Smokin Contra Band
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Smokin Contra Band

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Band Folk Bluegrass




"Labour Day Love:: Smokin' Contra Band"

I've been trying to find time to write about these old-timey Halifax pickers, but they keep getting passed over for things the kids might enjoy. That's no one's fault but my own, especially when you consider how talented Smokin' Contra Band really is (and how cool their band name is) and how much energy and love exudes each note they play. Lots of other local records might grab your attention this year, but Slim Pickin's is one of those hidden gems that will surprise a lot of people.

The Halifax based quintet accomplishes three key things - they take you back to simpler times, they make you tap your foot your foot and most importantly for a day like today, they take all your cares away. SCB rotate vocalists and styles (the street corner French of Je Me Detresse is an unexpected gem, as does the smooth fiddle work of the instrumental Sunset Stone), which gives just the right amount of depth to Slim Pickin's, but at the end of the day these pickers are here to make you move, and that's just what they do. Whether it's stomping a whole in the dance floor (Rollin' and Whiskey Copperplate Reel) or a gentle, spiritual sway (Wayfaring Stranger and Dolce Volce).

[September 7, 2009] - Hero Hill

"Alert the Fans"

by Stephen Cooke

CD release shows taking place around town include tonight’s Smokin’ Contra Band show at Bearly’s House of Blues, with special guest Zac Crouse of Caledonia.

The record’s called Slim Pickins, either a tribute to the ornery old character actor or a nod to the fact that there are only nine songs on the disc, but it definitely does not refer to the band’s sound, an enthusiastic blend of traditional styles from bluegrass hoedowns to fiddler Amy Loundner’s Irish and Scottish jigs and reels.

It’s old time music played with a contemporary spirit, and don’t be afraid to step out on the floor and shake the dust off your boots either.

Next Sept. 25 the Smokin’ Contra Band plays a concert at the Rebekah Music Hall in Bear River before heading to Wolfville for the Deep Roots Music Festival the next day. For a generous free sample of tunes, visit

[September 17, 2009] - Chronicle Herald


"Live at the North End Coffee House"
Smokin' Contra Band 5-song EP recorded at ST Studios in Spring 2008

"Slim Pickins"
Smokin' Contra Band's debut LP recorded at CBC Studio H and produced by Glenn Meisner in Spring 2009

"Stuck In The Past"
3 Song EP Recorded in the Echo Chamber and mixed by Charles Austin
Fall 2011



Chapter 1: CONtra

In the winter of 2006, a group of assorted musicians calling themselves Smokin' Contra Band began performing at local "contra" dances - like a square dance, minus the square and plus an East-Coast flare- at least once every month in Nova Scotia. In their contra incarnation, Smokin' Contra Band is a Maritime based traditional quintet that has played venues ranging from barns to birthday banquets and whose rollicking dances have inspired the hip, the holy, and the hardened to hit the dance floor.

With a lively caller and a dedicated following, the band creates a musical canvas where deep-rooted standards get a new flavor, and both young and old converge to see it unfold.

Chapter 2: CONcert

In 2008, Smokin' Contra Band ventured further into old-time repertoire bringing a contemporary city-slicker edge to bluegrass and roots music; their high-spirited set features soulful three-part vocal harmonies inspired by the high lonesome sound and delivered crowded around a single microphone. Their rippin' tunes, foot-stomping sing-alongs and classical fugues blends exploratory and good-times music.

Chapter 3: CONtributors

- Amy Lounder: (Fiddle, Vocals) Having grown up playing classical violin, Amy finally found her calling playing dances in Grey County. After joining a variety of country-folk ensembles, Amy now sings to the tune of a bluegrass fiddle.

- Ben Sichel: (Guitar, Flute, Kazoo, Vocals) Ben played flute in a hip-hop collective and sax in a surf band before discovering his true contra-bluegrass home. In his spare time he teaches high school and bangs on drums with Samba Nova.

- Dave Ron: (Mandolin, Guitar, Banjo, Vocals) Dave has been plucking strings since he was a toddler, beginning with guitar, followed by violin, banjo and mandolin. Though originally from Montreal, he is training to become a full-bred Maritimer, starting with the reels.

- Devin Ryan: (Double Bass): Double-barrelled on bass and vocals, Devin Ryan calls Cape Breton his true home. Trained at St FX, Devin's always got a twinkle in his eye and is ready to rip up any solo cast his way.

- Dan MacCormack: (Banjo): aka. Danjo. A familiar figure in the roots and bluegrass scene in Halifax, Dan's chops encompass the fiddle, mando, guitar, vocals and of course the banjo. We're pleased to finally have a steady banjo player in the band --keeps the bluegrass bumpin' along.