The Breakmen on tour:
January 28 – Harrison Festival Society, Harrison, BC
February 3 – The Chapel, Bowen Island, BC
February 4 – McKinney’s Pub – Powell River, BC
February 5 – Hermann’s Victoria, BC
February 8 – Joe’s Garage, Courtney, BC
February 9 – The Waverly Tavern, Cumberland, BC
February 10 – Hornby Island Community Hall, Hornby Island, BC
February 11 – St. James Hall, Vancouver, BC
February 13 – Carlin Hall – Salmon Arm, BC
February 14 – Central Cariboo Arts Centre – Williams Lake, BC
February 15 – The Minstrel Café, Kelowna, BC
February 16 – Revelstoke Arts Council, Revelstoke, BC
February 17 – Miner’s Hall, Rossland, BC
February 18 – The Royal, Nelson, BC
February 19 – Wild Bill’s, Banff, AB
February 22 – The Rockwater Grill and Bar, Golden, BC
February 23 – The Royal Canadian Legion, Jasper, AB
February 24 – Full Moon Folk Club, Edmonton, AB
February 25 – Nickelodeon Folk Club, Calgary, AB
Take a few musicians with bluegrass roots, grow them up in Canadian soil, nourish them with influences like the Band, Blue Rodeo and Neil Young, and cultivate their talents in the tree-planting camps of Northern British Columbia — and you’ll get the Breakmen, an award-winning West Coast indie-folk outfit and worthy heirs of the Canadiana tradition.
Having already won the Vox Pop Award for Americana Album of the Year at the Independent Music Awards, and having earned two Canadian Folk Music Award nominations for their previous album, When You Leave Town, the band is now embarking on Round Three of its tour to support its latest release, Heartwood.
With Heartwood, the band paid tribute to its Canadian roots-rock idols and sought to bring its impeccably-crafted songs and tight tight harmonies to a wider audience – with bigger drum sounds and lots of vintage electric guitar. Since taking the album on tour, the band has gradually evolved the rest of its repertoire to match, making for a show that grabs listeners from well beyond the folk and bluegrass milieu.
Heartwood has been praised by the Georgia Straight for the “meticulous craftsmanship of the songwriting, the strength of the lead vocals, and the tightness of the harmonies,” which it says “distinguish the quartet from other Canadian outfits mining a similar vein.” The San Francisco Guardian wrote they “bleed pure Americana,” while Germany’s Folkworld Magazine said the new album placed the band “on top of the Americana scene.”
The Breakmen formed in 2005, not long after chief songwriters Archie Pateman and Lee Watson and bassist Matthew Lawson returned from a rare tree-planting contract that saw them all living – and jamming – in the same camp. To round out the band, Pateman approached Ben Rogalsky, with whom he’d written music for an indie theatre production.
Rogalsky is from a musical family – his brother, Luke, played in the 90s rock band Mystery Machine, and his brother, Matt, is a member of the up-and-coming Kingston band the Gertrudes – and he has a degree in music from Simon Fraser University. He also has a background in music for theatre and is a former member of the Flying Folk Army. Watson and Lawson were childhood friends from Ontario, who had first played together during summer camp. Pateman too is from a musical family and, like Watson and Lawson, had been studying bluegrass as a way of improving his skills on his instruments.
Together, the band-members became regulars at Rime, a now-defunct live music joint on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive. They also started playing gigs around B.C. and across Canada, releasing three albums in the process.
Though their sound has evolved since the early days, their devotion to song-craft hasn’t. Pateman and Watson are forever studying great songs from all genres and evaluating their appeal …in an effort to write original work with the same kind of resonance.
Now, with their plugged-in new arrangements, they’ll be bringing those songs to an even bigger audience.