The Uncas
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The Uncas

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Dec
31
The Uncas @ Cultural Capital Newyears Celebration

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Nov
22
The Uncas @ O'Byrnes

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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Press


SUNNY UNCAS
The Uncas
Independent
4 ½ out of 5

Full of truly wild and beautiful country music, which strays deeply into the psychedelic, bursting with compositional imagination and layered singing sweeter than tiramisu, this my dear people, is why certain local bands get written about and others are left in the dust of basement bitterness.

The Uncas roam from Devo to Steve Earle to the Flying Burritos, from hokey to strokey to folkie to jokey, but with an impressive deck of pop cards that deals something that plays amid the knowable. Put simply, their songs are neither derivative nor predictable. A harp-spastic drum solo can jump out at you as easily as a chorus of man-singers hitting a note that makes your eyes shut and your mouth smile. It’s theatrical music, though not jockish. Big City Sickness , is an impossibly good barnstormer considering it’s full of ape grunts and the Ween lyrics later on didn’t go unnoticed, believe me.

These maniacs are my new local heroes; go to theuncas.com , you can sample some of their songs and hear why. What happens to them next is up to fate, but I have a good feeling
- The Edmonton Sun, Exclaim Magazine


THE UNCAS
Sunny Uncas (Indy)
3 ½ stars out of 5

All that Coast to coast touring this scruffy Edmonton cowpunk quintet has done with buddies such as Corb Lund and on it’s own over the past two years pays off on the group’s second CD. The 18 tracks swagger with the confidence of a horny rooster at dawn’s early light. Although songs such as “Big City Sickness” and “Strong Coffee” make it pretty clear that the Uncas are more likely to be up partying when the cock crows than catching z's. Throughout, the playing is so assured that you just know the band slays on stage. - The Vancouver Province


<Part of Serious renaissance of non-plastic country music>

The inevitable e-mail materialized from one of my national magazine editors in Toronto: “What the hell’s with Edmonton?”
What, indeed? It’s not so much that there’s a new movement , it’s that it is finally being picked up nationwide.
Call it post-alt country, Alberta whiskey twang, whatever you like, but our province – and especially Edmonton – is ground zero for a serious renaissance of rural, non- plastic country music which even the CCMAs have started to grasp.
This is, of course, news to no one save outsiders, but it never hurts to stop on the path and look at the scenery and get your bearings, as one of my old scoutmasters told me once in my “uniform phase”
Bearing sniffing is exactly what the Uncas are doing between tours right now, the band being five local-area boys who dress like farm kids because, you know, those are the clothes they actually wear on their friends’ and parents’ farm amid the grain bins and car cemeteries
Named, they are John Carpenter, Ronny “Ace” Wilkinson, Merle Kasper, and brothers Uncas, Sook and Futch(their real names).
Futch, 26 – whose least favorite singer is Shania Twain- is a good sort, serious enough about discussing their new album, Sunny Uncas, which turns out to totally rule. They’re releasing it tomorrow night at the Sidetrack.

Hillbilly Holler

With crystalline production that captures every hillbilly holler and beer-stained string-plucking, I officially here include the band in the high-end likes of Corb Lund, the Swifty’s, Old Reliable, Darrek Anderson and the Guaranteed, etc. etc.
“We’re totally proud to be a part of it”, Futch says during an interview he specifically wanted to be after 12 noon.
“For years I’ve been watching it. Darrek Anderson’s lived in lots of places and he says he’s never seen so many good country song writers in one place. The Swiftys are incredible, Corb Lund just won his CCMAs. Corby, we have to hand a lot to him. He showed us how to book clubs, he took us to Banff, Jasper, Calgary and got us in the door.
“When you open for him, you get seen by a lot of people. But we’re definitely part of it. Because of our humor, we don’t totally fit inn, but we’re friends with all those bands and we all respect each others’ music.”
Actually, the Uncas serve the wave’s dynamism. Given they’re easily the silliest players to behold, they balance theseriousness of the other bands nicely, creating a kind of dream bill.
This should not be taken as a go-ahead to dub them a joke band; they’re not. It’s just as Uncas means in Latin, they’re kind of crooked, in a way.
You may have noticed they’ve dropped the “Old Boys” suffix from their name, a move Futch says was made toconvince bookers they’re not “too country”, or a bunch of geriatric bluegrass players, which there’s plenty of time to evolve to. It wasn’t the only lesson they learned.

Do way better in big cities

“The original plan was getting a country band together and make some money. We really figured it would be the small towns like the ones we came from, but we weren’t capable of playing pure country. We do way better in the cities somehow. Vancouver and Calgary really fill up.
“it’s funny it went that way. When we would go to Grimshaw, they’d be expecting an Alan Jackson cover band or something at the hotel. The other place in town would have an AC/DC cover band. But then, in Edson there’s a bar that has independent music, so you never know.
“If you come to see the band with an open mind you’re going to have fun."

-Fish Griwkowsky - The Edmonton Sun Friday September 24, 2004


Slapping a label on their infectious set of tunes may not be to their liking, but “funk-try” or edgy alternative-country begin to tell the tale of Alberta band The Uncas. The five-piece play the Vat on September 30.
Their latest disc, Sunny Uncas is officially release Sept. 25th. The guys have nailed a striking balance with their tunes, capturing a searing energy – keeping things raw, rich and authentic. But there’s a polished touch as well. The balance lends itself beautifully to the seamless disc – a rollicking adventure born from the melded visions of five truly gifted artists.
By the way, the band’s moniker was inspired by Uncas, Alberta- a farming community east of Edmonton. It’s also the surname of brothers and bandmates Futch and Sook. Rounding out the group is John Carpenter, Ronny “Ace” Wilkinson and Merle Kasper.
The timing of what they’re churning out in terms of stylistic vision couldn’t be better for the band, with a growing fan base across Western Canada and a flourishing swing towards aalt-country tunes in general.
They also have their sites set on conquering Europe down the road – a veritable lock of support for their irrepressible energy onstage. “It’s really catching on all over the place,” notes Futch during a recent interview. From the start, their sound has been their own. Fitting into anything resembling the alt-country genre wasn’t on purpose. “It’s who we are,” he says of the mix of small town and urban sensibilities. Just don’t slap the country label on them. “We can’t really call ourselves country, because what’s going on in country is nothing like what we are doing.” Amen to that.
Sunny Uncas isn’t their first recording – a full length demo/disk was released in 2002. But this disc shines with the guys’ creative potential in bold new ways. On that level, they consider it their first official recording. Nailing that fresh, “Liveish” sound meant not over doing it. “We really tried to take the first, second or third take- you lose the edge or sense of fun if you go beyond that.”
Merging differing viewpoints into the final product isn’t without challenge, but a strict fairness rules as the creative decisions unfold, says Futch. “Every decision made about the disc is by a voting process.” It’s at least part of the reason the guys’ history together stretches back years to earlier band experiences. But none match today’s sense of cohesion. “We’ve all been in bands that have broken up because someone thought they should have a bigger say.”
Four of the five also handle the lead vocals – a sure-fire means of injecting variety, he adds. Ultimately, it’s the taking of the tunes to the fans that offer the most joy. “It’s a fun show – we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” he says, noting nervous jitters vanish once they hit the stage. They also rely on a lively audience. “The more into it the crowd is, the crazier we get,” he says. And the more fun we all have.”

- Thursday, September 23, 2004, Red Deer Express


Those good ‘ole country boys, The Uncas, will be releasing their latest CD, Sunny Uncas, in the Bow Valley this weekend.
Playing the Canmore Hotel on Saturday (Aug. 28) and Sunday at Wild Bill’s (Aug. 29), the Alberta-based band is more than riding the wave of the alt-country scene, it’s helping to define it.
Their latest effort is a great example of their energy and a complete fluency in the alternative language of country. Songs about the land, heartbreaking ladies and city slickers, all with catchy guitar riffs, driving syncopated beats, wild wit, and sweet harmonies will have even the most stubborn toes tapping.
No strangers to the Bow Valley, the band’s first trip through was with Corb Lund a few years ago and success has only followed – and so has their love for Canmore.
On the band’s latest album Canmore is thanked on the liner notes, along with the Canmore Hotel.
“I think it is my favorite place to play,” said Futch Uncas’s groggy voice on the phone after waking up from a late night gig in Whistler.
The band’s fan base is constantly growing and Futch gives thanks to the rise of popularity of the music genre.
”Even just fashion-wise it is cool now to wear a trucker hat,” said Futch.
A trademark of the band is the use of a skil-saw on stage to saw up old guitars and an assortment of wooden objects.
“We can’t afford to do guitars every night,” said Futch, laughing about the stage antics. He adds that the band doesn’t destroy functional guitars, just ones that are well past their usefulness.
The skil-saw adds a smoke machine effect to the show. Loaded up with a dull blade, the saw slowly grinds its way through wood, filling the stage with the smell of fresh sawdust and smoke.
Although perhaps a bit unorthodox in their onstage sawmill show, the boys are deeply rooted in the land. Hailing from Uncas, east of Edmonton, ties to the land are strong.
“We still have our land out there,” said Futch about his family’s farm. Photos of an old rusting combine grace the back cover of the album, and the front cover is an old auto wrecker’s in town.
The band enjoys many parodies about them – the Uncas brothers from Uncas, AB, the aptly-named John Carpenter wielding bass and skil-saw – but perhaps their website describes them best:
“And yeah they’re crooked, ‘specially the Uncas brothers, Futch and Sook. Well, on second thought, Merle Kasper is probably the most crooked . . . it’s a good thing John Carpenter and Ace Wilkinson are there to keep the others in line. But those two are rarely sober . . .”

- Dave Stobbe
- Dave Stobbe, Rocky Mountain Outlook


The Uncas - Drop the Ball

It would be unfair to slap the alt.country label on Alberta’s The Uncas, because you’d be hard-pressed to find another young band more slavish to the genre’s root sounds. Sure, their tunes may verge on parody with their exaggerated rockabilly energy and down-on-the-farm subject matter, but The Uncas aren’t doing a piss-take. Solid songs are peppered all over Drop the Ball, with just a hint of modernity adorning classic country rave-ups like “Hey Mama” and “Betsy Lou.” The Uncas clearly don’t take themselves too seriously, but this classic-sounding country album should win them a serious fan base. –MS

-Chart Magazine (National) – Dec 05/Jan06
- Chart Magazine (National) Dec05/Jan06


Urban cowboys influenced by rock, funk, and of course country, these
Alberta boys always please a crowd. Listening to The Uncas is the perfect way to reconnect with your love of poetry, humour, the prairies and music.
-Olwen Cowan
- The Phoenix - UBC Kelowna


THE YEAR OF THE UNCAS

Local alt-country fixtures THE UNCAS look back on a wildly successful 2005

By Mike LaRocque

When the Uncas ring in the New Year this Saturday at the Black Dog, it will not only serve as a celebration of another year gone by but also of an incredibly successful 12 months for the band. They’ve released two full length albums -Sunny Uncas and September’s Drop the Ball- to solid reviews, and it seems that having product out on the market is just what it takes to hold the attention of the listening public. This year alone the Edmonton group embarked on two separate 30-date cross-Canada tours, supporting their recordings, a feat that serves as a badge of honour for the ever-growing band, even if it’s an undeniably draining experience.
“It can be really tiring, but we wouldn’t go out and do it if it wasn’t fun,” says Futch, lead singer for the alt-country act. “Our first stretch on the last tour had us making it to Halifax in six days, and we played shows on the first five. By the time you hit the sack after finishing and packing up it would be five in the morning and you’d still have another day of driving and performing ahead of you. There were definitely some shows we thought were going to be brutal because we felt like zombies, but somehow we’re always alright and set to go when we get onstage”
Futch, along with brother Sook and fellow bandmates Merle Kasper, John Carpenter and Ace Wilkinson, have firmly established themselves as one of Edmonton’s leading purveyors of a traditional country sound injected with the funk and enthusiasm of rock n roll. And while their stage antics and energetic performances have made them into a staple of the local scene, Futch admits that, despite garnering large audiences during their Canadian tour, alt-country can still be a tough sell.
“It really depends on the market,” explains Futch. “If we’re playing in a small town, then we’re too rocky, and if we’re playing in a big city, then we’re too country. When we go into a new place there are a few people who question us, but most of the audiences like to see five guys up on the stage doing something crazy and a little different. It can be an uphill battle.”
In fact despite Edmonton’s occasional characterization as “Nashville North”, Futch sees something distinct in Edmonton that has allowed the Uncas to thrive musically and to successfully grow from a small local band into an act touring across the country.
“There are a lot of alt-country bands in Edmonton, so I think that a lot of people here think that it must be the same everywhere, but it’s not. That can be an advantage, though, because we’ll go some places where there’s no one doing this stuff and people want to see it. I think in Alberta alt-country might be fading because it has been around for so long, but outside it’s just catching on.”
While it seems that the band has done enough work to exhaust the momentum built from their albums and tours, 2005 looks to be leading into an even more eventful 2006. With the band gaining attention from labels (“we’re really happy being DIY,” says Futch) and having mastered the art of the cross-country trek, the Uncas will more than likely have no reason to be singing country blues for at least another year.
“We already have a whole slew of new songs ready to go, but you can’t really have a non-stop onslaught of albums,” laughs Futch. “We’ll continue touring and working on our songs, and then start recording the new album to come out in 2006. We’re basically just waiting in the wings-we can’t release an album every three months.”
- VUE WEEKLY, Edmonton December 29, 2005


Discography

The Uncas - Drop the Ball - 2nd Full Length - 2005
The Uncas - Sunny Uncas - 1st Full Length - 2004
Distributed by Spirit River Distribution www.spiritriver.com, www.cdbaby.com and www.bullfrogmusic.com .
The Uncas Old Boys - self titled EP - releases in 2003

Photos

Bio

The Uncas bring new meaning to the word original. Their unique brand of music has been described as whiskey cowpunk, post alt-country, and psychograss. The high-energy shows of The Uncas feature five part harmonies, jaw dropping riffs, and hooks that make sparks fly. The band features five songwriters, each of whom is a multi-instrumentalist, and together they have released two albums – Sunny Uncas and Drop the Ball. Their catchy sound is ever-evolving - it draws on the roots of rock n roll, western twang, and occasionally the high octane fervor of punk or metal. The Uncas are currently hard at work on an album that is due out in early 2008. While they are adept at the art of putting on a show, this group is no one-trick pony: they also place powerfully crafted music on the table.

In their five years together The Uncas have appeared multiple times across Canada, from coast to coast, impressing people from all walks of life everywhere they go. Almost every famous honky-tonk in the country has hosted these hotshots - from the Railway Club in Vancouver to the Horseshoe Tavern and El Mocambo in Toronto, everywhere from Halifax to Victoria, with lots of venues and festivals in between. The Uncas have had much success on the road. At home, the story is no different - the band has sung the national anthem at an Edmonton Oilers game and showcased their Ukrainian roots at The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, as well as being featured on Much Music’s Much Does Edmonton in 2005. The band’s festival appearances include repeat performances at Big Valley Jamboree (AB) and North Country Fair (AB), as well as memorable shows at South Country Fair (AB), Lakeland Music Festival (AB), The Nerve Magazine’s Festival of Guns (BC), and many more. The band has played for festival audiences as large as 12,000 people and this year will be featured in the New Year’s Eve festivities in downtown Edmonton as part of the Cultural Capital of Canada Nightworks celebration. There isn’t much these guys haven’t seen and that comes through in their songs and their electrifying stage presence – it’s a show not to be missed!

Live fans love the fact that this talented group can sound so good while having such a good time. All five members sing, which makes for thick harmonies and a diverse repertoire, and every member can play any instrument on the stage. This versatility adds excitement and freshness to their maniacal performances. The boys never take themselves too seriously, poking fun at themselves and everyone else, ensuring that all are having a great time. The band has a strong University following, but live music fans of all ages and musical preferences enjoy this one of a kind act. The Uncas’ versatile material can be booked for late night revelry, and often is, but the band has also been featured on many family stages. Their professionalism and ability to read a crowd allows them to succeed just as easily in a rowdy beer garden as in a family setting.

The Uncas have worked very hard over the last few years to fully realize what comprises their rare sound and how to reproduce it in the studio. The thematic Sunny Uncas succeeded in this, and it includes 18 tracks of stellar songs and good times. The album maintains a polished sound while showcasing a wild, fresh energy, lunatic sense of humor, and a subtle darker side. Their latest release, Drop the Ball, was recorded at the historic Sidetrack Cafe in Edmonton, Alberta months before it was to be torn down in an attempt to capture the room's sound, but also the live energy of the band. The disc was approached as a studio album done in one take, live off the floor, and after being mastered in New York by Turtletone Studios, the result is the hardest hitting Uncas album yet. The boys have a huge backlog of songs and new ones popping up everyday, so work has begun on a new studio album that will be released in the spring of 2008 – just in time for festival season. The Uncas plan to tour for most of 2008, so we hope to see you soon!

QUOTES REGARDING THE UNCAS

“There’s a lot to like about this in-yer-face, tongue-in-cheek, Alberta country band that bends genres like Uri Geller bends spoons.”
- Mike Ross, The Edmonton Sun

“The Uncas rock...I've had many drinks while watching them play, and that in itself should be a ringing endorsement. 'Just Walkin' is a beauty . . . I may cover it one of these days.”
- Corb Lund, of The Corb Lund Band and The Smalls
www.corblund.com

“Throughout (Sunny Uncas), the playing is so assured that you just know the band slays on stage.”
- Stuart Derdeyn, Vancouver Province

“. . . massive injections of creativity . . . these maniacs are my new local heroes"
- Fish Griwkowsky, The Edmonton Sun, Vue Magazine, Exclaim.

"…the Alberta based band is more than riding the wave of the alt-country scene, it's helping to define it.”
- Dave Stobbe, writer, Rocky Mountain Outlook