Willie Stratton
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Willie Stratton

Halifax, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF | AFM

Halifax, Canada | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2012
Solo Americana Country




"Homegrown Talent"

The musician Willie Stratton mixes folky acoustics with alternative surf rock. He describes himself as “some wise guy from Halifax who plays banjo and guitar and stomps and yells and stuff”. Stratton is currently working on an upcoming album with a throwback country feel to it (yodelling is involved). You can see him live at venues such as The Company House or Gus’ Pub. - The Guardian

"In The Dead Of Winter 2015"

I spent a good chunk of last night's Dead of Winter deeply concerned about whether the wobbly Bus Stop stage would survive the thundering force of Stratton's foot. I kept watching the bouncing guitar stand, shaking from each impact, wondering if it would topple over into the amplifiers. With every downward strike, I became increasingly convinced that Stratton's leg would simply burst through the wooden floor and emerge a bloody, tangled mess. (In the end, the only minor casualty was a single monitor, which toppled off the stage near set's end and was quickly recovered.)

Stratton, whose record Deserter won the Music Nova Scotia Award for Alternative Album of the Year last year, clearly has an undeniable energy, matched with a throat-tearing voice that resembles Marcus Mumford after several shots of fiery whisky. At times, the five-piece band's boisterous cacophony proved a bit much to handle, becoming tangled ball of indistinct noise in the mix (and requiring extensive retuning that hurt the set's flow somewhat). But the material was quite strong, particularly a late-set take on Stratton's two-part epic "The River" that sprawled and swayed — and stomped — the Dead of Winter festival's second night to a close. - Exclaim!

"Halifax Pop Explosion – Willie Stratton & The Boarding Party"

Crowd: The show was held at the Harbourfront Lounge at Casino Nova Scotia as a part of New Music Fridays, which is an ongoing series of free concerts featuring different music acts each week. There were easily roughly 120 – 160 people there, but a lot of traffic coming in and out of the venue throughout the set so it was hard to gauge.
Technicalities: As far as sound is concerned, it was perfect. The music filled the room but didn’t leave you with your ears ringing after the show. The lack of dance floor at the front of the stage probably disappointed the Pop Explosion crowd because the band was truly dance-your-ass-off worthy. The lack of dance space is why I rated the crowd reaction at 7/10. It can be hard to determine a reaction to music when the audience is sitting. But then again, nobody really left!
Memorable Moment: The energy coming from Willie Stratton & The Boarding Party during different parts of the set really set the bar for me. From jumping off drum kits and amps, to stomping their feet so hard I was sure they’d break through the stage, their show and music really left an impression on me.
Image: Hipster…I guess? I’m terrible at naming or choosing “images”. But I did like Willie’s red-checkered blazer.q
Comments: Between songs during the first part of the set, Willie Stratton informed the crowd that the band’s bassist, Grace was away in Japan so they had Adam Pye of Modern Grass stepping in to play in her spot for the night. For the ones in the crowd new to the music of Willie Stratton, I’m sure they were surprised to learn this as the band put on an incredible and energetic show as if they had been doing this music thing together for years. - The Scene Magazine

"Willie Stratton & The Boarding Party Deserter (independent)"

Willie Stratton and his first-rate band come rollicking out of the quiet hills of Bedford for another smack of folk-rock bliss. Peppered among some sturdy ballads and a few old favourites is a smattering of tracks that points towards a new direction for the group: “Trinkets” and “Forest Tea Part III” are (relatively) subtler in their instrumentation than most of what Stratton’s put out to date, with slippery lead guitar lines weaving through an ever-present acoustic strum. It’s not a total departure, however ---there is still plenty of the loud, seething energy that Stratton built his name on. Two-parter “The River” is Deserter’s highlight and perhaps his greatest achievement to date---melodic and kinetic, pushing through the same winding path as its namesake. - The Coast

"NXNE 2013: Willie Stratton & The Boarding Party @ Handlebar"

WEDNESDAY — After getting stood up by Vagina Panther, who were a no-show at Hard Luck Bar, we were looking for something close by to cheer us up. Knowing that East Coast music usually does the trick, we headed to Handlebar to catch some of the Halifax Pop Explosion showcase. Not knowing what to expect, but hoping for some banjoes and fiddles and footstomping, we arrived just as Willie Stratton & The Boarding Party started their set. Crammed onto the teeny tiny stage, they whirled into their too-short set, treating us to my favourite kind of folk show: full of loud, howling harmonies, perfect banjo picking, foot stomping, hand clapping fiddle dancing good times. They were glowingly happy to be playing in Toronto and screamed about how much they loved the city, something that's always nice to hear in a time when most everyone is feeling like things are going to shit. - the Little Red Umbrella

"Willie Stratton's fierce folk"

... The quartet begins with the languid "Railroad Tracks," which is mostly stringed in the beginning, until the drums come raging in, just the two of them somehow, the shoeless von Tiesenhausen attacking the rims like they've offended him. Their voices rise together in beautifully cracked harmonies, projecting like preachers across dozens of peers who are now shutting their mouths one by one, because nobody in the room expected this.

No one saw this band coming...
- The Coast

"Ramble on"

… Willie Stratton and company forcefully stormed the stage, a crashing din of fierce and frantic folk. Flanked on both side by floor toms, Stratton belted his taylor-made [sic] dark melodies and dingy lyrics with a reckless abandon, wild eyes ablaze as bandmates Magnus von Tiesenhausen and Kristen Wells alternated banjo, accordion and floor toms, and Grace Stratton stomped, pounded and flailed with the mesmerizing rhytmic pulse. A catapulted sense of urgency and inherent frustration, songs like the chaingang choral “November” shook the theatre, the band almost stomping clear through the stage as they clamoured around, throwing heads back in cascading harmony howls.

…it was Willie Stratton who inevitably stole the show, captivating onlookers and leaving them catatonic in the wake of a wild caterwaul of incinerating, brooding folk music. - Dalhousie Gazette

"Hello IDOW, goodbye Ramblers?"

… the face-melting, lyric-belting folkster Willie Stratton and his equally as wonderful cronies Kristen Wells, Magnus von Tiesenhausen and Grace Stratton shut everyone up and used some microphones that were likely as old as their parents. Or older. I got goosebumps a few times, Willie busted his guitar, Grace rocked out so hard her drum fell off the stage … - The Coast

"IDOW ’12 Review: Willie Stratton"

… The performance had a raw and organic feel to it. Choosing heart and soul over style and perfection[,] The six foot something Willie Stratton would stand holding an unstrapped guitar or banjo, letting the instrument go where it needed to go…
The band looked like they were having a blast playing on stage. They brought unbridled enthusiasm that grabbed the attention of the audience that filled the Bus Stop Theatre. Willie Stratton and his band are breathing new life into the Halifax music scene.
- The Broken Speaker

"Album Review: Willie Stratton"

NSCAD student influenced by legendary conductors and folk singers
On the first listen of Willie Stratton's self-titled debut album, it is hard to believe this music was written by a 19-year-old. Sure, there are many young musicians who have made big splashes in the music world the past few years, such as Taylor Swift who reached stardom while still in her teenage years.
Stratton's music, however, sounds like something a twenty-something-year-old may find in their parent's dusty record collection. Banjos, guitars, piano and other instruments come together along side Stratton's voice and lyrics to create a folk, country sound. At times, the vocals sound unpolished, choosing volume and soul over a quieter polished sound.
Stratton's musical influences for this record come as no surprise as well. Influences include current Italian composer and conductor Ennio Morricone, as well as Romantic era composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Richard Wagner.
Folk music legends such as Woody Guthrie and Robert Johnson and North American Aboriginal music also helped shape the end result of this record. Stratton says the drums were heavily influenced by Aboriginal music giving it "a more organic quality."
These influences all come together on the opening track,November. The sounds of drums continue throughout the song as Stratton and backing vocals deliver passionate and emotion filled lyrics such as "oh I won't surrender, I don't want to eat your meals, I'm not going to swallow your pills". Piano, guitars and organs build a wall of sound in the background giving this song a haunting feeling.
The short instrumental piano track Lament provides a musical interlude halfway through the album that pays homage to the composer and conductors that have shaped Stratton's music.
Towards the end of the album, the track Phoenix starts to bring the album to a somber ending. The song starts off with the lonely sounds of vocals and acoustic guitar before bringing in some simple percussion, backing vocals and strings. By the end of the song, a range of vocals swirl together for a chorus of "ooh woah ooh's", providing the album with it's most tender moments.
Stratton the student
Stratton is currently attending NSCAD focusing on film, although he is not quite sure when he'll graduate. Music has always been part of his life, ranging from playing the family piano as a child to getting his first guitar when he was 12-years-old. He plays the guitar, banjo, trumpet, accordion and piano.
Highlights of his music career so far include playing with the University of King's College Orchestra in October and getting a shout out on stage from Mother Mother where lead singer, Ryan Guldemond, called Stratton a troubadour during one of their Halifax shows in November.
- Unews.ca

"High Score"

The air was abuzz with excitement at St. Andrew’s United Church on the evening of Monday, October 17, where the King’s College Orchestra joined forces with local indie musicians Nick Everett and Willie Stratton. The concert, Inventions, captivated its audience, earning an enthusiastic standing ovation. - The Watch Magazine (King’s College, Halifax, Canada)


Willie Stratton - 2011

The River EP - 2012

Deserter- 2014



"The songs are written and played like they matter, as if every word belted from front person Willie Stratton’s lungs absolutely need to be yelled for his own sanity." - Mixtape Magazine
"As far as sound is concerned, it was perfect... Truly dance-your-ass-off worthy... The energy coming from Willie Stratton & The Boarding Party during different parts of the set really set the bar for me. From jumping off drum kits and amps, to stomping their feet so hard I was sure they’d break through the stage, their show and music really left an impression on me." - The Scene Magazine
"If you haven’t had the opportunity to see Willie Stratton perform live you are doing yourself a great injustice... Two big thumbs up and a must see if they come through your area." - Halifax Blogger


  • Shared the stage with Elliott Brood, Mother Mother, Xavier Rudd, Wintersleep, and many more
  • Selected to attend the Gordie Sampson Songcamp led by Grammy Award winner Gordie Sampson - attended from 2012 - 2014
  • Won 1st place prize in the USA Songwriting Competition for co-writing I Faked It with Gordie Sampson and Mo Kenney
  • Won 2014 Music Nova Scotia Award for Alternative Album of the Year for Deserter
  • Nominated for 2015 Rising Star of the Year Award at the East Coast Music Awards
  • Nominated for 2013 Folk Artist of the Year Award at the Nova Scotia Music Awards 
  • Numerous Coast Readers' Choice Awards including gold for Best Folk Act and Best Dressed Band
Willie Stratton has been making quite a racket in his hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia the past couple of years, and the stubborn bastard is finally getting a move on and taking his music to a larger audience. With the help of an incredibly talented posse comprising of Anna Wedlock on fiddle, Jill Chambers on bass, Mike Kerr on guitar and Zach Crawford on steel guitar, Willie and his little swing orchestra create some of the best damn hot country jazz that you can shake, rattle, and roll to. Drawing from inspirations as wide as the lonesome sounds of the Sons Of The Pioneers to the ripping lines of Diz and Bird, these cow-boppers are sure to entertain and get you movin' while they're at it. The group hollars, picks, bows, and slaps their high energy concoction into a single microphone, the old way, 'cause it just sounds right. 
Keep your eyes peeled for their upcoming release Willie Stratton & His Gang Let Loose, it's gonna be hot. 

Band Members