You don’t necessarily need to have the best player at any one position, but you need someone who is going to produce when they’re in the lineup.
When you think about it, it’s the same with a band. The best guitar player in the city isn’t necessarily the person you need to really make your songs soar.
It for sure helps if they’re the best, but the chemistry might not be there and they produce in the spot you have them earmarked for.
That’s the challenge that faces 19-year-old Josh Batstone as he awaits responses to his ad looking for musicians to help form a traditional Newfoundland and Labrador-Irish band in the Corner Brook area.
A transplanted east coaster and lover of the Irish sound, Batstone moved to the area with his guitar in tow for school at the College of the North Atlantic.
He’s done a couple of open mics around the city and has received a good response from his listeners.
Why traditional when it’s becoming increasingly obvious that country — might be more accurate to call it bro-country — and hip hop dominate the music landscape? It’s simple, really.
It’s what he grew up on and still listens to each day.
Since picking up his father’s guitar and teaching himself how to play it, the traditional sound is all he’s been concerned with.
He figues his favourite tune is Great Big Sea’s seminal hit “Goin’ Up.”
Batstone is looking for a guitarist, a bass player, vocalists, an accordion player and a fiddler. All are staples of the Irish scene in this province.
No sign of a tin whistle, but there’s still time.
Being a relative newbie to the Corner Brook area like Batstone, I’ve noticed a couple of things about the area musically — which are not how I pictured things, given Dick Nolan got his start on this side of her and the Isle aux Mort Boys have been a staple along the southwest coast for decades.
One of them is that some guys will follow Neil Young’s “Ohio” with U2’s “With or Without You,” but that’s a different column.
The other is there seems to be a smaller-than-anticipated Irish music community. I mean, there are the usual tunes everyone in this province plays, but it’s almost as if they’re done in a more rock-inspired tone than you’d expect.
It’s something Batstone is hoping to change.
He points to the Masterless Men’s versions of “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “House of the Rising Sun” as instances where traditional arrangements can work when applied to rock songs.
It’s not just the usual stuff he wants to play, either. There’s more to traditional than Harry Hibbs and what your grandfather listens to on Sunday mornings.
He sees offering traditional arrangements to pop songs and anything else that strikes his fancy.
That’s the vision Batstone has when he thinks about his prospective band.
“There’s so much of the other stuff around,” he said.
— Nicholas Mercer is the online editor at The Western Star. He believes there’s a large market to fill when it comes to traditional music on the west coast. If he’s wrong about it, let him know. He lives in Corner Brook and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.