The Once
Gig Seeker Pro

The Once

St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada | MAJOR

St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada | MAJOR
Band Folk




"Newfoundland Musicians receive JUNO nods"

Newfoundland musicians receive Juno nods
CBC News

Gospel singer Kellie Loder, rock band Hey Rosetta! and folk trio The Once have all been nominated for 2012 Juno Awards.

Hey Rosetta! singer Tim Baker, as seen in a frame from the band's Yer Spring video. (CBC)The nominations were announced in Toronto on Tuesday.

The Once were nominated for their album Row Upon Row Of The People We Know. They're in the category Roots and Traditional Album of the Year: Group.

Kellie Loder's album Imperfections and Directions was nominated for Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year.

Hey Rosetta! was nominated in the New Group of the Year category.

The Juno Awards will be given out in Ottawa from March 26 to April 1, with William Shatner hosting the televised Juno broadcast on April 1. - CBC

"THE ONCE - JUNO Nominees Head East"

Posted: March 28, 2012

Hot on the heels of their Juno nomination for ‘Roots & Traditional Album of the Year – Group’, for their Borealis/Universal album ‘Row Upon Row of the People They Know’, Newfoundland band, the Once, will be headlining some amazing shows in Eastern Canada.

In just three years, the folk trio has gone from playing after dinner theatre in Trinity, NL, to major national and international tours. In the past year they have headlined shows right across Canada, Britain, Ireland, Denmark and most recently, Australia.

The Once have captured the country’s attention with their heartfelt delivery of both original and traditional Newfoundland songs. ‘Row Upon Row…’ is their second full length album and was released on Borealis Records in early October. Based on the classic folk trios of the sixties, the band marries Americana and indie-folk sounds with the traditional flavours of Newfoundland. The result is something both calm and majestic, a side of Newfoundland music rarely heard outside its Island home.

‘Row Upon Row of the People They Know’ is made of pieces of the three of us as individuals over kitchen tables full of tea and happiness and pressure and frustration. It’s each of us putting ourselves out there in front of each other like we’ve never done,” explained singer and guitarist Phil Churchill. “It’s the first step towards becoming the band we want to be rather than the band we’re expected to be.”

With the album topping best-seller lists across the country and under growing demand as a live act, the band is delighted with their Juno recognition.

“This nomination feels like nothing we’ve felt before. We’ve always been humbled and delighted by any recognition, but this is extra-special,” said Andrew Dale, who along with Geraldine Hollett and Phil, makes up the trio known as the Once.

“We wanted people to recognize more of ourselves, all three of us in this record. It’s a much better representation of us, and how we want to progress as a band. We felt this was an important next step, and we are delighted that people have connected with that. We hope this will be the start of something that will last for a while.”

While audiences in Hampton, Fredericton and Knowlton, QC will be witnessing the band’s unique rapport for the first time, they will be playing to growing crowds in the Ottawa region and Halifax. - Sea and Be Seen

"ECMAs mean a lot to The Once"

Moncton, N.B. - When you've already been nominated for a Juno, how important is it to come to a music awards celebration back home in Atlantic Canada? Just as important as ever, say the members of St. John's-based folk trio The Once.

Fresh from a Juno nomination for Roots and Traditional Group Album of the Year, The Once - Geraldine Hollett, Andrew Dale and Phil Churchill - are in Moncton, N. B. this weekend, along with hundreds of other musicians and music industry representatives for the East Coast Music Awards.

The annual week-long Atlantic Canadian music summit includes showcases, seminars, workshops and one-on-one meetings with music agents, and will end with an awards gala at the Casino New Brunswick Sunday night.

The Once are kicking off a tour in support of their latest album, "Row Upon Row of the People They Know," at the ECMAs and heading on to Halifax Monday.

The trio was one of the big winners at last year's ECMAs, earning the award for Group Recording of the Year.

On Friday afternoon, they performed during a live taping of CBC Radio's Shift at a downtown grill, a packed house singing along with every word.

"ECMAs are always going to remain that enormous goal that you could actually reach, because you've been looking at the underside of it for so many years," Churchill explained. "The Junos happen and we're still wrapping our heads around it, but with ECMAs, it's this almost weird, ethereal thing - it's something you've been looking forward to for such a long time that it will never be diminished."

Recognition of any kind will always be important, Dale explained.
And there's something particularly comfortable about the ECMAs.
It's a great chance for music fans to take in some local talent. And it's an opportunity for the artists to do the same, catching gigs by newcomers and having a few pints with old friends.

"I like to think of it as a come home year," Hollett said.

"We all get to come back and see what everyone's doing, and we get to see all the new and upcoming people."

The event is more than just music, however, and The Once are more than happy to get down to business.
They've got a couple of private meetings scheduled for the next couple of days. It might not be the most fun aspect of the week, but definitely integral if a career is to be made.
"It's the part that we're finding out should have been important a few years ago," Churchill said, laughing.
"You can find enjoyment out of it and you can also turn it into something where you take a bit of the power back into your own hands. It's important if you want to do this for a long time. It's not so important if you just want to do it on the weekends, play your gigs, take your cash and hide it in your boot." - The Telegram

"CBC's Bob Mersereau discovers The Once"


The usual view of the East Coast music scene is that it's a small regional area of the country, rich in musical tradition with lots of bands of all types. That's pretty much right, except that it's actually a big geographical area as the crow flies. Most of us don't get to visit the rest of the area all that often. Sure, you get the occasional trip to Halifax or PEI, but Cape Breton or Newfoundland, that's a special trip, and certainly we don't get to know about all the music happening in each place. So unless a new group tours to your city or you notice them on-line or radio, you can miss a lot.

That's my job tell you about the latest cool music happening on the East Coast. That's one of the reasons why the ECMA's are important, to showcase the latest bands so we can share this information. That's why, if you miss one, you can miss out on a lot. And that's why I failed you, dear listeners, by not attending last year's event. I can't even remember why I didn't go...that's not important. But what is important is that I missed out on a few groups, and one group in particular. Not just any group...the group of the year at this year's ECMA's.

I did my usual predictions before I went to Charlottetown, and did not bad, I got five out of ten for the categories I looked at. One of the categories I missed completely was Group Recording of the Year. I thought about Boxer the Horse, a hip young band out of Halifax, Wintersleep, certainly one of the top groups in the region, and then thought Slowcoaster would win, because of their big hits on radio from The Darkest of Discos. The band The Once from Newfoundland didn't even register with me, because I didn't know them. I hadn't heard their self-titled disc, and since I haven't been to St. John's in a bit, I hadn't heard ABOUT them. It turns out I'd missed the excitement over them at last year's ECMA's too.

My bad. In fact, it didn't take long for me to discover what I'd been missing. The very first nite of the ECMA's, they were on stage playing to delegates and buyers from around the globe. Immediately it's obvious this is a traditional band with a big difference. Two men, one woman, Geraldine Hollett is the singer, and what a great voice she has, a really captivating one, on stage or on disc, the kind that holds your attention immediately. It's nice and pure, like cold spring water. The backing is sparse but effective, usually just a couple of instruments going from Phil Churchill and Andrew Dale, anything with strings really, from bouzoukis to banjo, and some light percussion. While Geraldine has the dominate lead, on occassion the boys break in with some harmonies.

I think it's the choice of material that really sets the group apart, and the way they tackle it is very different, thanks to some unique arrangements. There are several a cappela songs or sections of songs, and that's when Geraldine's voice really hits you. It's emotional stuff, a lot of it older traditional numbers. Hearing her sing these sad ballads transports you, and she can capture your heart on stage or on record. For modern material, they have picked some really clever numbers, including two Leonard Cohen tracks you don't hear covered, Anthem and Coming Back To You, and there's a song by their friend, the excellent East Coast writer Amelia Curran. Hollett makes each song her own, and you can hear her pour her all into the numbers. I think also the dramatic training she has certainly helps in how she delivers the songs.

Anyway, it's been awhile since I've been this excited about a largely traditional group, having been bombarded by them in years past. Now that the craze is over, perhaps the cream is rising again. Anyway, I'm glad to be on board with The Once, finally. - CBC On-Line

"Debut album from The Once leaves me floored, elevated"

First a caveat: there is nothing in the way of criticism I can offer on this, the debut, self-titled album from The Once. The first time I’d heard it, I was floored, the second time elevated, and every time since enthralled. Here’s why:

The album opens on a briefly mournful note with the first few bars of Sail Away to the Sea, then dusts itself off and moves on. It’s as though there is an understanding here that while the path of our lives may be difficult at times, often leading us away from the things we most cherish, we mustn’t lose sight of the road ahead.

There is a deep and real life lived in this album. From song to song, prominent themes of loss and remembrance are ultimately challenged by fierce bouts of strength and determination. Geraldine Hollett’s voice, as soft and sweet as it is dense and determined, carries us through. While many an accomplished singer can do a fine job of conveying emotion, it’s clear Hollett lives it, at times so much so that you feel yourself living it, too.

The songs comprise a refreshing mix of traditional and contemporary Newfoundland folk music along with some nice choices from larger, more established artists. All songs are arranged by The Once, with a level of instrumentation that you would expect describes a band of far great than three.

Most of the dozen or more instruments are handled gracefully and articulately by Phil Churchill and Andrew Dale, who also lend their vocals to some incredibly haunting, at times beautifully cascading harmonies.

Our bittersweet journey with The Once draws to a close with a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Anthem. In tones both certain and understated, The Once leave us on a resonating note of perseverance.

For a debut album, The Once demonstrate an impressive and mature range of talent, including the wherewithal to work with the best and the brightest in their field. Rising star in the music production world, Mark Neary, mixes nuance and subtlety with big, bold strokes deftly and to perfection. Right down to the design and packaging of the CD, this album gets every detail right.

I expect to see many great things from The Once with this, their debut album, being the first offering from what will no doubt be a long and successful career.

You can find The Once at Fred’s Records and O’Brien’s Music Store in St. John’s or by contacting the band by e-mail. The Once are expected to show up on iTunes soon, too, along with a previously unreleased track.

For more information on The Once, including photos, show dates and streaming music, be sure to check out their website. - The Signal

"The Once Upon A Time"

The Dictionary of Newfoundland English defines "the once" as: "as soon as possible, right away."

Used in a sentence, one might say "Let's go see The Once the once."

The other "The Once," of course, is the young folk trio of Geraldine Hollett, Phil Churchill and Andrew Dale, which is taking Newfoundland's folk music scene by storm.

Their self-titled debut record, released in July, has spent a number of weeks in the top position for album sales at Fred's Records in St. John's.

In a period of just five weeks the band has sold nearly 1,000 copies, a visibly excited Hollett tells me as she, Churchill, Dale and I discuss the band, their album and early success.

Seated on a futon in the living room of Hollett and Churchill's downtown top-floor apartment, she tells me about how the couple met and began singing together, as she occasionally peers out the window at the rain.

It all began a little more than a decade ago, she says, when she and Churchill met at Grenfell College in Corner Brook where they were studying theatre arts.

"Phil was the first person to say to me 'You should belt it out. That's what people want to hear,'" she recalls, laughing.

The pair met Dale while working for the Rising Tide Theatre Company in Trinity.

Now, the three are singing their way into people's hearts in St. John's, around the island, and across the Maritimes.

"The chemistry was there from the start," explains Dale.

"If we had to make an effort to make music work between the three of us it probably wouldn't have gone this far, but because there was chemistry right from the start and things just clicked, we got a charge and just wanted to keep going."

The focal point of the group's album and performances are the jaw-dropping three-part a capella harmonies that characterize much of their music, an attribute that caught the attention of Festival 500 organizers, who later invited the group to perform during the 2009 choral festivities last month.

"I remember the first time (singing harmonies), we were having a few drinks and learning one of these songs, and going 'Let's sing it again,' purely for the enjoyment of hearing that sound again," Churchill says.

"From this moment on we're the tiniest choir in Newfoundland," he jokes.

With a solid cohesion and each member's strengths harvested - Hollett's strong, but silky smooth vocals, Churchill's guitar, mandolin and violin playing, and Dale's multi-instrumental capabilities, including bodhran, banjo, bouzouki, mandolin, organ, accordion, bass, guitar, percussion, and piano -the only significant missing were the means to make a record.

As luck would have it, after a performance at the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival in Nova Scotia last summer, the band received a generous offer to help finance their album from a stranger who saw their performance.

"It just capped off the whole weekend when a complete stranger believes in what you're doing so much, having just heard you that weekend, and is willing to offer up a substantial amount of money to make an album and help you go to the next level," says Dale. "It's a pretty good pick-me-up."

The album's content includes remakes of both traditional tunes like "Maid On The Shore," "Three Fishers," and "Willie Taylor," and contemporary material such as Tom Waits' "The Briar And The Rose," Amelia Curran's "What Will You Be Building," and a pair of Leonard Cohen songs, "Coming Back To You" and "Anthem."

Dale and Churchill each contribute original compositions on "Nell's song," which features the lyrics of Al Pittman's "My Handsome Lad."

"I like to say it's sort of a snapshot of where we've been and elements of what's to come," says Churchill, explaining the band's careful attention as to how to introduce their music.

"When we put out the album we were looking to show people that we're not about any one specific style of music," Dale says.

"It's still folk roots," Churchill adds.

"If we did heavy metal that probably wouldn't go over very well," jokes Hollett, prompting Churchill to add "To do a nice three-part folk version of a Metallica song, I always thought would be - 'Oh my god, what a beautiful song! What is that?'"

After sharing a laugh, the trio say they're already thinking ahead to the a followup album, which will include a more balanced mix of original compositions and cover songs.

Although, calling The Once's versions of tunes like "Anthem" and "Three Fishers" cover songs is highly misrepresentative of the work on their debut album.

"You listen to our three-part a capella version of "Anthem,"" says Dale, "we came up with our own arrangements and put our own stamp on it."

Despite having already sold nearly 1,000 copies of the album since July, The Once are finally hosting the official launch of the record Aug. 18 at The Ship Pub in St. John's.

Ten dollars gets you into the show, but $20 gets you in and a copy of the CD. If value is your thing, then take The Once up on the latter offer.

For more information visit The Once's web site at - The Telegram


LPs released:
Row Upon Row of the People They Know Oct 2011
The Once (debut album)

Singles released:
You're My Best Friend October 2011
Maid On The Shore (radio airplay)



Named for a unique Newfoundland phrase that means ‘imminently’, now is indeed the time for The Once.

From their beginnings as three actors who also loved to sing together, The Once has embraced a different vision of Newfoundland music. Their sounds do not come from the noisy pubs and dockside taverns that fuel so much of the Island’s energy. Instead, their music comes from a quieter and more thoughtful place. Hope and tragedy are intertwined in their music, whether they are singing an old lament from World War I, original songs that speak of love defeated, or tasteful songs from the artists whose music inspires them.

Their title of their new album comes from a poem by poet George Murray, a poem that so inspired them they built a song around it. Song For Memory speaks of the power of words and music to freeze time and emotions, to make small moments large, and large moments small. The song’s climax features the memorable line, "row upon row, of the people you know", life’s expectations writ both in a personal and expansive way at the same time.

As a trio, the band has kept it uncomplicated, depending on the power of their voices and acoustic instruments. Lead singer Geraldine Hollett, has an instrument of rare power; she is a singer who can still a noisy room, so expressive she can tell a novel-length story with a few words. Accompanied by Phil Churchill and Andrew Dale on guitar, mandolin, fiddle and bouzouki, they create a perfect blend of voice and melody. Sometimes melancholy, sometimes funny, always poignant,The Once sound like nothing else that has ever come from Newfoundland.

Their debut album has built a gradual but fervent following, and their live show is unique in its combination of intimacy and power. They have won several East Coast Music and Canadian Folk Music awards, and the country is slowly waking up to just what an amazing band they are. Since they signed to Borealis Records in 2010, they have toured through out the country and Europe, drawing huge crowds and glowing reviews wherever they go. With Row Upon Row of the People They Know, The Once will take their place amongst Canada’s finest performers.

the once – in their own words

The Once has only been a band for a few years. They did not grow up dreaming of playing music together - it was more of an after-hours hobby, an adjunct to busy acting careers. Over time, it became more and more important. The busy years since they recorded their first album have allowed the band to grow and mature, and Row Upon Row of the People They Know represents the full flowering of that growth.

"We've definitely learned more about each other, what makes each of us tick (in good ways and bad ways), but also what each of our strengths and weaknesses are," said singer and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dale. "We're also a bit braver with our music. We've gained confidence with our own abilities, both on our own and as a band."

Singer and instrumentalist Phil Churchill made similar points: "We are much less polite and have stopped trying to impress each other. We are more open, more honest, more relaxed, more confident around each other. We work faster. We decide smarter. We dream bigger."

All three members agreed that this album represents a massive step forward for them.

"We were participants in the making of the first album - we are the creators of this one. The songs that we played together before releasing The Once, our self-titled debut, were the songs that we had learned in order to make up a long enough set to fill a night. They encapsulate a very short and very specific period of time for us”, said Churchill. "Row Upon Row of the People They Know is made of pieces of the three of us as individuals over kitchen tables full of tea and happiness and pressure and frustration. It's each of us putting ourselves out there in front of each other like we've never done. It's the first step towards becoming the band we want to be rather than the band we're expected to be."

Lead singer Geraldine Hollett explained that the two years of extensive touring and intense creativity have changed the way they collaborated.

"I think we have learned to really listen to each other, and make an album that represents who we are individually, and as a group, without compromising too much. We are all very strong-minded. Or stubborn – it’s a fine line."

The new album represents a crossroad in the bands creative process. All are fond of traditional Newfoundland music, but the quiet and moving songs they sing are miles away from the rowdy drinking songs and shanties that often represent the Island’s music.

"Songs like I’se The B’y are already provided with great enthusiasm and capability by other bands," explains Dale. "Our focus tends to wander down many different avenues underneath the folk music umbrella. We have a fairly wide range of interest musically and we believe the variety of material on the new album reflects that."