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Merville’s Big Yellow Hall to showcase unconventional but traditional bluegrass

Veranda is a four piece bluegrass band that started as the duo of Léandre Joly-Pelletier and Catherine-Audrey Lachapelle. They will be performing Wednesday, June 12th the Big Yellow Merville Hall with Porch Couch. Photo contributed

On Wednesday, June 12, the Big Yellow Merville Hall will be full of the music of two dynamite bluegrass/old time bands, Montreal’s Veranda and Toronto’s Porch Couch.

Both bands will also be performing at the June Cowichan Bluegrass Festival so the festival organizers have offered those who attend the Merville show a $35 discount at Cowichan. That means that you’ll actually make money by attending the Merville show. The mind boggles!

Veranda is a four piece bluegrass band that started as the duo of Léandre Joly-Pelletier and Catherine-Audrey Lachapelle. The two originally met at Barfly, a cozy watering hole regarded as a Montreal Bluegrass institution. They quickly became friends, then musical partners, then began writing music together. And so Veranda was born.

Joly-Pelletier is a virtuoso on the guitar and a sought-after, multi-instrumentalist who has worked extensively with many well-established folk, country and bluegrass artists. Lachapelle is a professional actress known for her role in Radio-Canada’s hit TV show “District 31.” The duo soon expanded into a four-piece bluegrass band featuring award-winning fiddler, Kieran Poile, who is formerly from the Comox Valley.

After a well-received first EP released in 2019, Veranda has a new record of original French and English bluegrass music that blends the traditional and contemporary with simplicity and virtuosity. Their music is filled with sweet harmonies and soulful melodies. From high lonesome bluegrass to intimate folk ballads, the duo offers a fresh take on classic Country music. It’s been said that Veranda calls home a place way out in the countryside, with Dolly Parton, Ralph Stanley and Emmylou Harris singing under the pines. The Merville Hall will be the perfect country music hall.

Porch Couch features Jaron Freeman-Fox and Alan Mackie. This dynamic duo is reanimating old-time and square dance tunes from Appalachia and beyond on fiddle and banjo. They deftly balance a deep respect for tradition against all the times they’ve shirked it: throat singing with Norwegians in a Siberian yurt camp, modern dancers leaping across tables at the PWYC bar gig, or playing for ravers under the midnight sun while the drummer bangs pool cues on the floor. Wry, colourful, and psychedelic, Porch Couch is an original sound in traditional music that moves listeners and dancers alike.

So, on Wednesday, June 12, make your way to the Big Yellow Merville hall. Doors open at 7 p.m. for a 7:30 show. Tickets are $25/$10 (youth) at Long & McQuade, Courtenay; Blue Heron, Comox; and at the door, too.