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The Wardens’ haunting, three-part harmonies and chilling tales reflect Canada’s protected wilderness

The band’s mountain music blends folk, roots and western styles
Award nominated Canadian folk group, The Wardens, played to a crowd at the Lester Centre in Prince Rupert on March 18. Photo by K-J Millar/Black Press

Hang on to your Stetsons, folks, as Friday, Jan. 20 will herald the first concert at the Big Yellow Merville Hall for 2023 with The Wardens, a Rocky Mountain-based band which doesn’t just sing about the land, they are part of it.

The stories and songs they sing about rise from the very land they’ve protected as True Blue Canadian National Park Wardens. With haunting, three-part harmonies and chilling tales, the band’s mountain music – blending folk, roots and western styles – reflects Canada’s protected wilderness areas. Celebrating the return of wild buffalo, wrangling grizzly bears, lonely nights on the pack trail and reflecting on an environment in crisis, a performance by The Wardens has been dubbed “the quintessential mountain-culture concert experience.”

Since 2009, when national park wardens Ray Schmidt and Scott Ward formed the band, they’ve been translating the high lonesome sound of the Kentucky hills to those of the Rocky Mountains. Ray’s vocals amplify the spirit of The Wardens’ Mountain music while Scott evokes the intricate fingerstyle guitar of Gordon Lightfoot with the mystique and presence of Ian Tyson. His is the embodiment of Canadian authenticity.

Naturally, there will be some sizzling fiddling included with the inclusion of Deputy Warden, Scott Duncan, a sought after, touring musician who has played fiddle on stage with the band since 2017. He likes joining The Wardens on the road so much that he makes every effort to be there when needed. He is their Deputy Warden!

Having released three albums, including sold out at the Ironwood, in 2021, the band has performed widely across western Canada and in the US, from Alaska to California. They’ve shared the stage with Blue Rodeo, Pharis & Jason Romero and the late, great Ian Tyson.

This will be a concert for all ages and is steeped in genuine Canadiana. Bring your cowboy hats and an appetite for some funtime music, Western style. On Friday, Jan. 20, the saloon doors of the Big Yellow Merville hall will swing open at 7 p.m. for a 7:30 show. For more background, check them out at The Wardens.

Tickets are $25 adult, $15 youth, at Long & McQuade, Courtenay; Blue Heron, Comox; and Music Plant, Campbell River. If not sold out, tickets at the door, too. You won’t be disappointed. FMI 250-339-4249.

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