Smokin Contra Band

Smokin Contra Band

 Halifax, Nova Scotia, CAN

ECMA Nominees 2010! Take half a cup of old-time music, a dollop of dusty back-road blues, a sprinkle of East-Coast kitchen-party choirs, a pinch of rural roots with working-class urban grit, and two heaping tablespoons of resonating vocal veracity. Now sit back, light up, and listen.


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.


"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

Set List

1) Typical 'bluegrass' set-list (Note - sets are between 45min to 1hr each):

Down from the Mountain
Salt Creek -->
The Mare
Birds of Birchtown
Diamonds on the Soles
Dolce Volce
Wayfaring Stranger
Stuck in the Past
Pigs in the City
Je Me Detresse
Orange Blossom Special
E: Shine

2) Full repertoire (Note - Originals denoted by '#', traditionals denoted by '*', and covers denoted by '^'):

Birds of Birchtown #
Boston Boy -> Blackberry blossom *
Can't You Hear me Calling ^
Captain O'Kain *
Cripple Creek *
Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes ^
Dolce Volce #
Down from the Mountain #
Dragonfly #
Durham's Dream #
Fall on my Knees ^
Ginseng Sullivan ^
Good Times #
Hole in my Head #
I Belong to That Band *
I Want You to Know #
I'll Fly Away ^
Jackaroe ^
Je Me Detresse #
Jerusalem Ridge -> Could You Be ^
Lilting Banshee -> Swallow Tail Jig
Lonesome Road ^
Lovers' Waltz ^
Midnight Moonlight ^
Miller -> Drowsy Maggy *
Muriel's Waltz *
Needless to Say #