It has been years since the pop music charts have been as diverse as they are today. Acts like Mumford and Sons, Vance Joy and the Zac Brown Band have served notice that it doesn’t always take synthesizers, drum machines and a Swedish production team to have a hit. Of course, this is something that Canadians have always known. True artists like Gordon Lightfoot, Ian Tyson and Anne Murray first brought Canadian music to the top of the charts around the world. In subsequent years, it was groups such as Blue Rodeo, Spirit of the West and Great Big Sea that kept the spirit alive and scored multi-platinum albums of their own. And now, The Washboard Union are prepared to turn everything upside down once again as they throw together a melting pot of music including bluegrass, country and rock in to one big stew and serve it with a spoonful of unbridled energy.
In the few years they have been together, The Washboard Union have defied classification and have become one of the most exciting and talked about new bands on the Canadian Country music scene. They’ve being nominated for Roots Artists of the Year by the British Columbia Country Music Association, have signed on with the country music power house management team at Sakamoto Entertainment and inked a recording deal Warner Music Canada/Slaight Music. The Washboard Union are a sextet out of Vancouver, British Columbia that are led by principle members Aaron Grain, Chris Duncombe and David Roberts. The three share a very similar unconscious soundtrack and unbridled love for the art of songwriting and storytelling. The three have been friends seemingly forever and the music they make has set them apart as one of the most unique talents in country music today. Aaron and Chris share a particularly special connection as the two were brought together at the age of 15 when Chris’s dad and Aaron’s mom began dating. “Instantly there was just this musical bond between us. It amazes me that we had such diverse musical influences when we started out and are still making music together now; and it really feels like we’re just getting started” recalls Grain.
Duncombe & Grain eventually packed up and left their hometown of Kelowna, BC. and ventured to Vancouver where they moved in to a magnificently beautiful 1920’s Tudor style mansion. By coincidence Roberts was himself renting in the same mansion and would occasionally join the brothers for impromptu single malt fueled jam sessions. It was here the all three began writing and singing together. These early session would be the kernels of what would blossom and eventually give rise to The Washboard Union. Living there at that time Roberts would reminisce “was like living in a garden gone to seed.” Grain provided guitar and vocals and Duncombe added his own voice and a banjo. Roberts, a singer and multi-instrumentalist with harmonica, guitar, mandolin and of course, the washboard in his arsenal, became the team’s secret weapon. “We call David the Sparkle as he’s got this vocal range that produces these unbelievably high notes. I cannot imagine ever not making music with him. He never ceases to surprise us with what he comes up with.” says Duncombe.”
The Washboard Union is an authentic blend of where country and bluegrass have come and where they are headed next. It is for that reason that the band has gathered so many fans along the way. Serving notice that they are not about to confirm to convention, the band’s independently released self-titled debut album was produced by noted rock producers GGGarth Richardson (Nickleback, Biffy Ckyro, Hedley) and Canadian Music Hall of Famer Bob Ezrin (Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd) – on the track “Half Cree” – whom the band are proud to call a friend and mentor. That record led to the band’s BC Country Music Association nomination.
In January 2015, The Washboard Union returned to Nashville, Tennessee to record their latest EP In My Bones in the legendary RCA Studio A. Originally built in 1964 as the home for Chet Atkins, RCA has been home to some of the most prolific recording artists in Nashville’s rich history including Dolly Parton, Tony Bennett, The Beach Boys, and more and more.“… Standing in the great room you can literally hear a chorus in every wall. It remains as one of the most legendary music rooms in the world. I can tell you this, you don’t sing in Studio A, Studio A sings to you” says David Roberts.
In My Bones was produced by Trey Bruce (Faith Hill, Randy Travis, Diamond Rio), a name known well in Nashville circles and one of people responsible for saving RCA Studio A from potential demolition. The band met Trey after having written the song “Someday” together earlier in 2014. Trey called the band immediately after that first session and demanded he take the producer helm for the bands next record. The answer, of course, was “yes.” The Washboard Union were joined on the recording of this album by a group of accomplished Nashville musicians including Bob Britt (Dixie Chicks) on guitar, Greg Morrow (George Strait , ZZ TOP) on drums, Michael Brignardello (Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan) on bass and long time guitar player Craig ”Long Haul” McCaul.
The Washboard Union is a band that you simply have to see live to fully appreciate and in the summer of 2015 they will share the stage with some of the biggest names in country music including Keith Urban, Reba Macintyre, The Band Perry, Big N Rich and more