“I’ve been trying to book them for two years,” says Danny Sullivan, who programs the series, but they’re just such a high-demand act, that until now we haven’t been able to get them to MERA. I first saw them in Kingston, and I was just blown-away.”
With two highly-acclaimed albums under their belts, New Country Rehab have been taking the folk/roots music community by storm – across Canada, and throughout the US. They aren’t strangers to Eastern Ontario, having appeared at both Blue Skies and Perth’s Stewart Park Festival in recent years.
“Seeing an act at a festival is great,” says Sullivan, “but it isn’t the same as seeing them in a full concert setting. At a festival, you get a taste, but a concert setting gives you the full meal.”
NCR’s leader, fiddler and lead-singer John Showman is no stranger to MERA Schoolhouse, having appeared there as a sideman and member of other groups on several occasions in the past, notably with his good friend, Joey Wright.
New Country Rehab cuts through the clutter of watered-down musical imitations with a modern, high-voltage, alt-country sound. Combining sharp innovation and a deep respect and knowledge of timeless musical themes and motifs, New Country Rehab’s powerful music is full of love, loss, longing and joy. They are “more Arcade Fire than Lady Antebellum…like Canada’s answer to the Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons” (Nigel Williamson, UNCUT, Jan. 2012)
John Showman is joined by Anthony da Costa on guitar, Ben Whiteley on double bass and Roman Tomé on drums and backing vocals. The Toronto-based collective is ”poised to be the next big thing in Canadian music” (Tom Power, CBC Radio). Growing audiences in Canada, the U.S. And Europe are responding to New Country Rehab’s infectious love and enthusiasm for the music they are playing. The band make it, “super accessible, not only to fans of roots/folk/country, but even to the broader, less country inclined audience” (Josef Jensen, Indie Artist Podcast)
This artistic vision and original writing has earned the respect of many critics, “a debut that demonstrates class” (Rootstime.be) and welcome receptions of audiences, “…even with the deep pool of technical talent here, the focus is on maintaining a mood over all else”(torontoist.com). Maverick magazine’s Russell Hill describes the band’s sound as “Successfully merging the old and new in a rambunctious way”and describes the band as having “their feet planted firmly on the ground, this Canadian band has the right intentions and there is to be no stopping them.” (March 2012)
Their 2011 debut, self-titled album was received with glowing and international praise by reviewers. The group blends lyrical sensibility and musical focus to produce exceptional original songs. From the first track, Angel of Death, “…fiddle and [vocal] harmonies take us back to the past, but modern guitars and pedals still explode into huge choruses that jump-start the songs and help the band standout” (Bryan Acker, Herohill.com). The haunting mood of Cameo, a contemplative tale of escape and redemption, provides a beautiful contrast to the gritty tale of a gambler’s endgame, The Last Hand, a rollicking interplay of fiddle and guitar riffs underpinned by driving bass and percussion that builds relentlessly to the violent climax and denouement of the story.
Not afraid to show it’s influences, New Country Rehab takes the Hank Williams, Sr. classic Ramblin’ Man, chews it up and spits it out as an eerie, dub-drenched trip through a mournful latin groove. The group reinvents Bruce Springsteen’s seminal State Trooper with police sirens and jarring, distorted hooks to imbue it with “…a menace even the original struggles to match”Andy Fyfe, Q Magazine Jan. 2012). Recorded by Roots and Indie-Rock producer, Chris Stringer (Obijou and Timber -Timbre) New Country Rehab highlights the group’s original compositions and deep musical palette.
New Country Rehab appear at MERA Schoolhouse in McDonald’s Corners on Sunday, March 8, at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $22 in advance ($20 for MERA members) and are available at Ticket’s Please at 39 Foster St. In Perth (Jo’s Clothes), by phone at 613-485-6434 or online at www.ticketsplease.ca. Tickets can be reserved at Tickets Please and held for pick-up at the door.