Yukon country band The Lucky Ones rolls into Orillia on summer tour

Yukon country band The Lucky Ones played in Orillia on Thursday for their summer tour that has stops in Ontario, Quebec, the Northwest Territories, as well as its home territory.

The band spoke with Global News ahead of its show at The Brownstone yesterday to talk about their eponymous debut album, which released in November, its musical inspirations and what’s next.

“There’s six of us originally, and we’re touring with five right now,” Ryan West, the band’s mandolin player, told Global News.

“We have two guitars, a fiddle, mandolin, double bass and banjo, but we’ve been touring without our banjo so far.”

Everyone in the group lives in or is from the Yukon, but many of the members live in different communities, which sometimes makes rehearsing and learning new songs difficult, according to Josh McCallen, one of the band’s guitar players.

But with the help of technology, West said the group is able to send demos back and forth between one another.

“We put our ideas together and then kind of go apart and work on them and come back,” he said.

West said Willie P. Bennett, the Dixie Flyers and Hank Williams are his musical inspirations. McCallen added he’s been influenced by those artists, but also by Fred Eaglesmith and other folk writers.

“We were really inspired by this old time, kind of country stuff that’s going on and still goes on in the north, between Northwest Territories and Alaska and Nunavut, and of course, the Yukon,” West said.

When The Lucky Ones first started, they were often called a bluegrass band, McCallen said.

“We are not a bluegrass band. We are a hillbilly, honking-tonking, foot-stomping, good-time band,” he said, adding, however, that the group still plays some bluegrass music.

According to West, the name of the band comes from his and McCallen’s favourite book, No Great Mischief, by Alistair MacLeod.

In the book, West said, the protagonist and his sister are raised by their grandparents because their parents drowned after falling through ice. The protagonist and his sister, he added, are referred to as lucky in the book because they were raised by their grandparents.

“Really it insinuates that they’re unlucky. So that’s kind of where it’s like everything is great and we love life, but it’s not always the best,” West said. “We really kind of related with that.”

McCallen said the group hopes to have its second record out by spring 2020.

“We already have at least two thirds of the material for it, I think, so we’re getting there,” he said.

The band will play in Toronto on Friday and at the Peterborough Folk Festival on Saturday and Sunday.

“We played venues where little kids are there dancing, and we played gigs where old, grey-haired people are dancing, and we played gigs where all the hip young kids are out dancing,” West said.

“That’s what it’s really about, is spreading across all those generations and helping to create a good environment.”

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