The Gruff

The Gruff


For 8 years, The Gruff have wowed Canadian audiences with their unique, high energy blend of folk, traditional and contemporary music. An acoustic sound driven by intricate instrumental work and soaring three part harmonies.


"...the three billy goats have become four young women who play folk music with the skill of old-timers."
-Penguin Eggs Magazine

Howdy, and welcome to Gruff Country.
Not your standard “country”, this inspired and talented young band out of Victoria, BC challenges you to pin a label on their music. The Gruff filter numerous folk traditions through the sieve of modern experience to create a truly unique sound. From old-time to country; from bluegrass to good old rock ‘n’ roll; these young songwriters harmonize, sing and shout songs of joy, sorrow, and everything in between; with astounding energy and passion.

With their easy, comfortable stage presence and their obvious delight in performance, The Gruff bring a smile to every audience. Their extensive experience shines through songs of love, heartache, travel, and hard work, interspersed with traditional tunes picked up over their various journeys. Every song has a story behind it, and the audiences learn more about the band through charismatic and amusing stage banter. This group's genuine chemistry is apparent and engaging.

Over the past 8 years, the band has matured creatively and incorporated original songs with a real "coastal country" flavour into their repertoire. Received with enthusiasm by audiences, the young Gruff nurtured this original sound and became the band you know today.

Phaedra Kemp accompanies her edgy country-folk vocals on the standing snare drum and bass drum and plays a melancholy harmonica as well. Jenny Ritter hammers her guitar John Henry himself, and sings with all her heart. Holding down the fort is Terri Upton on the double bass - the big bull fiddle rivals her in size, but she keeps it steady as a pickup on a logging road. The women's three-part harmonies are rich and sweet, but they're not just about the vocals. The Gruff’s instrumental prowess is unusual in such a young group. These three women are now joined on stage by Adam Iredale-Gray, a young fiddler and banjo-ist who shreds on solos and adds lovely textures to an already complex sound. This band has traveled from coast to coast, stomping stages from Coast to Coast. The Gruff have amazed audiences from Nova Scotia's Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival to the Ottawa Folk Festival and the Hillside Festival in Guelph.

The Gruff released their latest album, A Trail of Missing Thoughts in February 2008. It's a self-produced project that reflects perfectly the dreamy roots-country sounds you can find at a live Gruff show. The album features many renowned guest musicians such as Adrian Dolan (The Bills) on fiddle, Adam Dobres (Outlaw Social) on Country Electric Guitar, and Tim Tweedale (Headwater, the Nautical Miles) on Weissenbourn.


A Goat on Every Floor - Nov 2003
The Gruff (self-titled) - Oct 2006
A Trail of Missing Thoughts - Feb 2008

Set List

Enough original, traditional and cover songs to perform a three hour performance. Cover songs include the likes of Gillian Welch, Gordon Lightfoot, The Rheostatics. Original songs have a roots-country/alt-country flavour, spiced up with a west coast flavour.