NASHVILLE, TN: An acclaimed Canadian folk quartet is bringing a fresh take on traditional fiddle tunes to Atlantic Canada.
Juno Award-winning string group The Fretless will perform at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique on March 22. The group draws from a wide variety of fiddle traditions ranging from Celtic, to bluegrass, to create unique and lively arrangements for two fiddles, viola, and cello.
“We just have a total affinity for these fiddle traditions, and we try to find our own sound in combining all of that,” said fiddler Ben Plotnick. “It comes across as a fusion of a whole bunch of different things, but in a very high energy context. We really take pride in our live show.”
The quartet is comprised of Karrnnel Sawitsky of Saskatoon, Vancouver-based Trent Freeman, and Eric Wright of Vermont. Plotnick, originally from Calgary, currently lives in Nashville and is the newest member to the group. Most of the musicians knew each other from an early age through their involvement with traditional music.
“We met playing at fiddle contests and fiddle camps and through the Western Canadian fiddle scene which is not massive,” said Plotnick. “It’s not big enough for us not to have known each other, I guess.”
Since their debut album Waterbound in 2012, The Fretless has released three successful albums including Bird’s Nest which earned the group a 2017 JUNO award for Instrumental Album of the Year. Their upcoming performance will feature new music from their fourth album Live from the Art Farm which is scheduled for release in April.
“It’s a live record. We recorded it straight to tape on three microphones in front of an audience,” said Plotnick.
Their East Coast tour will include performances in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. It will be Plotnick’s first time performing with the group in Atlantic Canada.
“The East Coast is such a big influence on the band. It feels really amazing to get to go play there,” said Plotnick. “It’s a big part of the band’s sound.”
Although The Fretless combines East Coast, Irish and old-time music with elements of other styles, Plotnick says the group strives to do justice to the fiddle traditions that have inspired them throughout their careers.
“What I hope sets us apart is that we do have a lot of experience playing these tunes,” said Plotnick. “The traditions themselves have been such a huge part of our lives.”
After the release of their new album, The Fretless has a busy touring schedule for the summer, including performances at the Shetland Folk Festival and Tradfest in Edinburgh, Scotland. For information on their music and upcoming performances visit: thefretless.com.