studio is an overstatement. It's really a ramblin' old shack," Harder laughs. "It's all about the vibe there."

The 'studio' may have had raccoons living in the ceiling, but it was also home to a veritable musical playground for a band cutting a record.

"They've got a great batch of equipment," Harder says. "And, you get to feel awesome because you're using The Hip's gear."

- Uptown Magazine

"What's On Winnipeg"

HOUSE OF DOC -- East of West (Pacific Music/Warner)

The third album from House of Doc will likely draw comparisons to fellow Winnipeggers The Duhks and sibling act Nickel Creek. There are even echoes of Spirit of the West here and there, but their producer (and manager) is SOTW drummer Vince Ditrich.

Like the Duhks, HOD incorporates elements of bluegrass, folk, country, gospel, blues, rock and old tyme. Like Nickel Creek, they are family. Dan Wiebe is Rebecca Harder’s brother and Matthew Harder is her husband. Rounding out the quartet is Jesse Krause who replaced David Wiebe (a brother). Multi-instrumentalists all, they each take their turn on the mic and together they deliver solid four-part harmonies. The disc is dominated by original compositions, but for fun they also toss in a refreshing cover of the Stampeders’ classic 1971 hit Sweet City Woman.

On East of West, House of Doc has produced their most adventurous and satisfying disc yet. The third time really is the charm.

— Bruce Leperre

- Winnipeg Free Press

"House of Doc"

East Of West
By Amanda Ash

Listening to House Of Doc’s third album, East Of West, is a lot like being at a family event, you know, the one where Uncle Joe pulls out his guitar after dinner and little Molly stuns her relatives with an angelic voice. There’s just an incredible sense of community felt throughout the record, especially within the warm vocal harmonies produced by the Winnipeg quartet. The communal energy is non-stop right from the get-go, with “Rain Before The Fall” invigorating the group’s funky brand of folk music with country and blues undertones. House Of Doc’s cover of “Sweet City Woman” is nonetheless spirited and “Milk And Cookies” brings you back to the roots of bluegrass. The motto of the album seems to be “Have as much fun as possible,” and with a truism like this, East Of West takes its listeners by the hand, inviting them into the improvisational, don’t-be-afraid-to-sing-your-heart-out atmosphere that only a close-knit family can create. (Warner)
- Exclaim

"Doc's East of West, Well Dressed Folk"

Friday, February 29, 2008

In this inaugural post of ‘Bull’s Best Blog’ I will be reviewing House of Doc's newest CD,”East of West”. It is a well crafted effort of pristine modern Folk/Roots music put together by a tight-knit group of musicians, who in this bloggers opinion have a great future in the ever-expanding Roots market.

At once the listener is taken in by the first track, ‘Rain Before the Fall’. It is lushly layered with the usual folk instruments and the Docs’ trademark harmonies. The electric guitar, bowed bass fiddle and Hammond B3 serve to add a depth of musicality I did not expect when I was unwrapping the CD.

The Docs are breaking new ground here; they even play with some odd meters and time signatures, which to me shows a tip-of-the-hat to Jazz, and even (dare I say it?) Prog Rock. They do it without being lost in an existential world that only the initiated appreciate.

There is some fine songwriting and production displayed here. There is a most telling YouTube video of the Docs and their producer laying bed tracks for the opening song. It is obvious that their music is very serious business; every chord, beat and harmony is getting careful attention from all involved. It would appear that blood sweat and tears went into making this CD and I am guessing there were quite a few laughs along the way. They seem to have a light hearted side as well, and this is brought forth with tracks like Buzzin' Bee and their cover of The Stampeders ‘Sweet City Woman’. They have shown great care and attention in their version of Sweet City Woman and have made it their own, kept it fun, and didn’t mess with a Canadian classic.

‘Buzzin' Bee’ also showed the fun and up-tempo side of the Docs and showed that Matthew Harder is quite a mofo on an electric guitar. Truly the Docs may first and foremost be singers, but they are all excellent players as well; it doesn't take much listening to hear that they all know their instruments. It is also evident that they are far more than three-chord Folkies, out to protest the latest human crisis.

On the deeper side of House of Doc’s material, it is very clear that family, love and human connections are very important to them. ‘Lullaby’ is a powerful song that shows how profound the connections to our elders can be, and how important it is to care for them in their frailty. The sentiment is deep and sincere, and I think that's a statement that can nearly sum up House of Doc. There are no flashy gimmicks, pyrotechnics, or posturing by them. They write and perform from the heart.

Of course beyond classifying this CD as Folk/Roots, it could also be put into the Gospel category. Now, as a hardcore Atheist I am prone to wince at references to the Lord in lyrics. But with an open mind and open ears the joy of what they are trying to convey comes through. They are very good musical communicators, and to their credit they are not afraid to speak what’s on their mind or in their heart.On the whole, House of Doc's ‘East of West’ is a lush and layered album, and it is well worth the time to listen to. All members of the group push the limits of their abilities; the vocal harmonies are smooth and inviting, the musicianship is superb, and the songwriting is good --showing promise of a great future. The musical universe is expanding for House of Doc. Matthew, Dan, Rebecca, Jesse, and their producer Vince Ditrich (Spirit of the West), have made a very, very good album, that appealed to me greatly, and will be listened to many more times here at the ranch.

In my rating system (which I have randomly chosen to display how much I enjoy a CD) I give it 4 out of 5 Bulls!

- Bull's Best Blog

"House of Doc / East of West"


Sun Rating: 4 stars

If that title suggests House of Doc are headed all over the map, it oughta. On this superb third CD, the co-ed family-based foursome push their bluegrass and gospel-based sound in bold new directions, swirling everything from ragtime and Celtic to electronica in with their stunning four-part harmonies -- then decorating it all with stylish production from Spirit of the West's Vince Ditrich. And the playful cover of The Stampeders' Sweet City Woman -- which includes scatting and cutting-edge sonics -- is worth the price alone. The third time's the charm.
- Winnipeg Sun / Darryl Sterdan


'Sacred Blue' -- Independent -- 2003

'Prairiegrass' -- Maplenationwide -- 2005
Extensive Campus radio, CBC features galore, excellent support from CKUA and the like. Repeated attention from Jurgen Gothe, Shelagh Rogers, Tom Coxworth, Terry David Mulligan, and many others.

'East of West' -- Pacific/Warner -- 2007
Advances to radio in mid-September 2007.

'Coventry Carol, Part One' -- A Xmas EP, the first volume of a planned 3 volume set. Completely a cappella, recorded live to tape, and nothing less than a tour de force of singing.



The Group:

Dan Wiebe, sister Rebecca Harder, and husband Matthew Harder compose and perform as only a family does, with uncanny unity and cohesion. The entire Wiebe family has been singing together since early childhood where they first began to hone their craft as Sunday morning vocalists in a Mennonite congregation. House of Doc was born after Matthew Harder, already a professional musician, clearly saw the potential in this remarkable family of musicians. Though only 5’ 6” Matthew has used his strength as a performer, composer and guitarist to help drive the group from the status of gifted amateurs to serious entertainment up and comers, and he hasn’t needed to stand on an apple box to do it.
Dan Wiebe, the baby of the group, is a serious up & coming songwriter, but is also a gifted composer and arranger of classical and choral music, a multi-instrumentalist, and a remarkable vocalist.
Big sister Rebecca Harder has extensive experience not only in flutes, whistles, accordion, and of course vocals but is also a highly regarded music educator.
David Graham is the newest member of the Docs, having come aboard in early 2009. Dave has one of those very rare, rich and incredible bass voices that complete the vocal quartet, while laying down a mean soulful groove on the Double Bass.


Named after their family home, presided over by Grandfather David ‘Doc’ Schroeder, Ph. D., House of Doc family history in Canada dates back to the late 1800s. Infusing musical inspirations such as Gordon Lightfoot, Simon & Garfunkel & Spirit of the West with intricate harmonies, sophisticated counterpoint and a rocking, down-home delivery, the band has captured its story with a rich and sensitive attention to detail.

“…We come from a pretty broad musical background.” says Matthew Harder. Daniel Wiebe explains, “We have a pretty large instrumental capability, flutes, whistles, harmonicas, bouzoukis, bassoons, piano, guitars, squeezeboxes, and we’re not afraid to use it. I’ve played bassoon with the Winnipeg Symphony; besides playing guitar Matthew’s also a concert pianist. As a group we’ve got a lifetime of singing Sacred music -- a cappella and in choirs …It’s just a great big smorgasbord of sounds and influences…A huge palette for a composer / arranger.”

"East of West" -- The New Album

Listeners quickly realize, as soon as they’ve heard ‘East of West’, that House of Doc wants to revamp Folk music.

They begin by putting their best foot forward in the form of superb 4-part vocals. But dazzling instrumental capabilities covering everything from drums to piccolo, with a few detours along the way to places such as bass recorder & bassoon makes it apparent that House of Doc is so much more than just a singing group.

Their 2005 effort was named ‘Prairiegrass’ – a tip of the hat to the band’s Bluegrass background, but with ‘East of West’, the group’s third CD, they have pulled out the stops and removed all firewalls. House of Doc’s musical imagination hits a new stride; and though the touchstones of Bluegrass & Gospel are still visited they are reinvented and energized. Stylistic limitations have gone the way of the Do-Do.

From stripped-down, a cappella ‘Simple Times’, recorded in one pristine take, to the unapologetically epic ‘Summerstone’, replete with full orchestra (performed entirely by House of Doc) ‘East of West’ a very rich & deep collection of songs about family, love, loss & life. Included also is a timely and vibrant cover of ‘Sweet City Woman’, originally recorded by the Stampeders in 1971 -- ripe for a revisit and sounding new again.

Produced by Vince R. Ditrich (Spirit of the West) and recorded at the old and rambling ‘Bath House’ belonging to The Tragically Hip, the month-long residential session brought out the very best in House of Doc and steeped their recordings with a mood & atmosphere that makes itself felt from the very first notes.