Scott Ward, Bradley Bischoff and Ray Schmidt make up The Wardens, a Banff National Park-based trio whose stories rise from the very land they’ve protected for the past 60+ years. Photo submitted

Musical mountain tales from those who live them every day

The Wardens bring their Rocky Mountain folk to the Heriot Bay Inn Nov. 16

What’s better than dinner and a show?

Well, not much, especially if that dinner is being put on by the Heriot Bay Inn on Quadra Island and the show is a trio of long-time-park-rangers from the Canadian Rockies who are touring their second full-length folk album – and some new songs they’re working on for a third – studded with legends, tragedy and picturesque landscapes you can somehow actually hear and feel.

The Wardens – the critically-acclaimed trio in question – have come together to produce music with a haunting quality, exploring the chilling tales of men who have spent their lives protecting and conserving the most rugged of places – the wilderness of Canada’s national parks.

With performances equal to the mastery of the ranger trade, The Wardens’ mountain music – blending folk, roots and western styles – is a piece of Canadiana reflecting the pristine wilderness of the Rocky Mountains. The trio has now released two full-length albums and one EP.

The most recent release by the group is their 2017 album, Sleeping Buffalo, which features 12 tales of mountain legends, tragedy, the regeneration of a species, and the landscape of love. Produced by Leeroy Stagger at Rebeltone Ranch Studio, the album boasts renowned musicians Calvin Vollrath on the fiddle and Gideon Freudmann on the cello.

Since the release of Sleeping Buffalo, The Wardens have been touring and working on new songs and stories for their next album expected to be released next year.

“This fall we’re excited to get on the road and perform some of the new material we’ve been working on for our new album,” says vocalist/bassist Ray Schmidt. “We love the process of bringing songs to our audiences before we go into the studio so we can really get a feel for them. A song always sounds different outside of the rehearsal space and playing them live lets us know if we’re on the right track. This fall we’re also adding more video to our live show. For those that have seen our show in the past they know and love the stunning images we present alongside our music, and now we take the next step with the addition of some video material.”

The Wardens are known for their captivating live show and have performed as far away as Alaska and California, at Folk Alliance International, on the Canmore Folk Festival’s main stage, and have headlined the San Diego Folk Club. They’ve also shared the stage with the likes of Canadian legends Blue Rodeo, Pharis & Jason Romero, and Ian Tyson.

But they really like hitting far-flung, out-of-the-way places like small hotels on remote islands, like the Nov. 16 show at the Heriot Bay Inn.

“We’ve performed from Alaska to San Diego, from Portage La Prairie to Kitimat, and by far our favourite places to play are the small venues that Google Maps struggles to find,” Shmidt says. “We’ve spent our lives in those kinds of places so it feels like we’re coming home and somebody has already stoked the wood stove in anticipation.”

Tickets for the Nov. 16 Heriot Bay Inn event are $59 for both the two-course dinner and the show, but there are also a few seats available for just The Wardens’ concert – which begins after dinner – for $39. You can reserve your spot by calling the HBI at 250-285-3322.

Check out The Wardens’ title track from Sleeping Buffalo as performed at the Calgary Folk Music Club in 2018 for a taste of what you might be in for at the HBI on the 16th.

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