The Dead South
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The Dead South

Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | INDIE | AFM

Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Folk Bluegrass





What if I were to tell that the debut The Ocean Went Mad and We Were To Blame by The Dead South has banjo on every song? You might say I'm not sure if I can handle that much banjo. Well think again because you will not only handle it but most likely you will enjoy it. Although it is a well-known fact that I have a fond affection for the instrument that isn't the only draw for this recently formed band. Over the course of the five songs the band reminded of an alternative band from the 90’s like Pearl Jam attempting to play bluegrass and pulling it off way above people’s expectations. While some of the songs such as “The Dirty Juice” are straight up knee slapping hoedown that are a bluegrass fan’s wet dream they also have songs such as “Fruit and Salad” which feel more like a folk song tinged with a bit of alternative rock from the 90’s. If you omitted the banjo in a couple of the songs and the chords were strummed slightly you might be able to get away with calling this Indie rock but why bother.

The album starts with “Banjo Odyssey,” which is an upbeat song that revolves around a steady kick drum, twirling banjo and acoustic guitars but is inspired by the vocal performance. The singer has this old country raspy voice that sounds appropriate for the music. I was a fan of the well- timed and placed vocal dubs and harmonies. The song breaks down around the two-minute mark where we are introduced to the swooning cello as the singer starts talking and slowly transforms into multiple vocal harmonies that cross and weave as they build. The Dead South is able to make a nice transition back into the main riff before the song ends. I don’t want too talk too much more about the banjo but it has to be mentioned when talking about “Wishing Well.” It really drives the song on this one as the banjoist plays it like one might play a flamenco style song and then changes things up to a more traditional picking style. The album closes with “Honey You” that is a driving force of energy and one of the highlights. As the song progresses it changes quite frequently. Before most songs even get going they are already having a breakdown at the 45-second mark.

This is an impressive debut from The Dead South. Some songs are solid; others are good and they have a lot of time ahead of them to start refining their sound. - The Equal Ground

"The Dead South - The Ocean Went Mad And We Were To Blame"

The Dead South. The name alone brings some pretty strong ideas of what you might be in for when you take a listen to this Regina based folk band. Tales of women, drinking and hell, exactly what you'd expect from some rough and tough southern men, except these guys are from Saskatchewan. Don't let that make you think any less of The Dead South though, they've got a killer set of songs, and a live show to boot that makes most seem boring and stand still.

For such a rather untraditional four piece, there's no bass or percussion for the most part, The Dead South have created an incredibly full and large sound. A lot of this comes from the very talented vocal work of lead man Nate Hilts. Capturing a bit of the southern charm made famous by the likes of Johnny Cash, Hilts puts on a performance that becomes the defining sound of The Dead South. Combined with the constant and consistent banjo picking from Colton Crawford, The Dead South put together a southern folk sound unique to the bleak southern prairies.

The album itself is a sampling of some of the bands original material. The thing that always sticks out with The Dead South, is the level of musicianship that the band displays. Because of the simplicity of the band, every note, every strum, every pick, every lyric is clear and stands out. There isn't any loud drums to hide behind, and it means that each member must be on top of their game to get the best out of each song, and with The Dead South, they've pulled it off beautifully. The addition of the cello from Danny Kenyon adds a wealth of rich low end, which would have been sorely missed if it wasn't there. The final key to the sound of The Dead South comes from Scott Pringle. Pringle adds everything from backup guitar and backup vocals, to mandolin, each part accenting Hilts' guitar and vocals.

The Dead South have been rising in popularity and success over the past year, and this EP release confirms that it was for a good reason. Expect to hear even more of the band as they begin touring and playing large venues and festivals in the coming year. We here at RageRegina look forward to watching the success of The Dead South grow. - Rage Regina

"Review: The Dead South – The Ocean Went Mad And We Were To Blame"

A relatively new group – the current line-up have only been together since September 2012 – The Dead South sound like they’ve been playing together for years. The Saskatchewan four-piece play a resolute form of stringband music, which harks back to the banjo propelled mountain music of the Appalachians, but comes with hard modern edge. Indeed, put them on a bill with Old Crow Medicine Show or the Mumfords and they wouldn’t sound out of place (or time).

“The Ocean Went Mad And We Were To Blame” is their debut release, a five-track EP that plays to all their strengths. Lead vocalist, Nate Hilts, sings with a voice hewn straight from the rock face and guitars, banjo and mandolin are feverously picked as if each song might be their last. The sound is underpinned by Danny Kenyon’s melancholy cello, adding both an ominous depth and an unforeseen experimental aspect to their sound.

The EP begins strongly with “Banjo Odyssey”, its innocent, old timey title disguising a song of sexual shenanigans involving cousin-lovin’ and plenty of intimidation and menace. It makes a compelling opening statement, and is followed by the equally effective “Wishing Well”, where the combination of cello and Colton Crawford’s looped banjo runs carry the dark narrative. Final cut “Honey You” is positively pop by comparison, and shows an altogether lighter side to a group who deserve all the success that comes their way. I’d love to see them in the UK… - Leicester Bangs

"The Dead South - Good Company Review"

Last year The Dead South released The Ocean Went Mad and We Were to Blame and less than a year later they are back with a thirteen-song album entitled Good Company that is very much an extension of the sound they brought to us on their first release. With this release the band decided to record live rather than track by track in order to give an idea of what their energy is like when you see them in concert. I’m happy to report that I think that they achieved their goals as the music feels organic and it is as if the band is playing in the same room you are in. The Dead South return with a lot of the elements that made their debut a success.

Elements such as the wailing banjo, walking bass lines and exuberant vocal melodies are in full effect as they seamlessly combine genres such as bluegrass, folk and rock.

The album as a whole is fluid and cohesive. They stay with the realm of the sound they have created but throw in enough deviation to make things interesting. It very much feels like an album that was thoroughly thought out in terms of flow and energy. They speed things up then slow it down and introduce melancholy and all around send you through a rollercoaster of different emotions that feel interconnected.

The album opens with a fast finger picking ditty “Long Gone.” I enjoyed all the instrumentation on the track but the banjo player’s skills on this song are on the verge of ridiculous. It’s hard to believe he can keep up that pace for the whole duration of the song. Technical ability aside it is full of catchy melodies, a strong vocal performance and it is a knee slapping good time.

A slight deviation for the band is the quite enjoyable “In Hell I'll Be in Good Company.” The song is one of the slower paced tunes on the album but was a nice breather. One of the highlights amongst the batch is “The Dead South,” which showcases the band delivering some of their best vocal harmonies. I especially enjoyed the breakdown with the vocals where it felt like a mix between a sea shanty and a drinking song.

It’s obvious that The Dead South are an ambitious band and that their debut was just the band getting warmed up. Good Company is an accomplished album that confirms the band is a formidable force that is here to stay. - The Equal Ground

"Album Reviews - Good Company"

The Dead South respect the past, but they are not beholden to it. Good Company, the Regina band’s debut full-length album, is heavily influenced by Appalachian folk and Kentucky bluegrass, but it is more than simply a throwback.

Good Company has all of the marks of a solid folk record. There are frantic acoustic guitar chords, roiling banjo licks, and a smattering of bright mandolin parts. Frontman Nate Hilts’ voice has the timeless quality of a dusty bottle of bourbon; his bandmates’ smooth harmonies are a pleasing counterpoint to his nasal rasp. But Good Company also includes some sonic novelties.

Instead of playing upright bass, Daniel Kenyon fills out the bottom end with his cello. This gives the Dead South access to a range of tones most folk revivalists simply can’t reproduce. On some songs, like the ominous “Ballad for Janoski,” Kenyon bows his instrument, adding rich new textures to the plodding bass line. When the tempos pick up, like on the rollicking “That Bastard Son,” he switches to a lighthearted plucking technique, driving the band forward with each note.

Like many debuts, Good Company captures a period of rapid growth and evolution. There are no objectively bad songs, but some are clearly better than others. The Dead South are competent when tackling straightforward love songs, road songs, and drinking songs, and shine when taking on more innovative material. The best cuts blur the line between past and present: “Achilles” infuses an unremarkable folk arrangement with the abstract lyrics common to pop or rock and roll, and “Deep When The River’s High” juxtaposes folk instrumentation with an unconventional structure.

Good Company is also riddled with amusing asides, a Dead South staple. Just as their first EP featured a tongue-in-cheek ode to sweet cousin lovin’, the new album includes a cheerful parody of the hyper-masculine (“With a chew in my lip / Now that’s the manly way”).

For a young band, Good Company is an impressive achievement. But more than anything else, its best moments hint at the Dead South’s ability to produce more great music in the years to come. - The Verb


The Ocean Went Mad and We Were to Blame EP

Good Company LP



The Dead South is a four-piece acoustic ensemble based in Regina, Saskatchewan. With Nate Hilts' gritty vocals and aggressive guitar strumming, Scott Pringle's soaring harmonies and mandolin chops, Colton Crawford's blazing banjo licks and steady kick drum, and Danny Kenyon's prominent cello melodies, The Dead South blends elements of folk, bluegrass, classical, and rock which results in a unique, modern, and authentic blend of boot-stompin' acoustic music.

The Dead South has been hard at work since they formed as a band, having played several notable shows, some of which include: showcasing at Canadian Music Week 2014, Regina Folk Festival, Ness Creek Music Festival, Gateway Music Festival, Juno Fest 2013 - 2014, Grey Cup Festival 2013 where they opened for Serena Ryder, Saskatchewan Party Premier's Dinner, The Works Art and Design Festival, All Folk'd Up Festival, Frontier Days Festival, Long Days Night Festival, Picker's Cup Festival and the Cathedral Village Arts Festival. 

On top of playing shows, The Dead South released an EP in June 2013 titled The Ocean Went Mad and We Were to Blame. Following the success of their debut release, The Dead South returned to the studio and recorded their first full-length album, titled Good Company, which was released in April 2014 to a capacity crowd at local venue, The Owl. Shortly after the release of Good Company, The Dead South showcased at Canadian Music Week in Toronto where they caught the attention of Jรถrg Tresp of Devil Duck Records (based out of Hamburg, Germany). He immediately signed the band, released the album in Europe, and has booked the band for numerous overseas tours. 

Earlier in 2014, The Dead South entered the 104.9FM The Wolf Queen City Rocks battle of the bands competition where they won, coming  out ahead of 24 other bands. Soon afterwards, they were selected to represent Saskatchewan in the nationwide CBC Searchlight competition for Canada's best new artist. They subsequently received local and national recognition along with airplay on 104.9FM The Wolf , CBC Radio 2 and several other radio stations, some of which include CJTR Regina Community Radio, CFCR Saskatoon Community Radio, and CBC Radio 1 in Saskatchewan. 

The Dead South has been interviewed and featured in many new newspapers across the province, some of which include the Leader Post, The Verb, Metro, Bridges, and QC. They have been on Global TV and CTV several times promoting their music and shows. The band was also on the cover of City Slicker, a Regina magazine, which featured a band profile after having won Queen City Rocks. 

Since the inception of the band, The Dead South has continually pushed the energy of their live shows, as well as pushed what is possible between four ordinary acoustic instruments. The unique abilities and viewpoints of each band member make The Dead South an impossible band to duplicate, and a fixture of the Regina music scene that will not soon be leaving. 

The Dead South is: Nate Hilts, Scott Pringle, Colton Crawford, Danny Kenyon

Band Members