Ol' Savannah
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Ol' Savannah

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Folk Blues

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Apr
20
Ol' Savannah @ Petit Campus

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Mar
15
Ol' Savannah @ l'escogriffe bar spactacle

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Mar
02
Ol' Savannah @ Bar à Pitons

Saguenay, Quebec, Canada

Saguenay, Quebec, Canada

Mar
01
Ol' Savannah @ L'ANTI Bar & Spectacles

Ville de Québec, Quebec, Canada

Ville de Québec, Quebec, Canada

Feb
15
Ol' Savannah @ Divan Orange

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Sep
04
Ol' Savannah @ West Side County Fair

New York City, NY

New York City, NY

Jan
23
Ol' Savannah @ Divan Orange

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Sep
29
Ol' Savannah @ Quai des Brumes

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Sep
17
Ol' Savannah @ Grumpy's bar

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Aug
28
Ol' Savannah @ Le Cagibi

Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Aug
20
Ol' Savannah @ Capital Complex

Fredericton New Brunswick, New Brunswick, Canada

Fredericton New Brunswick, New Brunswick, Canada

Aug
19
Ol' Savannah @ Plan B

Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Aug
17
Ol' Savannah @ The Alibi Lounge

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Aug
13
Ol' Savannah @ Governor's Pub

Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

Aug
12
Ol' Savannah @ Halifax International Busker Festival

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Aug
12
Ol' Savannah @ Halifax International Busker Festival

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Aug
12
Ol' Savannah @ Halifax International Busker Festival

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Aug
11
Ol' Savannah @ Halifax International Busker Festival

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Aug
10
Ol' Savannah @ Halifax International Busker Festival

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Aug
09
Ol' Savannah @ Halifax International Busker Festival

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Aug
08
Ol' Savannah @ Halifax International Busker Festival

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Aug
07
Ol' Savannah @ Gus’ Pub

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Aug
06
Ol' Savannah @ Kaffe 1870

Wakefield, Quebec, Canada

Wakefield, Quebec, Canada

Jul
14
Ol' Savannah @ l'Esco

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Jul
09
Ol' Savannah @ Cafe Chaos

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Music

Press


2013 – Coup d’ Griffe


I have yet to meet anyone that has heard the music of Ol' Savannah who can be described as ambivalent towards this bunch of Canadian ‘hillbillies.’ People seem to love them or hate them (although hate is probably a little strong!) and I for one love ‘em! They are a breath of fresh air with their slightly off kilter take on hillbilly music that blends so much more without ever losing sight of those roots. Artists are often described as having a unique style or bringing originality to whatever genre they are working in, something that is almost as often, an exaggeration! I can say in all honesty that there is no one around currently who is even remotely like Ol’ Savannah, in fact I’m not sure there has ever been anyone like them! The lovely instrumental blend contrasts and often clashes with the raw vocals that Tom Waits in his pomp would have killed to possess, but it actually blends beautifully bringing a dark threatening beauty to every song on the album.
When you add Speedy Johnson’s vocals to the mix, that threatening, sinister air goes up several notches and yet the beauty of the songs is never, (although close on a few occasions) overwhelmed. As well as Speedy, who also plays guitar and harmonica, there is Bartleby J. Budde on banjo and vocals, Kevin Labchuk, accordion and vocals with Tim van de Ven, percussion and Ram Krishnan on bass and vocals. This is the third tremendous recording (their second ‘Underneath the old red barn’ was reviewed here in October 2012) by this hugely talented and incredibly busy band who always seem to be playing live somewhere and I’m told by a Canadian friend that they are the best live band he has ever seen. He is someone whose opinion has some credibility, (at least with me!) having been attending gigs for almost as long as I have! One friend felt that the rawness of Speedy’s vocals was just a
studio trick until I sent him youtube links to some of their live performances. His response? They are the real deal!
All songs, with the exception of a tremendous version of the Balfa Brothers Valse De Balfa, are written by Speedy and Bartleby either solo or together, obviously two men on the same wave length with a vision of their music that is constantly evolving, drawing in new ideas that keep everything so fresh and original. Overall the album has a darkness that few can match, with an atmosphere that is an evocation of the ‘hillbilly’ scenes in the old movie ‘Deliverance’ There is always a threatening otherworldly atmosphere to the music, giving the impression that should the listener ever meet this talented band it would be as well to tread very carefully!
The album begins with the incredibly powerful Bury Me On The Mountain and includes some excellent as well as unusual harmonies on a song that even when described as sinister is probably being understated. There is a
slow thudding percussive intro with banjo and accordion on a moody tale that has a slightly threatening otherworldly atmosphere, particularly on the raw snarling chorus that crops up at intervals. The blend of Speedy and Bartleby’s vocals really does have a sinister beauty but that snarling roar plunges into the depths of Hades on a dark powerful song about war and death that offers no release from the darkness. Not quite as dark, but possibly carrying more threat is Swamp Stomp with Speedy’s raw throated vocals driving the song along on a tale that is part hillbilly part punk, although it would be inaccurate and insulting to merely describe the sound as‘punked up hillbilly,’ there is a lot more to the band than that. Thudding bass drum and accordion plus snare combine to propel
the song but they can’t outdo Speedy’s vocals! In some ways the accordion if not being their signature sound certainly dots the ‘I’s and crosses the ‘t’s, particularly on this tale that has the feeling of being rooted in the swampy
eerie backwoods ‘culture.’ Down By The River is a dark sinister ‘backwoods’ tale that is chock full of threat with the funereal paced guitar intro closely followed by Speedys vocal and banjo, before being joined by the accordion. As the song progresses it speeds up with drums and the bands ‘untutored’ choral sounds giving an almost nightmarish quality, before it slows again and merely becomes threatening, reminiscent of the hillbillies in ‘Deliverance’ but much more scary! Death On The Mountain is a lovely guitar, banjo and accordion driven song, as usual full of a threatening power thanks largely to the vocals, despite the beauty of the accordion, banjo and drums making this an excellent title song that really does define the album. Finally, album closer Man From Oblivion provides more dark sinister vocals on a slow moody song that actually starts out with a light upbeat feel but soon, thanks to the vocals,
descends into darkness, but always with the light instrumentation providing an excellent contrast, alt - American Roots UK


Written by Esteban Vargas | September 29, 2013 | Album Reviews

A padded envelope shows up a while back to the brand new MMS office; it could only be one thing — a new album! Hurriedly, I ripped it open only to find a rather different album cover.

The cover (designed by Mike Rigby) features a horse-headed clergyman overseeing fellow forest animals, dressed from head to toe in black funeral garb, carrying a wooden coffin to a mountainside grave beneath an ominous sky. The album? Ol’ Savannah’s “Death On The Mountain”.

The album contains just the right blend of folk and Americana influences with olsavannahthe recognizable banjo, harmonica, and accordion complimenting the usual guitar, bass, and drums. The vocals are also just as important, as they tell a mature, gritty story and give credibility to the rest of Ol’ Savannah’s sound. In fact, the album begins with a track titled “Bury Me On The Mountain” which essentially sets the groundwork for what’s to come. The lyrics channel a dark, twisted story: “I wandered through the mountains till I find my way; joined you in the sleep of our eternal grave”. The band appropriately bookends said lyrics with vocal cries of pain and chains, giving the track some life despite it’s grim subject.

The album however does provide some more kick with tracks such as “Swamp Stomp” and “Down By The River” which could almost serve as the soundtrack to a drunken night amongst old acquaintances. They are in fact rather memorable tracks which will no doubt have you stomping and singing along.

Although the album is deeply influenced by Americana, it is definitely not your typical commercialized “folk”-influenced bands! Ol’ Savannah still succeeds in standing out and they’re able to do so by staying true to the genres they use. Quite simply put, they succeed in channeling the past with a gritty yet polished sound that’s bound to keep you listening again and again.

“Death On The Mountain” is Ol’ Savannah’s 3rd album and features Speedy Johnson (guitar, vocals, harmonica), Bartleby J. Budde (banjo, vox), Kevin Labchuk (accordion, backup vox), Tim van de Ven (percussion), and Ram Krishnan (bass).

You can visit Ol’ Savannah at www.olsavannah.com - Montreal Music Scene


Fri., July 12 - When I ask for three words to describe their music to someone who’d never heard it before, the members of Ol’Savannah have varying responses. “Really, really bad,” remarks one member wryly. Another clarifies the genre: “Appalachian mountain music.” A third member adds, “How about just in your face!”

As I sit on a stool to the side of Quai des Brumes, waiting for the band to set up, I wonder just what their live show will be like. The result? Like nothing I expected.

In the beginning, only some of the band members are onstage. There is the strum of a guitar, a steady drum beat. It is unclear whether the band is still setting up or not, but then the lights dim, and the sound seems to grow deeper and deeper as it builds on itself.

All of a sudden, there is a commotion to the left of the stage: a man wearing a large, eerie-looking donkey mask and waving a ripped up book rides in on the back of another donkey-clad fellow. He steps onto the stage, where he stumbles around and shakes fiercely, while beating the shredded book on the floor. The music, continuously growing in volume and speed, reaches a point where an unnerving sense of urgency permeates the room. While the donkey flails around on the stage, the rest of the band members play their instruments stoically with a haunting sense of duty. The donkey-masked man reveals himself to be Speedy. As he begins to sing, his voice match his actions: equal parts raw and growly, and seem to come from a strange place somewhere in the depths of his insides.

Ol’Savannah may be strange, but they’re not at all off-putting. Their tunes are lively and bring the ol’ cliche toe-tapping music to life: a quick scan of the audience at floor level reveals many a foot that is itching to move. It’s not your regular cheerful folksy setup, though; there is a troubling edge to every note that slides out of their instruments. After the opening song, Speedy swaps his donkey mask for a cap and dedicates the next song to “mothers”. By the third song, audience members quickly shove away the tables in front of the stage to clear room for dancing. It’s impossible to sit still to this sort of music. “When the crowd’s into it, we’re into it,” Speedy noted earlier, and it shows: the more people dance, the wilder the songs get.

The band loves playing live. As often as they can. Wherever they can. “It’s a lot more fun than just puttin’ on a cd,” says Speedy Johnson, who atkes on lead vocals, guitar, and harmonica.

While Speedy rumbles about whiskey and the mountain life, crouched over and cap sliding over his eyes, the rest of the members fill in their parts of the sound. Tim van de Ven, on drums, looks very calm as he maintains the beat while staring up at the ceiling. Ram Krishnan plays bass, plays it seriously, and plays it like it takes him no effort at all. Bartleby Budde strums furiously at the banjo that instantly injects the music with a thorough dose of energy. Kevin “Homebum” Labchuk adds accordion to the mix, drawing out long notes of melancholia. All together, it is absolutely transfixing. Somehow rejuvenating and exhausting at the same time, Ol’Savannah’s sound commands your full attention. Their strongest songs are the ones that start slowly and suddenly explode into a fury of hunkered down stomping and nimble-fingered banjo riffs. The audience agrees, showing their appreciation with stomps, hollers, and ear-to-ear grins.

This Friday night show kicks off a brief tour for Ol’Savannah, who have been playing with varying members for several years. Originally a duo consisting of just Speedy and Bart, Ol’Savannah cites “old-time bluesy guys” Mississippi John Hurt and Fred McDowell as first influences. Their sound has definitely strayed far since they began playing. Bart notes that their last album was “slightly overproduced” and that they were looking for a “rawer feel” for their upcoming release. “The third album is different and weirder,” he states. The album in question will be released in September and has been recorded and produced entirely independently, as the band desired more control over the process. As for the songwriting process, Speedy tells me that it varies with every song. “Sometimes you get a melody in your head,” he says, but also adds that he writes in a notebook which holds the inklings of many lyrics.


All members of the band cite plenty of local support from fellow musicians. United Steel Workers of Montreal and The Unsettlers are two bands that among their favourites; during the set, they cover a Steel Workers song. They also have high praise for their opening act, Sin and The Swoon, whose country harmonies are beautiful in their simplicity. Just two acoustic guitars and vocals, Sin & The Swoon are sweet, but not sugar candy sweet; their sound has the sort of sweetness that belongs to rich amber honey or a ripe fall apple. It has substance without being too serious. Though a somewhat confusing pairing with Ol’Savannah, - Hot Soupe


They won't get drunk no more.

That's a bold statement from a Canadian bluegrass band that's touring the East Coast this summer, playing booze-soaked festivals and bars. Fortunately, Ol' Savannah named their tour and latest EP: Won't Get Drunk No More, after a folk tune, not a moral resolution.

"It's influenced by an old mountain music song from the late 1800s called Old Plank Road. The refrain line is 'won't get drunk no more' and it's repeated a few times," says Speedy D. Clark, one of the founders of the band. He says the band doesn't take the name literally.

"Oh no, we usually have our first beer at noon. Keep the whiskey in the cooler as well and sip on that throughout the day."

Here spoke to Clark over the phone from his post on a wharf beside the Halifax Harbour. Earlier this month, Ol' Savannah had a week-long presence at the Halifax International Buskers Festival armed with a small stage, a PA system and the whiskey-filled cooler. Surrounded by fire breathers, acrobats and jugglers, they were only one of two musical acts at the fest.

"Everything's been beautiful and the people are generous. We've been having a great time."

When asked how he'd like Ol' Savannah's sound to be described, Clark rattles off an answer: "banjo-driven, whiskey-soaked vocals with a lot of stomping." Although the band is now based in Montreal, the members' origins stretch from P.E.I. all the way down to Georgia.

Clark is from Ohio, which he says is close to the Appalachian Mountain Range that stretches through Kentucky into Tennessee. That's partly how mountain music, and all that stomping, got infused into the band's gritty sound. Now Ol' Savannah's bringing it to their new home.

"There's actually a lot of that rootsy, even bluegrass scene in Montreal. It fits well for us and we do pretty well for ourselves in our hometown."

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Upcoming shows at: www.olsavannah.com - HERE


2012 – Self Released

4****

Based in Montreal, Canada, this incredible ‘Hillbilly’ band are unlike anything else you are ever likely to hear, partly due to the blend of instruments on which the beautiful sound of an accordion has just as big a part to play as banjo and guitar, but also thanks to the vocals! Lead vocalist Speedy Johnson’s voice gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘gravelly,’ with ‘whiskey soaked,’ ‘Tom Waitsian,’ and any number of other descriptions being just as inadequate, although Waits is probably the nearest, but only if he was playing a strange eerie kind of hillbilly music!
The band consists of Speedy Johnson on vocals, guitar and harmonica, Bartleby J. Budde, guitar, lap steel, banjo and backing vocals, Kevin Labchuk, accordion, backing vocals, Chris Byrne, bass and backing vocals and Max Outerbridge on drums. Their instrumentation is sufficient
to ensure they don’t sound much like anyone else I can think of, but Johnsons vocals rubber stamp that uniqueness, although even he has a slightly softer side on a couple of near ballads! Having said that if you are a songwriter who wants to offer them any of your material, ‘crooning’is probably not his strong point! There is a huge amount of driving power from those battered vocal chords that
when combined with the bands instrumentation and all round abilities gives these already excellent songs a further lift.
This is their second recording and it is actually a better album than their nearly as good debut, giving the lie to‘that difficult second album’ syndrome. There are two traditional songs, with
the remainder of the songwriting being five songs by Johnson, three by Budde and two co-writes between the pair. Whiskey Stomp, penned by Johnson, gets the album underway with a lovely, mellow easy going banjo introduction, then in comes those vocals on a beautiful sparse song that has a feeling incredibly evocative of the mountains, but those vocals give it an atmosphere that few if
any can match. This is followed by the mid tempo In the Eye of the Moonshine, also written by Johnson, with a lovely accordion backing as a contrast to speedy’s vocals, on a song that says depite being the hurricane season we always have our ‘moonshine’ to ease the pain. It’s a really strong tale about losing a neighbor to the storm and evokes the heat, sentiments and unsettling air that must have been felt by those in the story. This is followed by Budde’s extraordinary American Civil War story and song from which the album takes it’s title, Underneath the Old Red Barn. It has a strange eerie sound with guitar, bass drum, accordion and those harshly atmospheric vocals on an incredibly sad haunting tale of a man forsaken by his lover for a soldier and their eventual return and burial! The traditional Coo Coo is a tremendous interpretation of this sinister old as the hills song that the originators would certainly have appreciated. The lovely haunting accordion is kept in the background throughout, adding to the edgy atmosphere. Won’t Get Drunk No More, is an excellent version of a song made famous by Uncle Dave Macon as ‘Way down the old plank road.’ It is fairly true to the original and just as entertaining, although actually containing more fire and aggression! Twisted Road starts with a nice easy going guitar, banjo and accordion which are then joined by Speedy’s vocals on a tale that is as close to a love song as those vocals will allow and tells a story on which the teller vows to give up on his self indulgent life style for the love of his woman! Every song repays a study of the lyrics with other excellent tales including She done gone to the Devil, on which the teller tries to reclaim his lover from the evil beast and album closer Big Fat mama is a really strong blues song with excellent driving guitar accompanied as usual by the accordion!
Whilst some may find Johnson’s incredible vocals a little 'difficult to take' the album should be given a chance for the atmosphere they create and for the excellent instrumentation and playing. There is also, of course, the tremendously well written songs that often tell darkly epic tales within a generic field that has enough scope for quite a few more raw and hugely entertaining albums of this quality.

http://www.olsavannah.com - American Roots UK


Ol’ Savannah – Underneath The Old Red Barn
Julie Ledoux
5 juin 2012
Ol’ Savannah – Underneath The Old Red Barn (Indépendant)
À l’écoute du premier album de Ol’ Savannah, impossible de ne pas entendre les groupes roots, mélangeant ragtime, bluegrass et country, à la Lake Of Stew, Griffintown Jug Addicts et, du côté franco, Canailles. Les rythmes reviennent en boucles, entre l’harmonica, le lap steel et le banjo, l’accordéon et les guitares. Avec Underneath The Old Red Barn, Ol’ Savannah ne renouvelle pas le genre, mais le maîtrise franchement bien, plongeant tête baissée dans ce foisonnement musical qui réveille à nouveau les oreilles mélomanes depuis quelques temps.
Le groupe, qui se décrit comme un band de Moutain Music – Appalachian Folk-core –, n’a pas volé son attribut. On s’y retrouve bien, dans ces montagnes, remontant la côte vers le village, après une journée de labeur dans les champs ou à la mine. C’est précisément ce type de son qu’on veut entendre, après avoir usé ses mains jusqu’à la corde et marché dans de vieilles bottes dont la semelle s’effrite à vue d’œil.
Speedy Johnson crache les paroles, tandis que Bartleby J. Budde envoie les notes de son banjo, tout en harmonisant avec Kevin Labchuk, et suivant le rythme imposé par Max Outerbridge à la batterie – sur l’album -, et Chris Byrne à la basse. Un quintette bien installé au coin d’un rang, avec Scott Dunbar qui troque l’accordéon pour gratter la planche à laver avec le groupe. Entre le blues et le folk, se trouve Ol’ Savannah qui nous lance «Won’t Get Drunk No More» et son «Whiskey Stomp».
3,7/5
www.olsavannah.com - Bang Bang


Tonight (July 30th) at The Levee, a very special unplugged show will take place featuring local acts Baytown, Steve Maloney, Full Flavor, and come-from-aways Ol’Savannah. Hailing from Montreal, Ol’ Savannah consists of Speedy Johnson (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Bartleby J. Budde (banjo, lap-steel, vocals), Kevin Labchuk (accordion, vocals), Chris Byrne (bass, vocals) and Max Outerbridge (drums).
Stylistically, Ol’Savannah sounds like a mix of Tom Waits’ Mule Variations-era junkyard stomp mixed with old-school bluegrass, blues, and traditional à la Roscoe Holcomb, Muddy Waters and The Pogues. The group’s latest album Underneath The Old Red Barn (2012) is their best and most consistent sounding record yet. Songs range from the banjo-boogie of “She Done Gone to the Devil”, their twisted take on the traditional standard “Coo Coo” and today’s track, the bar-room brawler “Won’t Get Drunk No More”.
Check out Ol’Savannah tonight (July 30th) at The Levee with Baytown, Steve Maloney and Full Flavor. Show starts early at 9:30, so after the Sheepdogs are over make your way straight to the Levee.
https://www.facebook.com/events/395525217173171/
http://www.olsavannah.com/
http://olsavannah.bandcamp.com/ - The Scope


The American south is about to rise again.

Since Ol’ Savannah, the Appalachian mountain music band, rolled into Montreal in 2009, southern roots, blues and bluegrass bands such as the United Steelworkers of Montreal have been making Montreal’s music scene twang like the Deep South.

It all began in 2004 when David Speedy Clark, a native of Dayton, Ohio, moved to Montreal to learn French.

Seven year later, and the now bilingual 28-year-old Montrealer and his banjo-playing pal Bartleby J. Budde paired up to create the folk/roots duo.

However, these two go back to their childhood of salt marsh hoedowns and roaring Baptist hymns, which directly influence their songs today. They adopted the name Ol’ Savannah — named after the historic Georgian town — and recorded their debut album in 2009.

A year later, their musical ambitions had spread to include cajun, folk, bluegrass and something Clark calls “Appalachian Folk-core” that was too big to two to play, and necessitated the addition of Chris Byrne on bass, Max Outerbridge on drums and Kevin Labchuk on accordion to give Ol’ Savannah its multilayered sound.

“The basic difference is you pick the banjo in bluegrass, and claw it in mountain music,” Clark, the band’s songwriter, explains. “We’re getting back to basics. We started doing Appalachian songs from the 1920s but gradually started to modernize them and adding our own songs along the way.

“We have a real strong feel for this music. It’s music is very interactive with the audience. You don’t need a lot of sound and lighting equipment to put on a good show. No offence, but we think of ourselves as an alternative to Nickelback.”

While Ol’ Savannah has been making clubs in Ol’ Montreal sound like the Deep South, Clark insist it’s not incompatible with Canadian culture.

“There are some things that go well with this kind of music. Hiking, car chases, throwing the frisbee, drinking whiskey. There are others you don’t want to be doing, like making love when listening to mountain music.” - Ottawa Sun


Fronted by rough vocals and backed by banjo accordion, the five men that make up Ol’ Savannah have a knack for creating music that sounds fresh out of bluesy New Orleans. They are founding members Speedy D. Clark (guitar, vocals, harmonica) and Bartleby J Budde (lap steel, banjo, guitar, backup vocals), plus Kevin Labchuk (accordion, backup vocals), Max Outerbridge (drums) and Chris Byrne (bass). Bringing back this old style of music that is rooted in the past, they promise to transport you to a world that can only be described as their own.

On May 6 2011, Ol’ Savannah released their debut full-length self-titled album. The first song on this 9-track record is called Bad Luck Lady, and wastes no time in showing just what the band is all about. The album contains a lot of great lyrics, and this song contains one of the most raw: “Oh, I love you so much / my heart’s bleeding through my shirt”. Like the sounds of this? Stay tuned; there’s plenty more where that came from.

Pot Pie Heaven is one of the standout tracks on the album. It begins with quiet bluesy picking, full of tension, and soon turns into a rollicking anthem, complete with strong bass, guitars, accordion and harsh vocals that resonate right into your core. Blast this one on your stereo. It’s a really magical thing.

I Will Roam displays a softer, more country side of the whiskey-drinkin’ boys, centered on some great chorus harmonies, and the oh-so-sweet sound of a crooning harmonica. Have I ever told you how much of a sucker I am for some good mouth organ playing? Well I am. This song definitely creates visions of a great countryside on a sweet summer day, and is my favourite on the record. Everything just comes together beautifully.

Another song from Ol’ Savannah that really transports you as you listen is When Trains Go By. This one is about busking by the trains, trying to get a day’s pay by playing music. If you’re like me, you’ll see Speedy D. Clark standing there with his guitar, singing and playing wholeheartedly as the trains rumble by on a hellishly hot day. And friends, it’s a beautiful thing.

If you’re really into stompin’, Amen is for you. This six-minute long song is stomp ready, at your queue. It’s self-explanatory, really. Can I hear an Amen?

Finally, this record ends with Empty Room, perhaps the most bluesy song not only on this record, but also that I’ve heard in a long while. Beginning with the line “I done drank so much whiskey/I staggered in my sleep.” and filled to the brim with moonshine, you truly cannot go wrong with a tune like this. Plus, it’s another great example of harmonica skills from Clark.



Ladies and gentlemen, this record is golden. What makes it so special? Well, can you think of another band these days putting out bluesy music filled with soul-filled lyrics and vocals, and the delicious sounds of accordion and harmonica combined? Yup, that’s what I thought. This is only the beginning, and it seems that Ol’ Savannah know exactly who they are and where they are going. Keep a strong lookout for these five men in the future.

Favourite tracks: Pot Pie Heaven, I Will Roam, Empty Room

Keep up with anything and everything Ol’ Savannah by means of their website, Facebook and Twitter. Want this record for yourself? Visit their Bandcamp page, and download this self-titled debut for the very low price of $9. It doesn’t get much better than this, folks. - Sound Vat


OL’ SAVANNAH
Avant même d’embarquer sur scène, une forte odeur de whiskey et de bourbon en provenance du bar où étaient confortablement juchés les gars d’Ol’ Savannah nous enivrait, question de bien s’acclimater à ce qui attendait l’auditoire présent. Après avoir avalé cul sec leur doux élixir, ils entament la pièce Cry Out Loud tirée de leur album homonyme endisqué en mai dernier.
La poignée de gens présents était alors transportée dans un voyage spatio-temporel dans la Lousianne des années 20, où la musique était le parfait baume pour toutes les petites balles courbes de la vie. Le quatuor montréalais composé de Speedy D. Clark à la voix et à la guitare acoustique, du multi-instrumentiste Bartleby J. Budde, de Kevin Labchuck à l’accordéon et du batteur Max Outerbridge, était accompagné pour l’occasion d’un bassiste. Celui-ci a solidifié une section rythmique déjà robuste et a donné une performance convaincante, très entraînante, grâce entre autres à un banjo endiablé, l’épine dorsale de la plupart des pièces à saveur country/folk/americana. Composant des chansons clairement influencées par une autre époque, Ol’ Savannah respecte avec finesse ses origines, tout en rendant le tout actuel et captivant pour l’auditeur. - Rue Masson - le média hyperlocal du Vieux-Rosemont


Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at OttawaMagazine.com. Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine.

GET DOWN AT THE HOEDOWN
The O-Town Hoedown, which started last Friday, continues into the weekend with plenty of opportunities to horse around and soak up urbanized versions of country music.

Spurred on (sorry, couldn’t resist) by a rising tide of alterna-country-craving music followers, organizer Lefty McRighty, now in his fifth year of producing the fest, decided to boldly declare that the O-Town Hoedown would stay niche, promote those bands you’ve never heard of, and avoid the mainstream.

It ensures that he can differentiate his fest from That Other Hoedown and put to the rest that little squabble of yesteryear.

Lefty marked his territory in week one by programming a number of No Depression-style showcases. There was the night at the Elmdale which saw troubadour Trevor Alguire hop about on one leg. Alguire is also a long-time skateboarder — he launched the On Deck shop in 1988. He broke his femur during a board accident three weeks ago.

“I love how just picking up a guitar and singing keeps me going and really takes me away from the pain I am in,” Alguire says. The crowd was feeling for him and they were also feeling a tune called I Suppose, which Alguire will record in October, after he returns from a tour of Germany.

Last Saturday’s show at the Rainbow was “a delightfully weird mixture of jazz, bluegrass and foot-stomping country blues, but somehow it worked,” says Lefty, adding, “Ol’ Savannah from Montreal killed it, and made a roomful of new fans.”

The Monday show at the Manx Pub was the debut of The Whiskey Critters, a new group featuring Morgan Friend (Bible All-Stars), Max Cossette (Sick Sick Sicks), Joel Carlson (Jimmy George) and Dave Cooper on drums. It was Cooper’s first live show in 25 years — most people might know him from his other career . (Yes, THAT Dave Cooper).

The Hoedown continues this weekend. Check out the spare folk of The Rough Sea, who are playing an all-ages matinee show with The Kingmakers. Sunday, Oct. 3. 3 p.m., $8. Elmdale Tavern. Another solid choice is jam-packed concert that includes The Sick, Sick, Sicks, Big Tobacco & the Pickers, and King Rattler. Friday, Sept. 30. 9 p.m., $10 play the Elmdale Tavern. - Ottawa Magazine


Ol’ Savannah (The Central, Fri. June 17 @ 12 midnight)

What’s this? An old-timey band out of Montreal playing mountain music from Appalachia? Well, okay then — lots of gruff vocals, banjo and accordion and drums. Singing along, foot stomping and yelling encouragement comes naturally to their audiences. - FYI Music News


Never has a an album full of references to drinking, smoking and fighting been this much fun. Meet Ol’ Savannah and their self-titled debut disc.

The album emanates a rough and raw country-rock sound that the band was definitely aiming for in this recording. The scratchy vocals of lead singer Speedy D. Clark (whose name just seems perfect for this kind of music) are complemented by the frequent use of accordion and banjo along with guitar.

Their lyrics and song themes also match well with their rough-and-tumble musical style. In album closer “Empty Room” for example, the heavy use of harmonica and electric guitar perfectly support Clark as he sings “I done drank so much whiskey/I staggered in my sleep.”

Or in “When the Trains Go By” Clark sings about how one makes a living next to the train tracks- “I just sing a little louder/strum a little harder/I’ve got to when the trains go by.”

“Milk Clow Blues” could be called a straight Americana song- it’s more or less about the song’s protagonist chasing “his Susan” all across the United States before heading to Sault Ste Marie and ending the song with an absolutely brilliant line about Canada.

The most poignant song is “Never Killed a Man” in which Clark sings “I killed a man but I never killed a man who didn’t need a killing.” The lyric and song title should speak for itself.

The band shows a little bit of a softer side on “I Will Roam” which gives off a more country-folk feel. The first minute or so is just accordion, banjo and harmonica. When Clark’s vocals kick in, they still sound somewhat gravelly as they do in the other songs but are somewhat cleaner. It makes the chorus, where he harmonizes with guitarist Bartleby J. Budde that much more powerful. Even the lyrics are for more pretty and filled with imagery.

Ol’ Savannah are a pretty new band and they’ve already found, as far as I’m concerned, their niche. This is some top-quality stuff and the band’s future music will probably be just as good if not better.

This album will be available on May 6th, 2011. You can catch the band’s CD release show on the same day at Montreal’s Divan Orange.

Top Tracks: “I Will Roam”; “Amen”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) +*swoop* - Grayowl Point


Ol’ Savannah hail from Montreal, Quebec and are set to release their debut self titled album. I’ve had the opportunity to listen to the new LP and let me tell you, you’re in for a treat here folks. If you head over to their website, you can stream a couple of songs off the album. I highly recommend I Will Roam. Be sure to grab a copy of Pot Pie Heaven, which is available for free download.

The release party goes down May 6th at Divan Orange in Montreal. For additional live dates and more, visit Ol’ Savannah on Myspace. - The Indie Machine


Formed by American ex-pats Bartleby J Budde and Speedy D. Clark, the group is now based in Montreal. Ol' Savannah's songs about love and loss, joy and despair, and life and death take on an upbeat country drive that keeps folks on their feet. Budde and Clark's sweet twang of strings is accompanied by Chris Byrne, bass, Max Outerbridge, drums, Kevin Labchuk, accordion, and occasionally Scott Dunbar, percussion. - The Buzz


Ol’ Savannah, Mind That Bird and The Jimmyriggers on stage at Divan Orange

By Maya Malkin

­­On Sept. 8, The Jimmyriggers, Mind That Bird and Ol’ Savannah, all Montreal based bands, took on Divan Orange for a night of loud folk music.

The Jimmyriggers started off the night right on time at 10:00 p.m. with a half-hour set. Divan Orange was pretty empty, but 15 minutes into their set, the place was significantly busier.

Their music is light rock mixed with a little bit of a country twang. The band is made up of three members. Andre Kirchhoff, on electric guitar and lead/backing vocals, David Pearce on bass guitar and lead/backing vocals, and Robert Harris on drums. The crowd seemed semi-pleased.

Half of the people were sitting down and the people who were standing were only at the back of the venue. “We don’t smell that bad,” Pearce told the crowd. Most of the people were aged from age 20 to 40.

Mind That Bird took the stage right after, with an original folk/rock sound. A surprisingly low voice came out of the small Ryan Gosling look alike lead singer and guitar player, Dylan Perkons.

Their music stood out because of the wonderful Ari Swan, on the violin. Every song was accompanied by a very beautiful sound coming from her instrument, and Swan threw in some finger picking as well. Other members of the band include, Adrian Bergman on bass and vocals, Terry Boisvert on guitar and vocals, and Rob De Konick on drums.

“I’ve never heard either of the opening bands before, I’m here for Ol’ Savannah, but I’m going to have to look these guys up cause their great,” laughed Alex, one of the many attendees.

At 11:15 p.m. new people were still coming in to Divan Orange. Mind That Bird had a pretty big crowd and a good energy on stage. They ended their set by saying: “tip the bartender this place is great, I love Divan Orange!”

Finally, Ol’ Savannah, the main act was up and unfortunately the microphones were giving them a lot of feedback. “Can we fix that problem please?” said the lead singer, who calls himself Speedy D. Clark. The band definitely got people up on their feet. The back of Divan was empty because every one was dancing.
Ol’ Savannah’s sound is very upbeat and bluesy with a Southern folk/country vibe. Their music turned the room to an old southern bar, filled with men who spent all day working in the fields.

“Let’s slow it down and talk about killing people,” Clark said, and then went on to play yet another upbeat song. The other members that make up Ol’ Savannah are Bertleby J. Budde, on guitar, lap steel, banjo, and backup vox, Kevin Labchuk, on accordian, and backup vox, Chris Bryne, on bass, and Max Outerbridge on drums.

As the night went on, a couple people left here and there but overall they kept a large crowd of people dancing. “I’m here for my buddy, the lead singer of Ol’ Savannah,” said Samson Smith, a man present during the night. Their set was over at about 1:30 a.m. and ended with two guitarists going up on stage to jam.
“We were just hanging at Divan tonight,” said a man sitting at a table near the back. The girl sitting with him interrupted. “I really liked it though, really cool, all the bands were,” she said.

Whether people were there to support their friends, or to discover new music, all three bands gained some new fans.

You can catch these bands at upcoming shows in Montreal at venues like Hemisphere Gauche, L’Etranger, L’Escogriffe, Trois Minots, Brutopia and Il Motore within the next couple months.

www.myspace.com/olsavannah

www.myspace.com/mindthatbird

www.myspace.com/thejimmyriggers
- The Plant


8/10

The good ol’ boys of Ol’Savannah are at it again with their upcoming EP, Don’t Let It Reign. They have three full length albums in their discography so far, and this three-track EP will be added later this month. Back in 2009, Speedy Johnson and Bartleby J. Budde started Ol’Savannah as a songwriting/singing duo and promptly added Kevin Labchuk to their lineup. Over the years they have also had a number of musicians play with them either on tour or in the studio. Kevin Moquin and Matthew Outerbridge sat in with the band for this latest recording.

The album stays true to their spirit and sound. It is modern Americana folk and it’s easy to pick up on the multitude of styles incorporated such as country, roots, bluegrass and r&b. Title track “Don’t Let it Reign” appears first and opens with some strong harmonica. Johnson’s raspy wolfman-esque voice comes in and, if you’ve ever heard it before, there is no question who you are listening to.

“Passenger, Pass On By” is slightly quicker in tempo than the first track, and the string instruments stand out. It sounds like it could be a rail worker’s song with lyrics that speak of land; the theft and destruction of it. “Take your land…leave you homeless away from the river shore” and “Virgin land in tar sands…rape your land, won’t breath no more,” are examples and it ends with a chorus of “hi hoe“…the ever marching to work tune.

When I saw the title “Song for Trayvon”, I passingly wondered who Trayvon was. When I listened to the lyrics it became very clear. Both the music and lyrics on this song are poignant. They point out the difference between the house of God and the house of man and with which one you’ll find justice and which one you might want to be armed before entering.

The album was recorded and mixed by Élie Jalbert of The Unsettlers at Victor Studio. It was mastered by Harris Newman of Grey Market Mastering. The cover art is an abstact painting done by Speedy Johnson himself, and Sasha Endoh created the design.

Don’t Let It Reign will be available as of March 18th and Ol’Savannah will be having an EP launch show the same night with their pals The Steady Swagger at l’Escogriffe. - Bucketlist Music Reviews


It was a Wednesday night in Montreal and the day after St Patrick’s Day, but that didn’t stop a huge, rowdy crowd from showing up at L’Escogriffe to help Ol’Savannah celebrate the release of their new EP Don’t Let it Reign. Joining them for the event were their good friends, local act The Steady Swagger.

Ol Savannah

After a short break and some refills, Ol’ Savannah began to play, and they had an extra member on board. The usual suspects are Speedy Johnson on guitar/vox/harmonica, Bartleby J. Budde on banjo, Kevin Labchuk on piano/accordion, and Ram Krishnan on drums (mandolin on the EP). This time Kevin Moquin added his guitar expertise to the first half of the set.

They opened with “Song for Trayvon,” an impassioned track from the new album. The song is a tribute to the innocent young man who’s murderer now enjoys getting paid for creating plagiarized paintings that some refer to as “murderabilia.”

Next was the title track “Don’t Let it Reign,” a song about social inequality. They played several songs from their previous albums, including “Swamp Stomp,” “Coming to me,” and “Underneath the Old Red Barn.” The last song Kevin Moquin played on, “Passenger Pass on By,” is also from the EP. The band gifted him with a bottle of whiskey for playing with them and for being on the album.

Their french track “Valse De Balfa” got a huge response from the mostly francophone crowd. About mid set they played “Death On The Mountain” which has an awesome video to go with it. We also got to hear a brand new track that has yet to be recorded called “Charlie Hedbo.” It was a moving song, and is in league with their style of conscious folk.

As part of the encore they played a cover of “Shot Tower” by United Steelworkers of Montreal, and they finished with one of my personal favorite “Sticks and Stones” from their second album Underneath the Old Red Barn. Everyone who came out was expecting a fun show, and the bands did not disappoint the fans.

Ol’ Savannah has a busy schedule for the next few months, including shows in Newfoundland and New York City. They have two free upcoming shows in Montreal: April 9th at Bier Markt and April 23rd at Honey Martin in Montreal’s N.D.G. neighbourhood. - Bucketlist Music Reviews


If there are two things Montreal loves, they are whiskey and folk music. Friday night served up generous helpings of both at Divan Orange, with Ol’ Savannah’s fifth release, an EP called On a Trip to Normal.

The bar filled up quickly with an air of excitement as musicians exchanged stories from the road. I bumped into Ram Krishnan, drummer for Ol’ Savannah and iconic Grumpy’s barman. The band spent July touring the East Coast. When I asked how it went, he smiled and shrugged, “Oh you know, ups and downs.” I later heard from accordion player Kevin Labchuk and banjo player/vocalist Bartleby Budde that the weather was unseasonably cold. They seemed in good spirits, however, basking in the warmth of both the Montreal summer and the crowd gathering for the show.

Ol’ Savannah did not so as much take the stage as they transported the bar to some backwoods, rustic setting. Singer Speedy Johnson entered, whacking a shovel with a wooden stick, while Labchuk’s accordion billowed with ominous notes. “This train runs on whiskey!!” cried Johnson, enticing the audience with the skill of an old carnival barker.

They started off with the new EP’s track “Charlie Do, Charlie Don’t,” referring to the Charlie Hebdo shootings. Ol’ Savannah has an impressive ability to weave modern politics into authentic roots numbers, creating something that is simultaneously current yet timeless.

They covered Blind Willie Johnson’s “Soul of a Man,” a hidden track on the new EP, before slipping into “Don’t Let It Reign.” By now you could feel the ground rumble as every foot in the house stomped along. The band took a moment to introduce their ill-fated mascot Bucky, a tiny effigy hung by a noose on Budde’s mic stand. Laughter erupted, and shot glasses were raised in poor Bucky’s honour.

The band slowed it down with the track “Coming to Me.” Bass player Mike Gavrailoff remain locked in a tight rhythmic pocket throughout the show, bobbing and nodding with toothpick and grin. Soon all four were hunched low over their instruments, locked in a rhythmic sway. The vocal harmonies of Savannah are simply haunting. Each member has a distinct grit, and combined it produces an otherworldly rumble. There is a spiritual quality to their music that the audience responded to, swaying with their hands in the air as if grasping for salvation.

The EP title track is based on the actual town of Normal, Indiana. Johnson joked about what an awful world it would be if everyone came from Normal. The crowd applauded this salute to misfitry. There was a lovely Leonard Cohen cover, and at one point Krishnan put down his drum sticks to join in on mandolin. A round of whiskey was sent up for birthday toasts to Krishnan and Johnson.

Budde took the stage solo with his gourd banjo for “Arlington,” singing with restrained frailty about death rites while the audience watched in a solemn hush. The band returned to whip the crowd into a dancing frenzy, doing three encores including “Man From Oblivion” which – I’m informed – is a rarity.

By the end of the show both the floor and the audience were well worn, but the party did not subside. Whiskey and stories continued to flow until closing time, with new friendships forged on the dance floor and old ones fortified through a session of honest roots music.

Written and Photographed by Courtney O’Hearn
*edited by Kate Erickson - Bucketlist Music Reviews


Ol' Savannah, Bats in the Belfry

Trois filles assumées et sûres d'elles...Trois filles qui savent capter l'attention, partagent leur énergie mordante et savent aussi se faire plus douce. Elles s'appellent Bats in the Belfry et on doit dire qu'on a aimé ça ! Ol' Savannah, lui, est le genre de groupe qui fait mouche à chaque fois. Chaque membre respire l'authenticité. La scène est leur terrain de jeux et le public souvent un membre du band à part entière. Pour résumer ce fut une belle soirée, pleine de sourires! - Camuz


Discography

Ol' Savannah - 2011

Underneath The Old Red Barn - 2012

Death on the Mountain - 2013

Burden - 2017

Fill My Cup at De Melkbus: Live in Dordrecht, Netherlands - 2018

Photos

Bio

Ol' Savannah is an independent folk/roots band fronted and managed by songster, Speedy Johnson, and based in Montreal, Canada. The group began in 2009, playing songs influenced by blues artists, such as Mississippi Fed McDowell and John Hurt. Ol' Savannah have released four full-length albums: Ol' Savannah (2011), Underneath the Old Red Barn (2012), Death on the Mountain (2013), and Burden (2017). 

Ol' Savannah's style has been compared to a mix of Tom Waits, Roscoe Holcomb, Muddy Waters, and The Pogues.

Ol' Savannah have made multiple appearances on Halifax, Nova Scotia's waterfront as part of the Halifax International Busker Festival (2010 & 2011). In Quebec, the group participated in Festival Fringe in Montreal and Chicoutimi in 2012, and they played Festival International de Folk Sale in June of 2013 in Ste-Rose-du-Nord. In June 2015, the band performed at the Montreal Folk Festival on the Canal. And, in May 2016, the group played Paddlefest in St-Andrews, New Brunswick.  

In October 2017, Ol' Savannah accepted an invitation to perform at Festival Le Grand Soufflet in Brittany, France, and followed that with a six-week tour in western Europe, which took the group to Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, as well as France.

Ol' Savannah are currently planning their second European tour in May-June 2018. The group has confirmed Labadoux Festival (Ingelmunster, Belgium), Southwell Folk Festival (Southwell, United Kingdom), and Muddy Roots Europe Festival (Waardaame, Belgium).   

From 2013-2017, Cult MTL readers voted Ol' Savannah into the "Best Country/Folk Act" category in the annual "Best of Montreal" survey.

Band Members