by Martyna Turczynowicz
The Crooked Brothers have been making a name for themselves since the release of their previous albums Deathbed Pillowtalk (2009) and Lawrence, Where’s Your Gun? (2011) and proved to not be just another folk trio. Their songs range from foot-stomping tunes to heart wrenching ballads, many of them with a special focus on their hometown, Winnipeg.
“Where we live is a big part of who we are so it definitely seeps in,” says Baker, who plays harmonica, dobro, and sings in the band. “We’ve spent most of our whole lives here, except for a bit of touring and traveling. It’s definitely shaped who we are.” Songs from their previous albums, like “Sunday Dress” and “Windsor Beer” have all referenced favourite spots in Winnipeg, from watering holes to apartments.
“There’s definitely a degree of writing what you know in your music, whether it’s writing about your hometown or writing about heartbreak. It makes it really relatable.”
“Kennedy,” a track from their latest album Thank You, I’m Sorry is not only about heartbreak, it also references a certain apartment on Kennedy that has become a little legend among musicians and artists in the ‘Peg. “That apartment that Matt technically still has the lease to, originally it was Paul Butler who did the front cover of the record, he passed it on to Kyle Sherman who’s a good friend of ours, who did a big piece on the inside of the record.”
Now the apartment is in hands of local cowboy Micah Erenberg [ed. note: see feature on page XX], who agrees, that the apartment is something special.
“Kennedy is a magical place. You can make music at all hours. Within the first two weeks of moving in, I had a late-night impromptu jam with Darwin Baker , Matt Foster, Richard Inman, Amber Quesnel (Sweet Alibi), Vince Andrushko, Andrina Turenne (Chic Gamine), Simon Davis and Gabriel Fields (Mariachi Ghost). Matt assured us it would be fine.” Erenberg is pretty sure that “It’s the only apartment in town that you can jam with that many people until 6am.”
While all the members write songs and get together to really put them together, some of their songs come from what Baker calls “spontaneous jammage, that can happen in a porch or a hotel room or something.”
Spontaneous jamming, is what really brought a track from their latest album “Pass Me By” to life. “‘Pass Me By’ we recorded in a log home,” Baker says. But when the band was touring Italy, the song took on a new life of its own. “We got rowdy on Prosecco and the song took on a new life. We came home and listened to the recording we’d done and were like, ‘this is too tame.’ So we went back to the studio and recorded it live off the floor, and tried to harness some of that energy.”
The Crooked Brothers recorded parts of Thank You, I’m Sorry in “a giant log home at Cloverdale Farm, a B&B outside of Selkirk,” Baker says. The acoustics in there, he continues were fantastic. “It had a nice relaxed feel. The first two albums were recorded in cabins at Falcon Trails resort, so we’re used to the process of recording in more rustic spaces.”
Soon the Crooked Brothers will be hitting the road once more to tour the new album Thank You, I’m Sorry. Then on December 12th, they’ll be back in Winnipeg for their album release party at the West End Cultural Centre. Tickets are 20$. Doors open at 7:15, show starts at 8:00.