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Kea Furniss holds traditional snowshoes, like those she wore during the Arctic Winter Games. - NNSL screenshot
Young Citizens hail from Yellowknife

Three Yellowknife students brought their heritage into the spotlight and are featured in the national Young Citizens program of Canada's History. News LinkContinued

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Yellowknifers in for a ride with Slowcoaster

'Genre-less' band set to play Folk on the Rocks
Dana Bowen
Northern News Services

Having thrived through the eras of bubble gum pop, pop-rock, hip hop, emo and indie, Slowcoaster's lead singer Steven MacDougall said his band has remained genre-less over the decades.

nnsl file photo

Mike LeLievre on bass, left, Steve MacDougall, guitar and vocals, and drummer Brian Talbot are performing as "genre-less" band Slowcoaster next month for Folk on the Rocks. - Facebook photo

The band, which sounds like a hybrid of rock, ska and reggae, is performing at Folk on the Rocks, marking their first visit to the territory.

"We've been everywhere basically, but Yellowknife we've never ventured," said MacDougall.

Slowcoaster has been around since 1999, starting with MacDougall and drummer Devon Strang who, after moving to B.C. from Nova Scotia, had an urge to create a sound of their own.

"Cape Breton Island is a very, very musical place," explained MacDougall. "Growing up, it was mostly traditional music. Then when we moved to Vancouver for two years to work and travel, we started to see music from Jamaica, Mexico, Costa Rica - it was very multicultural ... Coming from a very isolated island we thought, 'OK, let's bring all this together and bring it back home.'"

The duo wrote some songs inspired by a mix of the new styles they were introduced to.

Seventeen years later, MacDougall said the band has stuck to their guns in terms of remaining genre-less. In fact, he tries to avoid listening to too much of the same thing for fear of how it may affect Slowcoaster's sound.

"I've always been scared that if I listen to too much Dave Matthews, we'll start to sound like Dave Matthews," he said. "With other bands, you can tell who they listen to by how they play - I don't get that."

Over the years, the group has released close to 10 albums and EPs - or least that's what MacDougall guesses, saying he would have to Wikipedia himself to find out.

Slowcoaster has performed across the country at music festivals and other concerts, which has given bandmates a full-time career.

The band was largely recognized in the Maritime music scene through 2005 and 2006 when they toured consistently and headlined Nova Scotia's Evolve Festival, Stan Rogers Folk Festival and New Brunswick's Sunseekers Ball Music and Arts Festival, among others.

They won Music Nova Scotia's alternative group of the year in 2005 and an East Coast Music Association award for best alternative recording the following year.

While Slowcoaster's co-founder Strang had left the band in 2007 to raise a family, MacDougall, with new bandmates, has remained determined to keep the band going, adding he's never had a back-up plan for his life.

"No matter how long you've been doing it or how old you get, there's this weird feeling, like you get high from performing," he said. "You're always chasing the dragons of endorphins and ­when you get it, it's amazing. That's literally all I've ever done in my entire life."

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