The Duhks
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The Duhks

| INDIE | AFM

| INDIE | AFM
Band Folk Acoustic

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Aug
02
The Duhks @ Hygienic Art

New London, Connecticut, United States

New London, Connecticut, United States

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


"Duhks unlimited, Local folkies break into the big time, by John Kendle, Jan 29, 2004"


Stupid puns practically roll off the tongue when considering a story about The Duhks.

Lines about apples not falling far from trees; chips off old blocks; if it walks like a folkie and it talks like a folkie, then it must be a folkie.

But let's tell it straight, shall we?

The Duhks is a Winnipeg-based group of five twentysomethings who live and breathe in the world of traditional folk, bluegrass and Celtic music. They infuse these roots with a go-for-it attitude borrowed straight from rock'n'roll; they add a healthy dollop of jazz and Latin percussion, giving their music an added kick; and they deliver it all with an infectious presence that can't help but get yer feet moving.

Leonard Podolak is the group's leader. At 28, he's already a seasoned veteran of the world folk performance ( he led Scruj MacDuhk for years), and he's a guy whose very being is rooted in folk music.

Leonard's dad is Mitch Podolak, founder of the Winnipeg Folk Festival, so Leonard grew up in a world full of music.

He's literally been bounced on the knees of more great musicians than most of us will ever see or hear.

Now Leonard and his bandmates - vocalist Jessica Havey, fiddler Tania Elizabeth, guitarist Jordan McConnell and percussionist Scott Senior - have landed a recording contract with Sugar Hill Records, one of the three or four most important and influential folk/roots labels in the world.

The deal was officially signed last Friday, just in time for one of The Duhks' rare Winnipeg performances, a show this weekend at the West End Cultural with The Mammals (a young group led by Pete Seeger's grandson).

Naturally an exuberant and enthousiastic person, Podolak is still fairly bursting as he tells the story of landing a deal with Sugar Hill. What it boils down to, though, is that he, The Duhks and their manager, Mort Goss, were savy enough to be in the right places at the right people.

At one point, three other major Amercian roots labels were chasing the band. So The Duhks are indeed for real.

And Leonard still has to pinch himself every day.

"I love it ... I can't believe it ... It's sort of a cliche, but I simply can't imagine that this is my job" he says. "It's funny. I loved this music growing up, it was all round me. Some of the people who are signed to Sugar Hill are people whose records have always been in my house."

"they're going to release the Your Daughters and Your Sons album (their 2002 indie disc) first. The artwork and the master tapes are already in the mail. Then we're going to record in November, it looks like", he says.

"We're already working on new stuff and there will be a lot of new stuff in the show. In the last month we've been rehearsing three-to-five times a week and I just can't believe some of the stuff I'm hearing. I can't wait to play it live."
And we can't to hear it. For the next 20 years or so. - UP TOWN Magazine


"Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park, by Philip Booth, March 31, 2004"


... The sleeper act of the weekend was the Duhks, a group of extraordinary young musicians and singers from the Canadian prairie land of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The band, signed to Sugar Hill shortly after its appearance at last year's Springfest, applied dead-on vocal harmonies and virtuosic work Canadian jigs. The chant-like "True Religion," Paul Simon's "Me and Julio Latin-rooted percussion of Rodrigo Munoz, who plays, and sits on, a Cajon, a boxlike percussion instrument from Peru ... - Billboard.com


"Born to fun, The buoyant Duhks were hatched for stardom, by Marcianne Miller, March 17, 2004"


In my most earnest National Enquirer mode, I try to get cheerful Candian band The Duhks to say something nasty about authority, music teachers, life in general or another Duhk in particular.
Alas, the luck of the irish isn't with me. Because everyone in this young, technically adept celt-folk quintet loves, well, everything.
They're no less than rhaspsodic about their own music- a mix of old-time Appalachian/Celtic accented with lilts of Quebecois and Afro-Cuban styles, and stampled with soaring harmonies and an unfailingly jolly spirit.
They're also completely enamored of one another - "genius, " "brillant" and "amazing" were among the accolades shouted out during my recent, en masse phone interview with the band.
And they "love, lovelove" Asheville, where they promise "magical, musical bliss" tonight when they headline Joack of the Wood.
Oh, and these cheery 20-somethings even enthusiastically love parents. Well, why not? Most band members were raised in musical homes - a payoff spendidly realized on their just-released first CD Your Daughters and Yours Sons.
Having influential roots-music label Suagr Hill Records put out your debut is hardly a shabby start for an 18-month-old group based way up north in Winnipeg, a city on the plains of Manitoba that boasts " the windest downtown corner on the continent."
These days, though, The Duhks are on the road most of the time, crisscrossing Canada and the U.S. in their dilapdated brown van - one-night stands here, festival stints there, a moment stolen now and then to work out a new song. During our long long-distance breakfast interview, they pass their single cell phone around like a microphone.
"The band has never, though, The Duhks has never been tighter," enthuses percussionist Scott Senior, still stoked from The Duhks' recent weekend at Festival du Bois in British Columbia.
"Morale," he reports, " is really high, our songwritting is mature, and we're ready for the rest of our lifetime of playing. Pass the salt, please."
Band founder Leonard Podolak - "the most crazy genius banjo player," according to Duhks fiddler Tania Elizabeth - is already a veteran of the Celt-folk scene. (The Duhks take their oddly appealing name from that of his former band, Scruj MacDuhk.) And even though he grew up among giants (parents Mitch and Ava Podolak founded the 31-year-old Winnipeg Folk Festival), he didn't find his own "folkiness" till he was 16, after having forsalken Mom's choice of the piano for Dad's banjo.
Yet within three years, the exuberant Podolak was mesmerizing audiences with his hybird of maniacal picking and mellow vocals.
Meanwhile, guitarist Jordan McConnell admits he's "the quiet, behind the scenes guy." ("He's stable rhythmically and personally," explains Elizabeth.) Still, as a 5-year-old, he loudly rejected his own mother's push toward the piano, reported claiming that the instrument was "for girls" and clamoring instead for a guitar.
"I found my way to Irish music (eventually)", says McConnell, who's since broadened his repertoire with tenor banjo, Uillean pipes and pennywhistle.
Next up? "We're thinking about the sitar," he jokes.
senior is the only Duhk who hails from nonmusical family - but, like most of his band-mates, the percussionist has already stormed through a variety of genres (jazz, Cuban, etc.). According to Elizabeth, such varied backgrounds have resulted in "weird musical combinations" that "take us to a whole new level."
Jessica "Asheville is Tattoo Heaven" Havey, of the soulful voice and exotic looks, is considered by all Dulhks to be their most-hip memeber.
" I'm fabulous," the vocalist quips, "and i don't like to talk about anybody but myself."
But it may be Elizabeth who best embodies the Duhks' rousing spirit, both in her talent and buoyant joie de vivre.
Two years ago, she was attending the esteemed mark O'Connor Fiddle Camp near Nashville - as a teacher. She was only 17.
"All the teachers there are the creme de la creme," she says, "and O'Connor chose me. I was so flattered."
Her fellow Duhks desrcibe her bandshee bowing style as "burnin" - and the fiddler is both young to agree and talented enough to divert the praise.
" I'm burnin'," she amends, "about life"
- Mountain Xpress


"Your daughter and your sons, The Duhks, by lisa Brosnan and eston Spain, December 2003 - January 2004"


When Leonard Podolak was a boy growing up in the Wholseley District of Winnipeg, an area affectionately known to locals as "the granola belt," notable folk musicians often spent the night at his house. That's because his father is Mitch podolak, one of Canada's biggest booters of folk music, who, along with Leonard's mother, ava Kobrinsky, founded the Winnipeg Folk Festival, as well as number of other festival across Canada.
'When I was a kid there were people coming through all the time. Stan Rogers, Jim Post, and Tony Bird: These are the people who would sleep on our couches. Actually, I would sleep on the couch, They would sleep in my bed," said Podolak. The Podolake family home, full of banjos and old Lps, has always been open to the singers and pickers of the canadian folk community. "That was a really wonderful part of my upbringing, even though I didn't really realize it at the time and didn't really appreciate it, in fact resented it in a lot of ways."
Although he didn't grasp the significiance of it at the time, this was the ultimate beginning for a young man who, with his own band, the Duhks, is now speeding toward the forefront of a new generation of folk music. This isn't with music that is lively and spirited and a slight bit funky, without straying too far from the intent of his father's contemporaries and without forgetting where he came from.
"I'm doing what I'm doing because of my parents. Unlike a lot of other parents in this business, they've been right behind me. Whatever I've done in my life, they've supported, wether it's playing banjo or playing a synthesizer when I was 14 for my Guns N'Rose cover band," Podolak said with laugh.
After a few years with the Juno-nominated Scruj MacDuhk, Podolak discovered the sound and style he wanted to take further. he formed his current band by calling on friends he had jammed with in the past. For the Duhks, he was looking for people who knew the old Celtic, Appalachian, and French-Canadian songs, but were wiling to give them a fresh approach. - Dirty Linen


"The Duhks"


A few years back, I found myself at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, enthralled by local group who called featured an eclectic blend of folk, Celtic, and old time music, anchored by the banjo playing of Leonard Podolak. Well, Scruj McDuhk is no more, but Podolak arose from the ashes to form a great new brand simply called The Duhks.
This group from the frozen prairie plays an outstanding amalgam of contemporary and traditional acoustic music that will have you clapping your hands and reaching for your dancing shoes. They have a sort of Appalachian/French Canadian fiddle tune sensibility to them. they combine old tunes and songs with original new ones and they play them in their own, ebullient, inimitable style.
- Rogue Folk, by Al Meyer, January 2003


Discography

The Duhks
Your Daughters & Your Sons
(Released in Canada 2003)

New Album
(Coming on Sugar Hill Records in Feb 05)

DCD-001

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Banjo prodigy Len Podolak leads The Duhks, a fiddle-based band that includes handmade guitar, Peruvian cajon percussion and a jazz- trained singer. They skip from Appalachian tunes to Celtic reels to French-Canadian folk songs, to their own high-energy acoustic instrumentals. The Duhks are working on their second album, being produced by Bela Fleck and released on Sugar Hill Records in February next year. They have been immediate hits on the folk scene and were nominated for a Juno Award for their debut CD, Your Daughters and Your Sons, released in 2003. They traveled all over the US last year with 23 folk festival appearances, and great showcases at the Folk Alliance and the International Bluegrass Music Association. Visit www.duhks.com for more info and take note of their on-line guest book for rave reviews from the folks who discovered the Duhks over the last year.

Bandleader Leonard Podolak brings his superb banjo playing, his tune writing skills, his singing, his ability as an arranger and his extensive experience as a professional artist into the mix. Leonard is the guy who makes stuff happen. He is the mad scientist who created the former Winnipeg Folk scene wonder Scruj MacDuhk and then toured with them to every major festival in Canada as well as the US and Denmark. Len has always had a gift for seeking and recruiting great players; people who share his intense passion for traditional music and well written new songs. Dugg Simpson of the Vancouver Folk Festival once told this writer that “Leonard is a folk prodigy…people will be telling stories about him at folk festivals thirty, forty years from now”.

Tania Elizabeth has been playing fiddle since she was old enough to hold it in place. Tania is an amazingly skillful, fiery and entertaining fiddler. Her knowledge of fiddle music spans a lot of territory and her ability to absorb music quickly appears limitless. A committed player she has toured from Toronto to Shanghai and from Vancouver to Sidney. She has released two solo recordings, and has served as Celtic instructor at Nashville legend Mark O’Connor’s fiddle camp.

Jordan McConnell’s impeccable sense of timing brings a steadying musical presence to the group. In addition to being a great guitar player he is an excellent vocalist and a fine tenor banjo player. When he isn’t playing folk music he sometimes can be found dabbling in classical guitar and punk. Entirely a renaissance man, Jordan goes beyond simply playing instruments; he makes them. As an active guitar maker his customers include national finger-picking champion Tim Sparks and Danu guitarist Noel Ryan.

Jessee Havey sings with authority. She has real character in her voice and is able to believably sing everything from Old Time ballads to Celtic laments, to blues and torch songs. Hers is the voice “that will.” Her strength and obvious talent had her destined for an acting and theatre-directing career until the lure of folk music lucre swept her off her feet and she decided to run away and join a band.

Scott Senior creates a beat out of everything his hands come in contact with. His percussion on the cajon and congo drums has been steadying bands in Winnipeg for a decade. He gained recognition nationally with pop band Tequila Mockingbird, funked it up with Moses Mayes, and earned international respect through the Afro-Caribbean rhythms of Rodrigo Muñoz and Papa Mambo. His percussion brings a delicate, danceable quality to the Duhks.

For more information on the band, please contact:
Management: Mort Goss: phone: 807-468-7809, fax: 807-468-8460, email: sure@voyageur.ca
Booking: Catharine Anne: phone: 416-962-8885, email: catharine@paquinentertainment.com