Tea For The Voyage
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Tea For The Voyage


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"Boy band set to ska: Tea For The Voyage releases first CD, hits area stages"

What do you get when you cross eight young musicians for a flair for fusion? More upbeat ska and surefire fun than you can shake, well, four horns at.
Made up of an all-male jambalaya of young-up-and-comers, Tea For The Voyage has been practicing in a basement and popping up sporadically in and around Kingston since 2003. Originally formed by guitar player Alec Donaldson and bassist Garett Barr, the band always had ska in mind for the direction their music would travel.
The boys’ initial concept for their band was to do mostly Sublime cover songs.
Knowing a bass and guitar made not a band, the duo began looking around for other players to fill out their group. When it came to finding someone to keep a steady beat, they didn’t have to look too far.
“We overheard Sean playing in his bedroom and we were like ‘Let’s get him!” Barr recalls. Sean, one of the three Donaldson brothers in the band, is an accomplished drummer. In 2003, he won the World Solo Juvenile Snare Drum Competition and his highland snare drumming is one of the best in town.
“Sean was a snare drummer, but he’d never really played kit,” says Alec. “And then he got an electric [drum kit] for Christmas…”
“And I was rockin’ out one day…” says Sean. “And we were like ‘OK! We can use Sean!” finishes Alec.
The dynamic between these three founding members is obvious. They speak of those first days with rekindled excitement, finishing each other’s sentences and laughing at their early misfortunes.
Finding Sean may have been easy, but it took the next two years to compose the group that stands today as Tea For The Voyage.
The group’s vocalist, Brett McDonald, was chosen after two months of auditions – surprising, considering Brett didn’t even know what ska was when he arrived for his audition.
But what every good ska band requires is a front man with charisma, energy and, above all else, an unmistakable voice that can carry itself over an eight-piece band. That is precisely what The Voyage got in McDonald.
Though McDonald has been a part of the Cantabile Choir, his vocal training doesn’t go any further. With that training and pure tone, as well as a sound that can be described as Blind Melon meets Sinatra meets Rise Against, Brett’s near-croon style is unique and sing-along inspiring.
Still lacking punch and pizzazz, the boys added horns to the band one by one, starting with trombonist Chris Sandiford who played trombone at Frontenac Secondary School in the jazz band.
“We actually originally just wanted Chris to sing one song with us, because we knew that he knew the words, and we figured he could throw the Jamaican accent – because he can turn one on really easily – but then we were like ‘Oh, you know an instrument! Even better! We’ll just have you play that!” Barr exclaims.
With one horn amongst them, the next three members fell into the band almost by fate. Taylor, the oldest Donaldson brother, who has bachelor of music in trombone performance from Queen’s University, was next to join. A master of many instruments, Taylor has a passion for performance. He is a well known bagpiper throughout the area, and has won numerous awards for his piping skill. But his primary instruments take the back seat for his ride in The Voyage, where he applies his diverse influences from Dixieland to reggae, and big band to classical on both alto and tenor saxophone.
During the summer of 2006, Peter McNichol and Dave Perreault began playing with the group now and then on trumpet and baritone sax respectively, and, but for one year, Tea For The Voyage has been the eight piece ensemble they are now. Barr recalls the addition of McNichol and Perreault as being inspired by Taylor, who employs an old-school jazz-style collaborative practice that states if you need a musician, you juts find one.
“It just kind of happened, actually,” Barr says. “We didn’t really think at all. I think it came down to Taylor saying “Hey, if you need a trumpet player on this one single part in the song, let’s get a trumpet player in. It just happened.”
Finally the band was becoming what the original duo had envisioned.
“Last year, Garett and I wanted to record a CD before the end of the summer, but then we ran out of time, and you guys were at the fort,” Alec says, referring to Dave and Taylor’s time in the Fort Henry Guard.
In December, the boys cut a demo, just to have something to show until they could later record. The album they now are promoting, their first full-length, was more or less a year in the making. Compromised of all original music, it is a roller-coaster of style and technique. Employing instruments from the banjo to the “bird call” (brought in by Perreault on The Manatoss), their album is one the boys stand behind.
When asked who writes the music, the boys all pause, and look at one another.
“It’s a team effort,” says Alec, taking the role of band leader, which he seems to do innately. “Garett generally handles the lyrics.”
The band’s lyrics are reflective of their musical styling: nearly impossible to categorize. While some tracks drip with political poetry, which the whole band credits to Barr, the album is peppered with tracks that speak volumes about the boys’ true passion and raison d^etre: the music.
Tracks like Rooftop Music and Music Found Me discuss the outlet that music has become for each member, and how grooving to the tunes does more for them than inspire awkward teenage dance.
The chatter-making track The Manatoss is a nearly epic composition, reminiscent of Hans Zimmer or even John Williams, thanks to Sandiford’s influence and creativity.
But the group all seem to agree – the track that is mot significant to them, that says the most about them and their values, is Support Your Scene.
“The most important song might be Support Your Scene, especially with us, and some of the gigs we have played,” says McDonald of the song’s depiction of the frequnelty poorly attended Kingston gig. The track is written, the boys said, not to attack the community for being unsupportive, but rather to inspire support.
They’re noble aspirations for a group composed of members who are, for the most part, still in school.
“We’re not playing with the sole purpose of being signed We’re playing our stuff, and writing our stuff because we like it. If we wanted to get signed, we wouldn’t write The Manatoss,” says Alec. All the boys nod and speak out in agreement.
“I don’t even know if we really have, like, an ultimate super-aim,” says Barr.
“I think our whole vision,” says Taylor, “and this sounds pretentious and lame to say this, but, it is just more about the music than trying to make it big.”
Perhaps it is that passion, that vision, that makes Tea For The Voyage as addictive as they are. - The Kingston Whig-Standard (Kingston, ON)

"Tea For The Voyage makes trip to Queen Street Church"

The Apple Crisp Music Series continues 7-10 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 11 at the Queen Street United Church. This week’s featured musical acts include Tea For The Voyage, The Backyard Sex Band and D.J. Haircut.
Local band Tea For The Voyage formed in 2003 as a reggae rhythm section consisting of guitar, bass, drums and vocals and since have slowly added additional members.
Current members include Garett barr (bass); Alec Donaldson (guitar); Sean Donaldson (drums); Taylor Donaldson (alto and tenor saxophones, clarinet, flute); Brett McDonald (vocals); Pete McNichol (trumpet); Dave Perreault (tenor and baritone sax, fife, vocals); Chris Sandiford (trombone). Everyone in the band sings backup vocals.
This summer has been eventful for this Kingston-based band. They’ve ventured out on their first tour playing over 25 gigs over four months and they recorded and released their first professionally recorded debut full-length album.
Previously the band has released three self-recorded demos. Alec says, “We’re looking at this as the first serious project we’ve taken on.”
Tea For The Voyage members all went to highschool in Kingston and the band evolved from the highschool coffee-house scene. Since then the band has worked with an assortment of promoters and organizations who work to benefit local music and entertainment.
Alec states “people like Lesley Kimble from the city of Kingston were responsible for helping us get our name out in Kingston, providing us with many large shows for various city events. Rogers James, Marcus Garniss from Kingston Punk Productions, Chris at Time To Laugh Comedy Club and Gary Mullen from Renaissance Music were all vital in helping us to increase our opportunities locally.
“Dave Daw at Summit Sound Recording Studio and Larry Stafford of Sound Design have also helped to make sure our sound was as perfect as possible.”
Cover is $5 at the door. Admission is free for Frosh and OPRIG members.
Details: www.applecrisp.ca and www.myspace.com/teaforthevoyage.
- Kingston This Week (Kingston, ON)

"Cette Semaine on Decouvre: Tea For The Voyage"

by Julien

La formation TEA FOR THE VOYAGE débarque directement de Kingston Ontario avec un son ska, reggae et funk qui saura en accrocher plus d’un. Leur premier album éponyme a été lancé de manière indépendante au mois de juin et reçoit depuis ce temps de nombreuses critiques positives des gens de la scène. Le groupe se démarque avec un talent inouï au niveau de leurs instruments. Au lieu de tout simplement nous pondre les bons vieux trois accords, ils savent y placer de bons solos très entraînants, que ce soit à la trompette, trombone ou encore saxophone. On parle d’un band qui a l’air d’avoir quelques années d’expérience sous la cravate même s’ils en sont à leur premier opus. - Punk Me Up.com

"Album Critique"

by Valerie Desnoyers

Dès la première écoute, c'est le coup de foudre. Honnêtement, c'est surprenant qu'ils ne soient pas déjà sur une étiquette de disque car ce groupe est doté de talents exceptionnels. La recette a tout ce qu'il faut pour conquérir des adeptes et assurer le succès de TEA FOR THE VOYAGE. Ce qui saute aux oreilles et nous marque le plus lorsqu'on l'écoute pour la première fois c'est la voix mélodieuse de Brett qui ne va pas sans nous rappeler celle de Chuck des MAD CADDIES. Rassurez-vous, c'est toutefois suffisamment différent pour nous permettre de passer par-dessus et être frappé pas les lignes de basse incroyables de Garett. Ils ont un style bien personnel qui saura rejoindre les amateurs de ska les plus purs.

Le groupe dose savamment le mélange de musique plus traditionnelle comme sur Rooftop Music et Better Stop avec le ska plus de la nouvelle école et des pièces comme Toast ou plus jazz comme The Butter Chicken Is A Must sans oublier les harmonies renversantes sur Support Your Scene. Parlons de cette chanson-là justement qui exprime totalement la réalité du manque de soutien de la scène locale par le public et qui souligne l'importance et la différence que les gens peuvent faire en allant voir des spectacles. Un autre groupe issu de la riche scène ska ontarienne et qui risque d'être là pour un bon moment car ils ne font pas les choses à moitié. On perçoit rapidement l'immense travail derrière les pièces méticuleusement travaillées et retouchées, le son est parfait! On peut dire que TEA FOR THE VOYAGE gagne beaucoup de points avec leur section de cuivres qui comprend un saxophone alto, barriton et tenor, de la clarinette, de la flûte, du trombone sans oublier la trompette. Je soupçonne ceux-ci d'avoir un long bagage d'expérience voir une formation classique peut-être même, car la place qui leur est accordée au sein du groupe est majeure. Ce ne sont pas que de petits extraits par-ci par-là pour enrichir le son mais plutôt une base importante de toute la construction de chaque composition. Le défi est relevé avec succès et il n'y en a jamais trop!

Sans oublier le fait que TEA FOR THE VOYAGE sont extrêmement professionnels et gentils, leur seul défaut étant de ne pas venir d'ici!

+: Album extrêmement riche et varié.
-: Certaines pièces non traditionnelles sont peut-être moins accessibles. - Punk Me Up.com

"A new spark…super fired up!"

"There is something else that has got me fired up. On my way back from Ottawa, I stopped by a town callled Kingston…about 3 hours east of Toronto. Normally, my family and I just cruise down the 401 highway and stop at the gas station/restaurants that are nearby. Not this time. For some reason, we stopped by Kingston and spent a good amount of time enjoying dinner and strolling through a part of the city. It was Canada Day (July 1st) and there were a number of bands playing. We stumbled upon an 8 piece ska band called Tea for the Voyage. These guys are locals and I was completely knocked out by their sound. Excellent musicians and the freakin’ catchiest tunes. The lead singer looks a little like Terry Hall (from the Specials).
So, I am sitting listening to this band and realizing that I’ve discovered something remarkable. It brought me right back to when I worked in the music business. I resolved right there and then to put them on the evolutions dvd. After the set I met Garett (the base player and the guy that writes the lyrics). I explained that CW was 100% skateboarding, but the music was so good, that I needed to get them on the Evolutions DVD. He was gracious enough to offer me a cd and we played it onthe way back to Toronto.
Garett contacted me soon after and I managed to see the band last night in Toronto. It was their first ever appearance in Toronto and they really tore it up. There is no question these guys deserve to have their talents recogized and I am going to do everything in my power to expose them to the world. I have no financial stake in this - it’s just the joy of sharing a great experience that compels me.
And that, I think is at the nexus of why skateboarding is changing. There is such joy and good times when it comes to longboarding, slalom, ditches etc that you feel compelled to spread the word.
You’ll hear their terrific song “Toast” in about 6 weeks on the DVD…but don’t wait that long…visit their website right now www.teaforthevoyage.com."

Copy available at: http://www.silverfishlongboarding.com/option,com_jd-wp/Itemid,76/ - www.concretewavemagazine.com (Toronto, ON)

"Ska Band takes fans on fun-filled Voyage"

Tea For The Voyage is a band tailor-made for these doldrums days. Their cheery ska beat makes everyone who hears it want to get up and dance, while the zany lyrics from their new CD Gimme Dem Beets are good for a chuckle or two.
The band is holding a CD release party Sunday at the Time to Laugh Comedy Club. Tea For The Voyage is a sextet, half of which is made up of the brothers Donaldson: Alec on guitar, violin and cello, Sean on drums; and Taylor on trombone, sax and flute. The other members are bassist Garett Barr who writes most of the lyrics; trumpeter Pete McNichol; and sax player Dave Perreault who also writes some lyrics. Most of the band also sings.
Taylor Donaldson says he’s thankful to be playing brass instruments as that keeps his mouth occupied and prevents him from laughing at some of the funny lyrics on the CD.
“It was hard not to laugh when we were recording Vindaloo Sandwich,” he said, speaking about the ditty in which the singer is scouring his fridge for ingredients to make a spicy Indian dish known as vindaloo.
Then there are songs like Nuclear Fishin’ in which all kinds of strange creatures are found on a fishing trip; Monster Friend about a beast that puts a crimp on the courtship of a young lady; and (There’s A) Wolf in the Dumbwaiter, about a villainous wolf who eats everyone who gets near it.
“We’re all big Frank Zappa fans,” says Taylor Donaldson, of the late rocker who became famous in the 1960s for outlandish songs like Weasels Ripped My Flesh and Burnt Weeny Sandwich. “There is a tradition in ska of having a whimsical storytelling nature. The lyrics are often not about conventional things.”
The band was started in 2004 as a trio with the two other Donaldson brothers and Barr. Taylor was recruited shortly thereafter and slowly a horn section filled out the band
which released its first, self-titled CD in June 2007.
When ex-lead singer Brett McDonald left the band, the others took turns doing the lead vocals. The ages in the band range from 19 to 25.
“The first CD had more serious songs in that it dealt with specific topics,” says Donaldson. “This one is more fun, although the song Stand Up Tall is about taking pride in Canadian identity and culture.
“I took a course on Canadian music once and we spent half to three quarters of the course trying to figure out what Canadian music was.”
Although Nuclear Fishin’ is played for laughs, the song also has a serious side. “It addresses the issue of genetically modified food and cloning,” says Donaldson.
In their live shows, Tea For the Voyage aren’t always playing for yuks.
“We do play the traditional ska,” says Taylor Donaldson. “If we just came right out and started with our original stuff, the audience would think we were a bit nuts.”
The trombonist says the band’s style of ska is more of the traditional variety, “although to really do that we’d have to have a larger horn section,” Taylor Donaldson says.
“Someone in the band pointed out to me that you can hear ska in toothpaste commercials or on the
cartoon network so it has permeated its way into our culture.”
Taylor Donaldson also plays trombone in BrassWerks, the local chamber brass and percussion ensemble that plays classical and contemporary music.
“Their [BrassWerks’] music is fun and they have a lot of fun and so do we in Tea For the Voyage,” he
says. “And the horn section writing is the same for both.”
And where did the name for the band come from?
“There were two CDs sitting on a table,” says Taylor Donaldson.
“One was Cat Stevens’ Tea For The Tillerman and the other was Mozart’s Magnificent Voyage.
“So we just combine the two titles.”
- Kingston Whig Standard


Gimme Dem Beets!!! - 2009 full-length album (Independent)
Tea For The Voyage - 2007 full-length album (Independent)
TURBO ZOMBIE UPPERCUTS - 2007 Compilation (Nanobot Recording Co-Op)
Friends of Skeleton Park - 2007 Compilation (Skeleto
n Park Music Festival)

The "Tea For The Voyage" album currently receives airplay throughout Canada, and recently charted #8 on the CHMA 106.9MHz - Sackville College Radio Chart, #29 on the CIUT 89.5 MHz - Toronto College Radio chart, and #30 on the CJAM 91.5 MHz - Windsor College Radio chart.

The track "Toast" appeared on Concrete Wave Magazine�s 2007 promotional DVD �Evolutions."



Tea For The Voyage formed in 2004 as a small ska and reggae trio (guitar, bass and drums) and added a three-piece horn section in 2007.

The band's debut self-titled album was independently released in June of 2007 and has received critical acclaim in Ontario and the East Coast, topping several college radio charts. The album has been noted for its combination of reggae, rocksteady, ska (traditional, two-tone and third-wave), funk, punk, dixieland and classical music. Tea has just finished a second album, entitled "Gimme Dem Beets!" which will be released in March 2009. The band is currently in the process of organizing a three-week tour of Western Canada in July of this year to promote the new CD.

Tea For The Voyage has performed throughout Ontario and Quebec, received endorsement from international skateboard magazine Concrete Wave, and played several university and college events. We have also recently performed at a variety of festivals, such as the Ottawa Ska Fest, Sound of Music (Burlington), Skeleton Park Music Festival (Kingston) and the Kingston Chili Fest.

The band has also shared the stage with a variety of well-known acts such as The Planet Smashers (STOMP), Chris Murray (Unstrictly Roots), GrimSkunk (Indica) Big D & The Kids Table (STOMP), The Flatliners (Fat Wreck), The Souljazz Orchestra (Do Right!) and The Johnstones (STOMP).