Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Rucksack Willies
Letter to Anne

                My casual love for Roots/Bluegrass music is a friendship that still rears its head from time to time; I might get that thirst that needs quenched after hearing just a few fretboard notes from a mandolin or catch a commercial that uses some familiar three finger picking that I immediately start tapping my foot too, so when I was first introduced to The Rucksack Willies earlier this year I knew immediately that my casual love affair was about to get serious.

         With little fanfare, the release of The Rucksack Willies debut CD "Letter to Anne" should, nor I mean will further this groups following to include not only the downtown crowds that come to experience their astounding live shows that evoke memories of the Old Time Country and Bluegrass pioneers but new fans from coast to coast seeking out that sound to soothe the heart and burn the soul.

          Front-Woman Angela Hilts leads the charge with a voice that is not only beautiful but forceful; she does not let you down.  I'll put this down in writing, for Angela Hilts not to get a rightful place in the prestigious list of great Canadian Singer/Songwriters would most certainly be a crime. The rest of the band, group of musicians and singers that on any day could take a stage and burn it to the ground with their playing lay the base for a record that after seeing them live captures their live show perfect.

     "Letter to Anne" begins with the haunting tale of love lost "Beautiful Stranger", then moves its way through to tracks like "Higher" that showcases the astounding base vocal range of Lucas Gadke, we then swagger into "Summers Over" where you can picture the leaves falling and the winter air approaching. "Waiting for a Sign" just has this dirty, sexy semblance as it wages its war on our senses; this is one of my favorite tracks off of the record.  The records rounds out with "Take Me down", a tale of sin and consequence that starts with a one two bluegrass punch and never slows down, you can feel it being played in that small cabin deep within the Muskoka woods.

   Wrapping their enticing stories around music that hits you were the soul lives, The Rucksack Willies are a welcome addition to any musical library …I say put nudge them in between some Black Market Clash and Bill Monroe, then you have yourself a party.

The Rucksack Willies are:
Angela Hilts (vocals, guitar, banjo)
Megan Thomas (vocals, washboard)
Galen Pelley (drums)
Lucas Gadke (upright bass, vocals)
Adrian Gross (guitar, mandoline)
Michael Eckert (dobro, pedal steel)

"Letter to Anne" is available on iTunes

The band are currently playing every Monday night from 6 to 8 at The Cameron house in Toronto

Joe Cornelisse-SSGS

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