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July 18 - 21

Artist Profiles

buttonspacer Grapes of Wrath
buttonspacer Hayden
buttonspacer Hey Ocean!
buttonspacer Owls By Nature
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Members of Owls By Nature are scheduled to perform at Folk on the Rocks next month. The festival runs from July 18 to 21. From left are Cory D (Donnahee), Fred Brenton, Ian McIntosh, Doc de Groot, and Sean Hamilton. - photo courtesy of Ian McIntosh

Owls by Nature to swoop into festival
Band is top of the flock among top Edmonton acts

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE
Members of Owls By Nature, a five-member, Edmonton-based folk group, hope to give audience members a memorable experience at Folk on the Rocks beginning July 18th.

Edmonton fans of the hardworking band have flocked to their gigs after Ian McIntosh and Sean Hamilton came together on stage three years ago. Since then, the core duo has expanded into a five-piece party band that has received attention from Rolling Stone magazine in Germany and a Group of the Year award by the Edmonton Music Awards. The band was also featured as Band of the Month by Sonic 102.9 FM in Edmonton last October.

Giving the band much of their bite include Cory D (Donnahee) on banjo, keys, and vocals, Doc de Groot on lead guitar, lap steel, mandolin, and vocals, and Fred Brenton on drums and melodica.

"It has been a pretty exponential growth," said McIntosh of the band's recent experience."We have only been a band for three years and we have done some pretty cool things."

The group was signed by Gunner Records of Germany, which has helped them get a European tour booked for this fall. Until then, members will be balancing a hectic work life to save money while fulfilling their increasingly demanding music life at home. McIntosh, for example, works as a sales representative with Yellowhead Brewery while Hamilton is in the midst of opening a new bar in downtown Edmonton later this year.

Along with the special treat Yellowknifers will get with the band as part of the Folk on the Rocks lineup, the music gigs for Owls will include a performance in front of an expected 60,000 to 80,000 people on Canada Day in Edmonton.

Work ethic is something McIntosh tries to relay as the key to the band's present good fortune.

"I don't believe that to be an artist, you have to be a starving one," he said. "I just think if you want something, you have to cater your life around it.

"If you focus your energy on something, good things will just happen and that is my outlook on it."

Owls By Nature have done particularly well since last September after releasing an album titled Everything Is Hunted. From that LP came two singles Heartbreaking Ways and Hurricane. The album received three stars in the German edition of Rolling Stone, and local radio stations have played both songs, including Hurricane which placed 63rd earlier this year on the alt-rock charts.

Heartbreaking Ways has been the band's staple show-ending song and the band has a YouTube video of the song filmed earlier this year at the attractive and historic Rossdale Mansion in Edmonton. The video features a beaten-up looking McIntosh sitting in a wheelchair, with equally bruised bandmates.

McIntosh said, based on reviews the band has had during past shows, particularly at Pouzza Fest in Montreal last year, their sound will appeal to fans of Bruce Springsteen, Arcade Fire, and Gaslight Anthem. But a comparison has been made to Mumford and Sons as well.

"The comparison has been and I don't necessarily agree with this but Mumford and Sons with balls," said McIntosh. "A lot of the music that happens I think are products of our environment. But we have full drums and electric lead guitar. So we are a little more on the rock side.

"I can see where the comparison is drawn and I think with my vocal style maybe, I have been told I look like Marcus Mumford."

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