The Duhks

duhksThe Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Duhks have always gravitated towards traditional roots-based song structures, but they've never stopped evolving since their inception five years ago. Due in part to a collective musical worldview that knows no boundaries, that evolution led the band to their latest offering Fast-Paced World, the first Duhks record to feature prodigies Sarah and Christian Dugas (replacing vocalist Jessee Havey and percussionist Scott Senior respectively). It's an album that reflects the quintet's newfound confidence, with Sarah bringing five original songs to the band's encyclopedic collection of originals and covers both old and new.

The French-Canadian born Dugas siblings have been immersed in music their whole lives, thanks in part to their musician parents. "We had a family band that toured across Canada when I was 7 and Christian was 9," remembers Sarah. "My father had a recording studio in the house, so I grew up hearing a variety of musicians playing everything from rap to rock to world beat. I grew up in a fun and creative environment."

Dugas' emergence as a songwriter has clearly contributed to the group's progression — the other members are fiddler Tania Elizabeth, guitarist Jordan McConnell and founder/banjo player Leonard Podolak — from the jaunty pop of "You Don't See it" to the jazz-waltz of "This Fall," the Duhks' enthusiastic fan base has embraced the changes. "The reaction has been really positive," says Dugas. "We've been able to keep the old fans and gotten some new ones as well."

“There's a more liberal attitude in the band when it comes to songwriting approaches,” admits Podolak. That attitude has even extended to drummer Christian's use of a full kit, in contrast to the band's previous use of just percussion. "My musical tastes have broadened immensely since we first started,” Podolak adds. “I think we've evolved musically, while maintaining our roots, but everybody in the band listens to so many different things, it was bound to happen.”

It's that kind of musical DNA that makes the band's spot-on fusion of traditional bluegrass, folk rock, Afro-Cuban jazz and soul so accessible and yet so hard to pigeonhole. It's also earned them a Grammy Award nomination in the Best Country Vocal Performance category as well as a Juno award in their native Canada.

Accolades aside, the band doesn't see any reason to pull their punches lyrically, as Dugas laments on the funky title track, "We've forgotten what's sacred in this fast-paced world."  "It's a song that's essentially about over-consumption," remarks Podolak. "We've all grown up with an outlook where's there's enough for everyone without destroying the earth."

Environmental issues are a passion for the band, inspiring them to launch The Duhks Sustainability Project (www.greenduhks.com) in October 2007. Spearheaded by Tania Elizabeth, the band's goal is to "tour on as sustainable a basis as possible; fueling our vehicle with Biodiesel, supporting local organic farmers wherever we go, wearing sustainable eco-conscious clothing, using earth-friendly shampoos, soaps and cosmetics and offsetting remaining CO2 emissions with carbon credits." 

"As a band, it's something we feel very strongly about," says Podolak. "We just want to reduce our carbon footprint as much as humanly possible."

Fast Paced World was produced by the Nashville-based Jay Joyce (Patty Griffin, John Hiatt), who joins an impressive set of producers (Béla Fleck, Tim O'Brien) before him. "Jay's basement studio was like something out of the Star Trek Enterprise," laughs Podolak. Despite trying to quit smoking at the time (4 nicotine patches at once!), Joyce was "very open to our ideas and very easy to work with. I also think he learned as much from us as we did from him about combining the acoustic and electric elements of our songs in a studio setting," continues Podolak. 

As the band continues their own musical evolution, Fast-Paced World illustrates just how far the Duhks have come - and just how far they're willing to go to challenge themselves artistically.   Ulitimately, though, according to Leonard, the Duhks "just want to play music that speaks to everybody."   Mission accomplished.

April 10 {Fri}
Rams Head On Stage
33 West Street
Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 268-4545
8:00pm
   
 
April 12 {Sun}
World Cafe Live
3100 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 222-1400
7:30pm
   
 
April 13 {Mon}
The Highline Ballroom
431 W 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 414-5994
8:00pm
   
 
April 14 {Tue}
Harpers Ferry
158 Brighton Avenue
Allston, MA 02134
(617) 254-9743
9:30pm
   
 
April 17 {Fri}
Chameleon Club
223 N. Water Street
Landcaster, PA 17603
(717) 299-9684
10:00pm
   
 
April 18 {Sat}
Capital Ale House
623 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 794-6700
   
 
April 22 {Wed}
The Jewish Mother
3108 Pacific Avenue
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
(757) 422-5430
9:00pm
   
 
April 24 {Fri}
Merlefest
1328 S Collegiate Dr
Wilkesboro, NC 28697
(800) 343-7857
3:45pm / 5:15pm
   
 
April 26 {Sun}
Stagecoach Country Music Fest
81-800 Avenue 51
Indio, CA 92201
   
 
May 2 {Sat}
Oberlin College
135 West Lorain Street
Oberlin, OH 44074
(440) 775-8121
6:00pm
   
 
May 21 {Thu}
Camp Mather
Strawberry Music Festival
35250 Mather Road
Groveland, CA 95321
(209) 984-8630
5:15pm
   
 
June 19 {Fri}
The Music Camp
199 Childress Road
Spartanberg, SC 29307
8:00 pm
   
 
June 26 {Fri}
Schenley Plaza
4100 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
(412) 682-7275
5:00pm
   
 
July 9 {Thu}
La Fete de Marquette
50 South Baldwin Street
Madison, WI 53703
9:00 pm
   
 
July 10 {Fri}
Bastille Day Festival
Cathedral Square Park
Milwaukee, WI 53202
5:00pm / 9:15pm
   
 
July 18 {Sat}
Master Musicians Feestival
Somerset, KY 42502
(606) 677-2933
8:00pm
   
 
July 24 {Fri}
Blue Cow Pavilion
Floyd Fest
Milepost Marker 170.5 Blue Ridge Parkway
Floyd, VA 24091
   
 
August 6 {Thu}
Iron Horse Music Hall
20 Center Street
Northampton, MA 01060
(413) 586-8686
7:00 pm
   
 
August 7 {Fri}
Infinity Hall
20 Greenwoods Road W
Norfolk, CT 06058
(860) 542-5531
7:30pm
   
 
August 8 {Sat}
ArtsQuest
Musikfest
25 W. Third Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015
(610) 332-1300
   
 
August 15 {Sat}
Mulberry Mountain
Harvest Music Festival
4117 Mulberry Mountain Loop
Ozark, AK 72949
(866) 667-1919
11:30am
   
 
August 26 {Wed}
Anthology
1337 India Street
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 595-0300
10:00pm
   
 
August 27 {Thu}
Levitt Pavilion
85 E. Holly Street
Pasadena, CA 91103
(626) 683-3230
8:00pm
   
 
August 29 {Sat}
Mountain Sage
18653 Main Street
Groveland, CA 95321
(209) 962-4686
5:00pm
   
 
September 4 {Fri}
Ninigret Park
Rhythm & Roots Festival
4890A Old Post Road
Charlestown, RI 02813
(315) 738-0356
   
 
November 11 {Wed}
Black Oak Casino
19400 Tuolumne Road North
Tuolumne, CA 95379
(877) 747-8777
8:00pm
   
 
November 14 {Sat}
Castoro Cellars Winery
1315 N. Bethel Road
Templeton, CA 93465
(805) 238-0725
   
 
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