By Chad Ingram
From a real-life maple syrup heist to the Bluenose to the sweet relief of a snow day the music of Trent Severn is thoroughly interwoven with the white and red threads of Canadiana.
A folksy trio consisting of Stratford songstresses Dayna Manning Emm Gryner and as of recently lightning-fast fiddler Lindsay Schindler Trent Severn brought its three-part harmonies and finely crafted narrative-based tunes to the Minden United Church on Nov. 21 in a concert hosted by the Haliburton County Folk Society.
Decked in denim and patriotic plaid and apropos of the weather swirling outside the three kicked things off with O Snow from the band’s new album Trillium .
The contents of the songs are mined from Canada from the women’s lives from the places they’ve lived and the people they’ve known.
They are laced with references to Stompin’ Tom Connors “soakers” and milk being sold in plastic bags.
Bluenose on a Dime tells a tale of time spent living in a building with famous folkie Kate McGarrigle and her even-more-famous son Rufus Wainwright.
Freedom was written after a fan a member of the Royal Canadian Forces’ Snowbirds told Manning she should write a song about the aerial acrobats.
And so she did.
It’s an up-beat romp that stands as a tribute to the men and women of the armed forces and to which the Snowbirds have performed three times.
Stealin’ Syrup is based on a multi-million-dollar maple syrup heist (yes you read that correctly) that occurred in 2012 and is sung from the perspective of one of the thieves.
Gryner’s Goodbye to Sadness comes from time she spent in Ireland and is a cheers to friends across the Atlantic.
“We dedicate to this to anyone who brought a flask tonight” Gryner quipped.
The songs are wittingly written wrapped in pop-sensible packaging and embellished with flawless harmonization.
Flawless too is the musicianship from three veteran players; Manning on guitar Gryner on a ukulele bass that she correctly observed is more bass than ukulele and Schindler on violin.
Saturday night was actually Schindler’s first full performance with the band having very recently replaced Laura C. Bates which was obvious to precisely no one.
Heels on stomp boxes lend the sole percussive accompaniment providing a kitchen-party quality that jives perfectly with the aesthetic of the songs.
Not only were the girls garbed in “Haliburton dinner jackets” but so too were a few members of the audience giving way to a runway-style fashion showdown.
Trent Severn – yes the name is of course taken from the waterway – draw heavy influence from Canadian troubadour icons like Ian and Sylvia Tyson and Gordon Lightfoot.
Last year the trio played an annual concert series in Toronto paying tribute to Lightfoot.
“Gordon comes to the show and watches you play his songs so there’s no pressure” Manning cracked the band launching into a cover of Lightfoot’s Love and Maple Syrup .
Paying tribute to another Canadian musical icon King of the Background is a melancholic classically tinged homage to Richard Manuel a member of The Band from Manning’s hometown of Stratford who committed suicide following a gig in 1986.
Saturday’s show ended perhaps appropriately with an a capella version of O Canada .
For more on Trent Severn visit www.trentsevernband.ca.
For more on the folk society visit www.haliburtonfolk.com.