Shearwater Bluegrass Band
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Shearwater Bluegrass Band

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Band Folk Acoustic


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



"Montreal Gazette"

Rating: **** Ex-Montreal acoustic guitar great Dave Clarke (Steel Rail) teams up with fine vocalist and bassist Tammy Fassaert and mandolinist James Whittall for some first-rate bluegrass and contemporary folk. The original material includes three gems co-written by Clarke and lyricist Lucinda Chodan. - Mike Regenstreif, Montreal Gazette. - Mike Regenstreif

"Bluegrass Unlimited"

[April 2009]

Shearwater is an acoustic trio from British Columbia consisting of Tammy Fassaert (bass, guitar, and vocals), Dave Clarke (guitar and vocals), and James Whittall (mandolin). Featured on these recordings is guest fiddler Adrian Dolan. The majority of the dozen selections are originals such as "Broken Ground," "When The Moon Comes Out Tonight," and the instrumental "Trouter." The lead vocals of Tammy Fassaert are particularly effective on "Green-Eyed Lover" and the emotional "The Letter." Shearwater has created a captivating collection of acoustic music that should find new audiences far beyond their Canadian borders. - Short

"Penguin Eggs"

Musical magic happens when you get the right players together, and this has definitely happened in the case of Shearwater.

There are few Canadian guitar flatpickers with the chops and taste of Dave Clarke, the understated Victorian who is widely known for his crosspicking technique. His instrumental Sorrento, named for the hamlet in the Shuswap where he sometimes teaches a bluegrass camp, is alone worth the price of the disc.

But this band is much more than a showcase for Clarke's melodic playing. Tammy Fassaert, a veteran bluegrass bass player who played with Laurie Lewis when she was a mere sprite, is one of the best vocalists in the folk/bluegrass vein. And James Whittall has to be one of the most promising young mandolin pickers in the country.

But what really holds this album together, which also has spectacular fiddling by Adrian Dolan, is the quality of the songs. Most of the tracks are well-crafted originals by Fassaert, Clarke and his wife, Lucinda Chodan. Argyle Street, about lookin' for love in Halifax, has a Celtic feel. Rhythm of a Lonely Heart is a classic tearjearker.

If there's any justice, this Vancouver Island band will soon be known from coast to coast. - Mike Sadava


Shearwater Bluegrass Band - Shearwater (2008)



Roots music with the drive of bluegrass – that’s the sound of Shearwater Bluegrass, a trio from Vancouver Island that blends fine duet harmonies with scorching picking.

While this dynamic trio's performances speak loudly of their commitment to bluegrass, Shearwater's groove pays homage to various acoustic styles, from country and bluegrass to celtic and folk, with even some caribbean flavour thrown for good measure!

Hailing from Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Shearwater Bluegrass is fronted by acclaimed singer-bassist Tammy Fassaert, and features guitarist Dave Clarke and hot young mandolinist James Whittall. Shearwater's signature sound comes from combining refined vocal harmonies with blistering instrumental duets. Shearwater has been making waves since it first started performing on the folk and bluegrass circuit on the West Coast in late 2006, and its reputation is spreading with the release of the group’s first album, Shearwater.

Shearwater features 12 songs that include originals by all three band members, along with covers of tunes by such diverse artists as Leonard Cohen and Island songwriter Gordon Carter. The album, a mix of songs and instrumentals, features a sound that one veteran music writer called "Island drive," referring to the group's laid-back acoustic sensibility and highly charged playing.

Tammy Fassaert
A mainstay of the west coast acoustic music scene, Tammy Fassaert is an accomplished singer, bassist and instructor who has performed with such bluegrass luminaries as Laurie Lewis, John Reischman, Sally Van Meter and Scott Nygaard. She grew up listening to her father playing baroque and Dixieland music on his trumpet, and her mother singing “pops” while hosting their frequent cocktail parties in the 1960s. How she ended up choosing country and bluegrass remains a mystery to her family. Her strong vocals have been described as "the sound of wood smoke and clear mountain streams." Tammy has released two well-received albums, Just Passin' Through (1994) and Corner of My Eye (2000). For more about Tammy, visit her at

Dave Clarke
Dave Clarke has been called "one of Canada's finest acoustic guitarists" by music critics. Catapulted into a lifelong passion for music during a Beatles concert in Montreal when he was 10, Dave settled on guitar as his instrument after hearing recordings by Robert Johnson and Mississippi John Hurt. His musical pedigree includes work with the Montreal folkgrass trio Steel Rail and Canadian folk singer-songwriter David Francey, His two solo releases, Guitar Songs (2002) and Reunion (2007), reflect his influences in bluegrass, Celtic music and folk. Dave tours, teaches and produces from his home base in Victoria. For more about Dave, visit him at

James Whittall
James Whittall is one of the most talented and enthusiastic young mandolin players in Canada. A bright light in the Victoria music scene, he brings scary intensity, remarkable tone, and boundless joy to traditional bluegrass and newgrass. He was part of the Victoria-based Lost Connection and co-led the Rock Island Ramblers with bassist Oliver Swain. He teaches mandolin and bluegrass guitar. a

Tammy, Dave and James had crossed paths musically before 2006 but it wasn't until they all taught at the renowned bluegrass camp in Sorrento in the Shuswap region of B.C. that they played together. Tammy and Dave first met in Montreal in the 1990s, when a cross-Canada tour brought Tammy to the legendary Yellow Door coffee house. But they didn't meet again until Dave moved to Vancouver Island in 2005.

In the meantime, Dave had been blown away by a hot young mandolin player he saw performing with the Rock Island Ramblers in Spinnaker's Brew Pub. He wondered what would happen if Tammy and James played together. "I remember thinking “The two best bluegrass musicians on the Island have never played together," he says now. So the three planned a jam session in neutral territory: Nanaimo, half-way between Victoria and Comox. And the musical chemistry was so good that they decided to make their debut as a band at the August 2006 edition of the Sorrento camp, where all three were teaching. The result was Shearwater Bluegrass, named for an ocean bird best known for its soaring flight patterns and a reflection of the band's roots on Vancouver Island.

Since then, the group has performed at the Filberg Festival, the Coombs Bluegrass Festival, Butchart Gardens and the Sooke River Bluegrass Festival, as well as several folk concert series. Shearwater's 2008 summer lineup includes performances at the Canada Day festivities in Comox, the Vancouver Island Folk Festival in Courtenay and the Brentwood Bay summer concert series.