Poor Angus
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Poor Angus

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE | AFM

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Folk Celtic




"Graham Rockingham's Best Bets-Poor Angus"


New singer-songwriter Joel Guenther has added a fresh new sound to this Hamilton Celtic-roots quintet that will be pleasing to Mumford & Sons' fans. You can hear it on Poor Angus's superb new CD, Gathering, impeccably recorded at Grant Avenue Studio by producer Amy King. - Hamilton Spectator

"Hamilton's Poor Angus shines on 'Gathering'"

It's definitely one of the only records to come out of Hamilton this year that starts with the drone of bagpipes.

The Gathering — the opening and title track on the new record from Hamilton's Poor Angus — is undeniably folk. It's only fitting the pipes come at the start of the record, too. They usually signal the introduction of a celebration.

"They're the grand entrance," said Brian LeBlanc, who plays guitar, mandolin and sings on the album.

But the song also hints at something new bubbling underneath its surface. The way the backing instrumentation effortlessly shifts from major to minor under the melody and the deft bagpipe harmonies quickly allude to a traditional album that's anything but traditional.

"That song is the harbinger of what is to come — the change of pace," LeBlanc says.

'It isn't dead. It's a living art form that's constantly in flux.'
—Brian LeBlanc, Poor Angus
New vocalist Joel Guenther was a big part of ushering in that change. Though he's been with the band for a while, Gathering is his first real opportunity to help Poor Angus branch out.

Guenther's background is as a singer/songwriter, with influences steeped in blues and rock music. As he's not confined to any one idiom, the band dips in and out of several genres and is all the better for it. Think Floggy Molly when they dial it down a notch.

A standout track is the lilting ballad Something I Can't See, which made it all the way to the finals of the CBC Music Searchlight competition, before dropping to Sherman Downey and the Ambiguous Case from Newfoundland. Still, it's a perfect snapshot of a band really finding its footing with a new member.

"Honestly, some of Joel's melodies are some of my favourite things ever recorded," LeBlanc said.

Channeling Stan

But for all the branching out, Poor Angus still holds true to its celtic roots on Gathering. There are some strong traditional arrangements on there, as well as a faithful rendition of Barrett's Privateers by Canadian folk icon Stan Rogers.

The famous A cappella "modern sea shanty" is one of the band's most requested songs, LeBlanc says.

Performing a tune like that is no small feat, but the band nails it — even going so far as to do all the harmonies in one track, live off the floor. "It's a very honest track," LeBlanc said. "Either you enjoy doing harmony and you get it, or you don't."

The band has a personal connection to Rogers — former lead singer and current band manager Scott Cameron Smith is married to Ariel Rogers, Stan's widow. She's also credited as an executive producer on all of the band's albums and Gathering's closer, Ariel's Waltz, is named after her.

'It isn't dead'

Poor Angus has gotten a really strong response from fans in advance of the album's July 4 release date, LeBlanc says. It was recorded at the local Grant Avenue Studios and released on Dundas-based label Fogarty's Cove Music.

More than anything, LeBlanc is hoping that people listen to this record and get a sense that traditional music isn't stale, he says.

"It isn't dead. It's a living art form that's constantly in flux."

The album release show is happening this Friday at the Pour House at 1115 Fennell Ave E. Cover is $10 in advance through the band's website or $15 at the door. The show starts at 8 p.m.

For more on Poor Angus or to pick up the album, visit Poorangus.com. - CBC Hamilton

"Poor Angus, 3.5 out of 4 stars"

Hamilton-based folk ensemble Poor Angus-guitarist/singer songwriter Scott Cameron Smith, fiddler Andrew Bryan,bodhran player Brian LeBlanc and piper Ross Griffiths-practice a robust blend of Celtic-based traditional music and British-styled narrative song that will sound familiar to fans of the late Stan Rogers. It's perhaps no surprise that the band's debut album is released on the label operated by Rogers' widow Ariel, and includes the Canadian folk icon's composition "Fogarty's Cove" as well as a couple of others that would have been at some time in Roger' repertoire-"Sam Hall" and "Star of the County Down".
Deftly executed instrumental ballads, jigs and reels comprise ther bulk of this excellent package, though Cameron Smith's "How Many Are The Days" and "Colleen" provide ample opportunity for this gifted writer and singer to prove his worth.
TOP TRACK: "Sam Hall", an original, full-voiced interpretation of the classic hanging ballad.
Greg Quill
- Toronto Star

"Best Bets"

POOR ANGUS: You may have seen this Celtic quartet open for Blue Rodeo on New Year's Eve, or at the Ceilidh House on St. Patrick's Day. Tomorrow, Poor Angus is releasing a new CD with an 8pm concert at Hamilton Place Studio Theatre. The CD, beautifully recorded at Grant Avenue studio, features several new songs by Dundas's Scott Cameron Smith, plus a heartfelt cover of Stan Roger's Fogarty's Cove. Traditional East Coast music at it's best.
-Graham Rockingham - Hamilton Spectator

"Poor Angus; Fisher; & the Proclaimers in Hamilton"

Review by Susan Chapman

Apr. 20th, ‘08

Kudos to the Hamilton Convention Centre for the scheduling of Poor Angus along with Jeremy Fisher and The Proclaimers for the evening of April 19, 2008. Now, whether it was the warm weather, the flowing suds in glasses, or the toe-tapping music of these excellent performers, the fans were more than ready to sing along and raise a glass of good cheer! Poor Angus is a Celtic & East Coast music ensemble. Highland pipes, Irish whistles plus fiddle, guitar, mandolin, bass guitar and four-part vocal harmony culminates in a lively show. The group received the 2007 award for Folk/Traditional Recording of the Year at the Hamilton Music Awards. They are entertaining on stage; and in person…true down-home types.

The group features Brian LeBlanc (multi-talented on vocals, guitar, mandolin, and other instruments), Andrew Bryan (amazing on fiddle and vocals), Scott Cameron Smith (equally talented on vocals and guitar), piper Ross Griffiths and lastly DJ Moons a talented bass and keyboard player. The play list featured traditional rousing folk music, catchy Scottish and Irish numbers, and an acapella performance that left the audience cheering for more. - Ontario Arts Review


Poor Angus-2007
Prime Cuts-2009



Poor Angus is a Hamilton, Ontario, based progressive celtic group. Mixing the music of past and present in exciting and dynamic presentations of modern, traditional and original Scottish, Irish and East Coast themed pieces, this thoroughly contemporary Canadian ensemble endeavors to evade definition in their approach. Formed in 2005, this collection of musicians performs their music in a manner which appeals to both traditional purists, and modern audiences equally. Having shared the stage with the likes of Blue Rodeo, Kathleen Edwards, Matt Mayes, The Proclaimers, Bruce Guthro, Jeremy Fisher, and Nathan Rogers, they are equally at home on the big stage and in intimate pub settings.


Featuring the masterful highland and uilleann piping and tin whistles of Ross Griffiths and profound fiddling of virtuoso Andrew Bryan, this talented group has recently been joined by talented singer-songwriter Joel Guenther. The vocals, bodhran, guitar and mandolin playing of Brian LeBlanc and bass player DJ Moons completes the group. Poor Angus is noted specifically for impressive vocal harmony and this Celtic quintet always gets feet stomping and leaves audiences of all ages roaring for more.

Having released their first album in 2007, which won the Hamilton Music Award for Folk/Traditional Album of the Year, this self-titled work has received airplay internationally. The second album, "Prime Cuts", won the 2009 HMA for Folk/Traditional album of the Year as well.

Poor Angus third album Gathering has been critically acclaimed, and the single Something I Cant See resulted in Poor Angus finishing in the final 4 out of 3000 competing acts in the CBC Searchlight national competition for best band. Gathering is a reflection of the bands musical evolution, featuring nods to the traditional in a more mainstream folk-indie style. Poor Angus "Gathering" has been nominated as the Traditional Album of the Year at the Canadian folk Music Awards (CFMA's).


The combination of Scots, Irish and East Coast music styles in the Poor Angus performance bends every ear to diverse interpretations of Celtic music and ensures that one and all leave the show with a smile on their face and a song in their heart.


Band Members