Gypsy / Ska / Folk – Victoria, BC
This acoustic ensemble has wandered from the underground of bohemian Victoria, in Canada’s lush west coast, to create a newly refined sound, crafted by years of performing and touring together. Their sound is influenced by flamenco learned in Spain, African percussion, bluegrass and other roots music from across the Americas.
TMO discovers vistas of creativity that bring them closer to their own beginnings, and to the people and places that have shaped them. They’ve found themselves playing smaller towns and venues over the years, places where the entire local population would gather for a show. The spirit of these places and these audiences left their mark, especially BC’s rural communities in the Interior, Kootenays, Yalakom Valley and the Gulf Islands, harboring beautiful, peaceful spots and wonderfully eccentric people.
TMO recorded their third album with David Travers-Smith (Deerhoof, Kiran Ahluwalia, Wailin’ Jennys). Follow My Lead, Lead Me to Follow, released in 2012, is the band’s most mature studio effort to date.
“Our sound comes from spending a lot of time together,” explains Kurt Loewen, the band’s guitarist. “The process with all the songs was so organic. But at the same time, 90 percent of them took a long time to get into the repertoire. It took two full years of touring, of us being together all the time, rehearsing, recording, leaving things off and putting them back on the set list. These songs are a creation of living.”
This creation of living has gotten the band passionately involved in a variety of causes, from protesting unwise logging practices in old-growth groves to bringing organic food sellers to their shows. They are also heavily engaged in working with at-risk children, in part through the Legacy Children’s Foundation’s highly successful Gift of Music programs in Loewen’s hometown of Calgary.
The band has played numerous festivals including the Calgary Folk Festival, Artswells Music Festival, Vancouver Island Music Festival, Skafest, South Country Fair, Harmony Arts, Ottawa Jazz Fest, Bliss Fest in Michigan, Folly Fest in Fredericton, Steel Jam in Bethlehem, PA, many arts council and concert series performances along with industry showcases at Folk Alliance in Memphis Tennessee and the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals. TMO has toured coast to coast in Canada 5 times, toured Europe once and travels to the States frequently.
“When people ask, “What influences you most?,” I have to answer, “Being part of the band,” Griffiths adds, the band’s accordionist. “There are other meta-influences in the background, but the biggest influence is the band itself. Our life together, the people we meet inspire new tunes.”