What happens when you put three national park wardens together and add superb musicianship, haunting harmonies, and chilling tales from men who’ve spent their lives protecting and conserving the most rugged of places – the wilderness of Canada’s mountain national parks?
You get critically acclaimed Banff folk/roots trio The Wardens, who are playing the Gate House Theatre in Port McNeill Nov. 14.
Wardens’ musician Ray Schmidt spoke with North Island Gazette Editor Tyson Whitney to help promote the upcoming show, which you can read in full below:
Tyson Whitney: Have you played Port McNeill before?
Ray Schmidt: We have never played Port McNeill before and in fact none of us have even been that far north in the Island before. So we’re very excited about coming up to the more remote part of the island.
Tyson Whitney: What are you looking forward to the most about playing this far north?
Ray Schmidt: We’re really looking forward to playing at the Gate House Theatre. What’s really special for us is coming up to a community and getting to be at the community gathering place and making it our home for the evening. It’s really an honour. It connects us in a very real way with the community and meeting people at our shows is such a great way for us to really get a sense of place. We share a lot of our stories at our shows and in many ways that brings out stories from our audience that we hear afterwards. So we feel lucky to get a window into a community in a way that you can’t if you’re driving through and stopping for gas on your way to somewhere else.
Tyson Whitney: How have you enjoyed playing Vancouver Island so far?
Ray Schmidt: We have played in Sidney and Victoria in 2018 and we were really not sure how people would connect with our music and stories. But we played at the Deep Cove Folk Society and sold the place out and it is still one of the best shows we’ve ever had. Our music is inspired by the land. And I think people living out here are really in touch with that and can relate to that. So we’re really excited to expand upward throughout Vancouver Island to towns like Port McNeill and Errington, Sayward and others. We just love playing smaller communities.
Tyson Whitney: Anything you want the community to know before the show?
Ray Schmidt: Our songs are inspired by our experiences protecting national parks. Scott Ward our lead man spent 35 years working as a national park warden and spent three years working in Pacific Rim National Park, performing rescues and working with wildlife and patrolling the park. This is really a homecoming trip for him as we’re doing a show in Ucluelet. His heart is very much still on the island and if a permanent position hadn’t come up for him back in Banff then he probably would have never left! We’re also bringing along our fiddler Scott Duncan with us, so we’ll be play as a 4 person unit. Normally we play as a trio but we thought for this tour we want to pull out all the stops. Scott is such a joy to play with and listen to, he’s one of the top fiddlers in western Canada and adds so much extra colour and texture to our stories and songs.
Tyson Whitney: Any other tour stops you want to mention?
Ray Schmidt: We are looking forward to kicking back and letting BC ferries do some of the driving for us. We’ll be in Sayward, Powell River and Port Alberni and evening Quadra island so we’re trying to really explore all corners of the area. You can check out all our show dates on our website – it’s a full program: http://thewardensmusic.com/shows.php