durham county poets
There's something about the Durham County Poets that leaves you feeling that everything might be OK in the world after all. There's a human spirit that lives in these people and their music is the medium that allows that spirit to roam free. Their music, their spirit, is authentic...it centers around a love for the songs and for each other. We've had more than our share of brilliant performances at The Extended Play Sessions but deeply moving, spiritual experiences are much fewer in number. This performance was one of those deeply moving, transformative events that you don't want to end. I've heard that and seen it written before about this Canadian quintet but after experiencing it first hand it becomes a bigger part of the narrative. It's like seeing The Band in their heyday, feeling the multiple layers of texture and complexity, watching 5 master players converse with each other. No one raises their voice, each one adding only what is necessary to tell the story but each voice distinct. Telling stories is what the Durham County Poets do...and they do it well.
The elephant in the room with Durham County Poets is front man Kevin Harvey. Immediately drawn to the fact that he's confined to a wheelchair following a tragic accident some 3 decades ago aside, it is Harvey's indelible spirit and mischievous personality that overshadows the challenge. The body may be damaged but the soul, the voice and the man are are testimony to the strength of the human spirit. These four band mates take care of him like a brother and that love of family is evident in every moment.
And oh, that band...To take on the complexity of style and cross genres with ease and authenticity takes talent and feel and Durham County Poets have both. David Whyte is a masterful guitarist with understated ability. Play the song, serve the music and let the rest take care of itself. He's a brilliant player confined only by the need to do what is essential. Equally talented is guitarist Neil Elsmore who handles the acoustic and slide chores adding layers of texture to the music. Upright bass player Carl Rufh glides between churning rhythm and bass fiddle drone using a bow. His contribution is depth of field, the mellow darkness of songs like "Grimshaw Road" and the fragility of the human condition of "Afraid of the Wrong Things" to the upbeat "Monday Morning" or traditional blues of "Still Waters." Rob Couture rounds out the band with perfection and subtlety on drums.
The Durham County Poets
Kevin Harvey - vocals, kazoo
Carl Rufh - bass, vocals, trombone
Neil Elsmore - acoustic guitar, vocals
David Whyte - guitar, vocals
Rob Couture - drums
Guest - Jackie Damsky - fiddle
The Session Crew
Produced and edited by:
H. Nat Stevens
Dan Busler Photography