What happens when you combine a nice glass of rye on the rocks stirred with a hearty appreciation of bluegrass, folk, pop and country?
Ben Plotnick and Jarred Albright’s Rye & Fairy Tales is the resulting concoction. And while they won’t be bringing the booze, they’ll definitely bring the mix to the Water Valley Church Aug. 19 as part of their 2015 Alberta tour.
As their project started to take shape, they began to notice two reoccurring themes: “Drinking songs is a weird term, but something along those lines. And then we were writing a lot of songs about heartbreak,” Plotnick said.
And boy did that combo seem like natural bedfellows. How many songs have been written about the two?
“It’s a big thematic part of bluegrass music,” he said.
The duo met as young fiddle players in Calgary and toured extensively around the world, where they honed their musicality. But it wasn’t until they started living together that things really took off.
“We spent so long living together we probably feel almost like we’re brothers in the sense that we know each other really well.”
They’ve lived together going on seven years and then moved out to Toronto, where a vibrant bluegrass scene in the Canada’s biggest urban centre took them by surprise.
“In Alberta, there are touring bands, but in terms of bluegrass musicians it’s not such a big thing in Calgary.”
After experiencing the all too common trials and tribulations of “musicians moving-to-the-Big Smoke” process – and lots of whisky – the duo released their self-titled album in 2012 and continue to navigate the industry while balancing their creative drive with working demands. While Toronto has offered them much opportunity, Plotnick said the pair is thrilled to be setting off on a tour of home base. “It feels as though the number of musicians that come out of Alberta is much smaller. So it’s great to come back.”
He cited Water Valley Church as an excellent venue for their type of project. “One of the most beautiful acoustic venues – not even having to plug in a sound-system.”
Along with Plotnick on guitar and Albright playing mandolin, a harmony vocalist, banjo player and bassist will accompany the duo. Tickets for the Rye & Fairy Tales’ Aug. 19 show are available at benplotnick.com/tickets or ryeandfairytales.com.