Late Thaw
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Late Thaw

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The live@5005 concert series at Genesis Theatre continues when Vancouver bluegrass/ country band Late Thaw rolls into town next Friday.

"We are looking forward to playing at the Genesis.

We have been playing around Vancouver as well as several B.C. tours and have not as yet crossed the Muddy Fraser," says Kate Main, who plays upright bass, in an e-mail to the Optimist. "Time to visit the neighbours!"

Main heads the band along with fellow singer/ songwriter Warren Murfitt.

They started performing together in 2006 at an event called the Salo(o)n, a house concert where artists and musicians could perform original material. They eventually ended up with enough material to record their first album together in 2009, Nineteen56.

The group began with a lot of standard bluegrass and country along the lines of Hank Williams, Buck Owens, Doc Watson, Steve Earle and Townes Van Zandt. Their writing styles have remained steeped in their country and bluegrass roots while Main has brought a little blues into the mix.

The band is currently working on a follow up album and has developed "a great new acoustic sound" with stand up bass, acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo and three-part harmonies.

The current band lineup consists of Bruce Clausen (mandolin), Chris Murphy (banjo), Murfitt (acoustic guitar) and Main (upright bass). They all sing. Simon Kendall (piano and accordion) will make a guest appearance for the upcoming show in Ladner.

The live@5005 series began last month with singer and actress Sibel Thrasher. The monthly series, which is aimed at building a bigger patron base for the theatre as well as promoting the performing arts in the community with local B.C. acts, will take a break during the summer. It's slated to return in September.

Late Thaw performs at the Genesis Theatre on Friday, June 22 at 8 p.m.

Tickets cost $10 at the door. For more on the series visit genesistheatre.ca. Genesis Theatre is located at 500545th Ave., Ladner.

dwillis@delta-optimist.com

- The Delta Optimist


Warren Murfitt’s first album under his own name is so guilelessly straightforward, you could be forgiven for thinking that this cowboy-hatted singer-songwriter and his old-school country tunes got frozen in amber (or bourbon) in some saloon miles from anyone who has any digital anything. So it may come as some surprise to discover that the B.C. native is also a respected sculptor, visual artist, and builder of exquisite acoustic guitars.

The size-tall singer, who also performs in a more bluegrass-based duet called Late Thaw alongside singer-bassist Kate Main, has what you might call a conversational voice. But, oh, what conversations! Murfitt’s originals are uniformly strong (the waltz-time “Saturday Night” was written with Main), with the usual themes of loneliness, country living, and drinking far too much given fresh treatment in producer Simon Kendall’s superb arrangements.

Kendall is a fine keyboard player, but most listeners will latch onto the phalanx of awesome guitarists backing the leader. Pauls Pigat and Rigby have standout solos while John Ellis and George Majoris keep things moving with waves of pedal-steel wooze. Of special note in the well-recorded, handsomely packaged release are the swinging “Cadillac Mary” and Bob Wills-ish title song. The singer’s tender side is equally memorable, with the ballad “Light in Your Room” and the Appalachian-style closer “The Valley” leaving you with more spiritual thoughts. Now that’s some fine art, pardner.
- The Georgia Straight


Nineteen56 (Independent)

Drawing on some of the best roots talent in the city, Late Thaw’s debut album is about as pleasing to the ears as you’d want.

Warren Murfitt and Kate Main are both exquisite players (on guitar and mandolin, respectively), and Main’s voice is particularly solid. Murfitt sounds uncomfortable singing “Lovin’ and Losin’ ”, which might have benefited from a gutsier approach, but the soft-shoe shuffle of “Long Gone” is ideal for his gentlemanly vocal efforts, as are the pedal-steel-kissed lament “Broken Vinyl” and the Gordon Lightfoot–esque “What Can I Do”.

The album is also drenched in group harmonies so tight and pretty that you’ll wonder if Delaney and Bonnie’s famous friends were shipped in on the sly. By the same token, only an idiot would complain about the accompaniment Murfitt and Main enjoy on nineteen56, with the arrival of banjo on “12 Steps” and Terry Townson’s Darktown Strutters trumpet interlude on “Brown Jug” lifting their songs into new realms.

Main’s “Let’s Waltz” would sound good in Sarah Harmer’s or Neko Case’s songbook, and its admonition “Let’s not go to sleep angry/You’re the one I love best”—delivered on a downy bed of fiddle, Hammond, and piano—nails the overall feel of this cheerful and very tasteful record.

Which is also its only downside. Nineteen56 is so polite that it occasionally recalls some of the worthier folk interludes you used to hear on Sesame Street. Then again, it’s not like the world needs more screaming hate, either.
- The Georgia Straight


Discography

Late Thaw - Nineteen56 - 2009
Warren Murfitt - Lonesome Curve - 2012

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Bio

We've had two successful tours through the interior, played at the Sorrento Bluegrass Festival, The Genesis Theatre in Ladner, BC, The Waldorf Hotel in Vancouver, and most recently received a great reception to new audiences at The Ag Hall on Mayne Island and are continuing to build audiences with every show.

Both Kate Main and Warren Murfitt individually write songs which come together in a classic country/bluegrass duet style with an old school sensibility. We perform original music, but time and time again have seen our audiences embrace our material as familiar. We get folk up dancing and asking for more!