Jack Pine and The Fire
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Jack Pine and The Fire

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Folk Roots


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




Heartache, adventure, a sense of home — these were all starting places for the songs on the self-titled debut disc from Ottawa’s Jack Pine & the Fire, but it’s not a self-pitying release. The bustin’, bluegrassy album is technically slick, but leaves enough room for the rising vocal idiosyncrasies of the frontman to shine through.

Front man Jack Pine is the nom de tune of Gareth Auden-Hole, 31, formerly of the Slackjaw Sinners. He liked the symbolism of the tree: its ability to re-seed burnt ground after a forest fire gives it a sense of purpose and legacy. There’s also the ability to coattail on the iconic Tom Thompson painting of the same name and all its implied Canadiana — another element in the nine songs on the album.

A stream of mandolin, guitars, dobro, pedal steel, and fiddle give the album an haute-campfire vibe, made resonant by Auden-Hole’s vocal edges. His stories play on average themes, but are made bold and new by a robust telling and smart unravelling.

There’s Home, about a guy who has been vagabonding all his life until he realized the only sensation he hasn’t experienced was that of home. “It’s the smash country hit on the album,” Auden-Hole laughs. In addition to the “accessible” track, there’s Everybody’s Blues, a gentle take on collective misery, and the kicker, Gather, for hardened hearts and shattered spirits.

Auden-Hole pursued songwriting while wrapping up a combined communications and humanities degree from York University. He returned home to Ottawa after school and, overdue for adventure, took off for Victoria, B.C. He hitchhiked from his family’s cottage in Thunder Bay to Calgary, riding along with new wave hippies in a VW van. He bridged the rest of his route out west by riding along with various characters and gathering up tales and experiences.

Later, as his songwriting developed, Auden-Hole started to fiddle around with recording in studio, but became exasperated by the technical learning curve.

“I didn’t want to flail around and be frustrated by not knowing enough.” So he went to the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology in London to become a recording engineer and currently works a day job as the technical lead at the First Unitarian Church. He has a studio in his Alta Vista home called Wee Vox Sound, where he’s recorded tracks for the Occupy Ottawa compilation and vocalist Tara Porter. Porter is also among a long list of local artists who guested on the Jack Pine album, including Anders Drerup (The VanMeters), Tim Watson (Dave Norris & Local Ivan), Stuart Rutherford (Dusty Drifters), Martin Newman (The Flaps), Kelly Prescott, and John Showman (Creaking Tree Quartet, New Country Rehab). - Ottawa Magazine

"One of the most rocking folk albums of the year’"

One of Gareth Auden-Hole’s recurring childhood memories involves his mother’s determined efforts to cultivate jack pine at the family cottage in Northern Ontario.

He doesn’t remember her having much success. Although the hardy evergreen thrives in challenging conditions, the first problem is to get the seed. As the 31-year-old musician explained during a recent interview, it takes the heat of a forest fire to open the cone and release the seed.

Intrigued by the concept, Auden-Hole took the tree’s name for his first serious musical project, Jack Pine and the Fire.

“I thought that was inspiring, the fact that this plant cannot recreate without everything else pretty much dying,” says the Ottawa-born singer-songwriter. “That dichotomy of birth coming from death attracted me.”

It’s also a good analogy for the new band. Jack Pine and the Fire was born out of the ashes of Auden-Hole’s former band, Slackjaw Sinners. With the new project, Auden-Hole is in complete control of the vision: He’s not only responsible for the songwriting, singing and playing (of guitar and mandolin) but he’s also the engineer who produced and mixed the songs. An audio engineer by training, Auden-Hole recorded most of the album in his home studio, which he had to finish building before starting the job. What spurred him on was a municipal arts grant.

“The original plan wasn’t to record the whole thing by myself,” Auden-Hole says. “I figured I’d do some parts at home, and then go to a studio ... but in the end, it seemed like I could do it all myself, so I did.”

I’d say it’s money well spent. The album is one of the most rocking folk albums of the year, a bit like a young Steve Earle if he was backed by Mumford and Sons. The alt-country-rock landscape is dotted with quicksilver mandolin, sure-handed acoustic guitar and driving fiddle, performed by a studio band that was hand-picked by Auden-Hole. The lineup includes such notable Ottawa musicians as Stuart Rutherford on Dobro, Anders Drerup on pedal steel and guitars, as well as the rhythm section of standup bassist Martin Newman and drummer Tom Watson. Also featured is the searing fiddle of John Showman, founder of the Canadian folk experimentalists New Country Rehab.

The songs range from the mandolin-driven rocker Gold Silver Bronze to the road-weary anthem, Home, with side trips to the Appalachians for Mountain Climber and the Southern U.S. for the tongue-in-cheek Lost in New Orleans. Auden-Hole says he’s not a prolific songwriter. This batch was written over the last six or seven years; many have been through previous incarnations.

Several were originally inspired by Auden-Hole’s hitchhiking adventures. After graduating from York University, Auden-Hole hitchhiked from Northern Ontario to Victoria, B.C., and back, a mandolin in his pack.

“The themes on the album are about travelling and leaving and running away and coming back,” he says. “It comes from my own experiences, but it’s not necessarily autobiographical.”

Hitchhiking, if you have the time, is a great way to see the country, Auden-Hole adds.

“Everywhere you go, you have a tour guide who either has been through that road so many times and can point out all the cool stuff that’s happening, or it’s their first time as well, and you’ve never met them and you’re experiencing it together,” he says.

Auden-Hole has been playing piano since he was a child, picked up guitar at the age of 12 and started writing songs in university, singing them at open-mike sessions. He found he preferred to be behind the scenes, so he completed formal training at the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology and then opened his own studio, WeeVox Sound.

As for the future, will he stay behind the board or can he see Jack Pine taking root? “Long term, I’d like to be behind the scenes,” Auden-Hole says. “I’d like to facilitate the creation of music in general and being not that public of a songwriter seems like a better way to do it.”

That said, he’s been rehearsing with the band and is not opposed to the idea of being an artist, if that’s where the music leads.

“This is the first time I’ve been willing to accept that outcome,” Auden-Hole says. “Before I was adamant about it being a stepping stone to more recording. I still see the focus being more on the recording than the performance, but it’s all new to me. I’m not sure where I’ll go in the future.”

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/entertainment/most+rocking+folk+albums+year/6050889/story.html#ixzz1kzI320PR - The Ottawa Citizen


Still working on that hot first release.



The jack pine is not your average tree. It sheds its seeds within a pinecone, like other pines, but the cone itself remains sealed. It will only open under extreme heat - in a forest fire, for example - allowing it to drop its seeds and begin a new generation. The jack pine is a tree that needs disaster to keep growing; it thrives while everything around it dies.
Jack Pine and the Fire, the project of Ottawas Gareth Auden-Hole, evokes that very same feeling of finding direction in chaos. Stepping out of his usual role as an audio engineer and music producer, Auden-Hole let his songwriting skills and musicianship rise to the top for this notable debut, a self-titled effort and an outstanding collection of songs. The richness of roots music, the twang of old-time country, and the frantic energy of gritty rock are wrapped into a narrative, then hammered out by the band's talented fingers and stomping feet. There is nomadic soul-searching, insomnia-ridden doubt, homesickness, the discovery of inner wealth, and a lonely death under the weight of a broken heart. All the while, Gareths vocals, as sweet as they are raw and tattered, weave overtop of the story as the music pulls you deeper inside.
Still, there is hope in all this hard love as we are reminded in Gather, Bring out your dead, torn, and tarnished souls We won't win the war until our weapons fall. Such is the case with the resilient jack pine: sometimes, when the conditions are right, beauty can be found in decay.


Jack Pine and The Fire is often hard to describe. It's clearly rooted in traditional folk and country music, but it's somehow heavier, more diverse, more real, more true. The bass growls, the drums hammer, the strings are sawn and bashed until broken, the vocals are raw, and the lyrics deep and thoughtful. And while all this raw energy being thrown around there's still an underlying skill and musicianship. They are fresh. They are a force to be reckoned with.

Band Members