The Duhks

The Duhks

 Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN
BandWorldBluegrass

The Duhks (pronounced "Ducks") are a Juno-award-winning, Grammy-nominated acoustic group of musical virtuoso twenty-somethings from Winnipeg, MB. Nominated in 2009 for a Roots/Traditional Album of the Year:Group JUNO, The Duhks are also sponsored by CLIF Bar/GreenNotes to promote sustainable touring

Biography

The Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Duhks have always gravitated towards traditional roots-based song structures, but they've never stopped evolving since their inception five years ago. Due in part to a collective musical worldview that knows no boundaries, that evolution led the band to their latest offering Fast-Paced World, the first Duhks record to feature prodigies Sarah and Christian Dugas (replacing vocalist Jessee Havey and percussionist Scott Senior respectively). It's an album that reflects the quintet's newfound confidence, with Sarah bringing five original songs to the band's encyclopedic collection of originals and covers both old and new.

The French-Canadian born Dugas siblings have been immersed in music their whole lives, thanks in part to their musician parents. "We had a family band that toured across Canada when I was 7 and Christian was 9," remembers Sarah. "My father had a recording studio in the house, so I grew up hearing a variety of musicians playing everything from rap to rock to world beat. I grew up in a fun and creative environment."

Dugas' emergence as a songwriter has clearly contributed to the group's progression — the other members are fiddler Tania Elizabeth, guitarist Jordan McConnell and founder/banjo player Leonard Podolak — from the jaunty pop of "You Don't See it" to the jazz-waltz of "This Fall," the Duhks' enthusiastic fan base has embraced the changes. "The reaction has been really positive," says Dugas. "We've been able to keep the old fans and gotten some new ones as well."

“There's a more liberal attitude in the band when it comes to songwriting approaches,” admits Podolak. That attitude has even extended to drummer Christian's use of a full kit, in contrast to the band's previous use of just percussion. "My musical tastes have broadened immensely since we first started,” Podolak adds. “I think we've evolved musically, while maintaining our roots, but everybody in the band listens to so many different things, it was bound to happen.”

It's that kind of musical DNA that makes the band's spot-on fusion of traditional bluegrass, folk rock, Afro-Cuban jazz and soul so accessible and yet so hard to pigeonhole. It's also earned them a Grammy Award nomination in the Best Country Vocal Performance category as well as a Juno award in their native Canada.

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Accolades aside, the band doesn't see any reason to pull their punches lyrically, as Dugas laments on the funky title track, "We've forgotten what's sacred in this fast-paced world." "It's a song that's essentially about over-consumption," remarks Podolak. "We've all grown up with an outlook where's there's enough for everyone without destroying the earth."

Environmental issues are a passion for the band, inspiring them to launch The Duhks Sustainability Project (www.greenduhks.com) in October 2007. Spearheaded by Tania Elizabeth, the band's goal is to "tour on as sustainable a basis as possible; fueling our vehicle with Biodiesel, supporting local organic farmers wherever we go, wearing sustainable eco-conscious clothing, using earth-friendly shampoos, soaps and cosmetics and offsetting remaining CO2 emissions with carbon credits."

"As a band, it's something we feel very strongly about," says Podolak. "We just want to reduce our carbon footprint as much as humanly possible."

Fast Paced World was produced by the Nashville-based Jay Joyce (Patty Griffin, John Hiatt), who joins an impressive set of producers (Béla Fleck, Tim O'Brien) before him. "Jay's basement studio was like something out of the Star Trek Enterprise," laughs Podolak. Despite trying to quit smoking at the time (4 nicotine patches at once!), Joyce was "very open to our ideas and very easy to work with. I also think he learned as much from us as we did from him about combining the acoustic and electric elements of our songs in a studio setting," continues Podolak.

As the band continues their own musical evolution, Fast-Paced World illustrates just how far the Duhks have come—and just how far they're willing to go to challenge themselves artistically. Ultimately though, according to Leonard, the Duhks "just want to play music that speaks to everybody." Mission accomplished.

Discography

1. Your Daughters and Your Sons - (2003 Compass Records)
2. Duhks - (2005 Sugar Hill Records)
3. Migrations - (2006 Sugar Hill Records)
4. This Fall EP - (2008 Sugar Hill Records)
5. Fast Paced World - (2008 Sugar Hill Records)

Set List

You Don't See It
Mighty Storm
Down To The River
Fast Paced World
Adam's - This Fall
Jigs
Blood's Too Rich (Luke Ducet cover)
Toujours Vouloir
Dance Hall Girls
Sleepin Is All I Wanna Do
95-South
State Troop (Bruce Springsteen cover)
Allumé
Death
Ship High In Transit
Les Blues Des Cadien/Whole Lotta Love