The Dead South
|Origin||Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada|
The Dead South is a folk-bluegrass musical ensemble based in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. The band was initially formed in 2012 as a quartet by Nate Hilts (vocals, guitar, mandolin), Scott Pringle (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Danny Kenyon (cello, vocals) and Colton Crawford (banjo). Crawford left the band in 2015 and was replaced by studio musician Eliza Mary Doyle before rejoining in 2018. Kenyon left the band in 2020 after sexual misconduct allegations, but rejoined in 2021.
The band played live venues before releasing their debut five-song 2013 EP, The Ocean Went Mad and We Were to Blame. Their 2014 album Good Company was released by German label Devil Duck Records, and led to significant overseas touring for the next two years. The album's single "In Hell, I'll Be in Good Company", and its accompanying video on YouTube, are credited with contributing to the breakthrough release for the band.
The Dead South have released three studio albums: Good Company (2014), Illusion and Doubt (2016), and Sugar & Joy (Six Shooter Records, 2019), three EPs – The Ocean Went Mad and We Were to Blame (2013), and Easy Listening for Jerks Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 (both Six Shooter Records, 2022), and a live album, Served Live (Six Shooter Records, 2020).
Nate Hilts and Danny Kenyon came up with the idea for a "rockin' stompin' bluegrass band" in 2012 while playing together in a short-lived alternative grunge band. After the grunge band's demise, Colton Crawford and Scott Pringle, who learned banjo and mandolin respectively, joined Hilts and Kenyon to form the Dead South 
The Ocean Went Mad and We Were to Blame (2013)
|The Ocean Went Mad and We Were to Blame|
|EP by |
The Dead South
While the band played various venues, they would sell what would eventually become their self-released EP The Ocean Went Mad and We Were to Blame.
In his review of the EP, Jamie Funk of Divide and Conquer Music was initially unsure if he could handle banjo picking in every song, but ended up enjoying it. The five songs offered in the EP reminded Funk of alternative bands attempting to play bluegrass music and succeeding beyond expectations. While most of the songs are classically "knee-slapping hoedown" bluegrass, other songs bear some similarities to alternative songs from the 90's.
Good Company, touring success, departure of Crawford (2014-2015)
|Studio album by |
The Dead South
|Genre||Bluegrass * Rock|
The Dead South's debut studio album Good Company was released in 2014 through the German record label Devil Duck Records, and led to extensive touring in Canada and Europe. The album contains a total of 14 tracks, including a rendition of Banjo Odyssey, which previously appeared on The Ocean Went Mad and We Were to Blame.
Additionally, The Dead South received in 2015 the "Road Gold" certification from Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) for over 25,000 ticket sales in a 12 month period. In presenting the award, CIMA President Stuart Johnston noted that the certification was given to recognize the talent and hard-working nature of the touring band.
In October 2016, a music video for "In Hell, I'll Be in Good Company" was released onto YouTube, retroactively fueling interest in Good Company. Though the song and respective album were released in 2015, they appeared in the Top 50 on the Billboard music charts and on the Top 20 on U.S. iTunes overall chart during December 2017. It is The Dead South's most viewed video by a considerable margin, with over 300 million views.
Rachel Freitas of MusicExistence notes that the album's second track, Achilles, "has the signature banjo sound that The Dead South are known for, but the instrumentation is a bit lighter. What one will find quickly while listening to the LP is that The Dead South are master storytellers that really know how to bring a song to life".
The band toured extensively in Canada and Europe. Crawford left the band in 2015, and Eliza Mary Doyle, a noted solo and studio musician, was hired to fill the vacancy.
"Banjo Odyssey" controversy
The lyrical content of Good Company song "Banjo Odyssey" was questioned from the time of its release, though would become more so following later allegations against Danny Kenyon. In an August 2014 Facebook post, the band said: "The song is a satirical, tongue-in-cheek reference to the bluegrass genre and tells a story about two cousins who engage in a relationship. We sincerely apologize to anyone who has been hurt or offended by these lyrics, as the last thing we would want to do is offend anyone. Obviously, we do not condone rape or violence, and "Banjo Odyssey" (like many of our songs) is written as a story, and not as something to be taken literally."
Illusion & Doubt, return of Crawford (2016-2019)
|Illusion & Doubt|
|Studio album by |
The Dead South
Illusion and Doubt was the band's second album, and was noted for its eccentric lyricism, and unusual musical influences, including its use of a cello. Particular attention was brought to the African-American origins of its sound, with Mark Johnson of Americana UK summarised the album by writing "Bluegrass? How about blackgrass?"
Amanda Hathers, on CanadianBeats, opines that, while the album provides "the traditional folk / country experience, chock full of banjo plucking, twang, and impressive harmonies, the band's ability to make the music entertaining and engaging is impressive. "Boots", the album's first track, begins soft and quiet before picking up speed before its end. "Miss Mary" in particular, serves as an atypical and surprising example of folk music as interpreted by The Dead South and "Hard Day" showcases Hilts' grit and power as vocalist."
The band received a Juno Award for Juno Award for Traditional Roots Album of the Year in 2018 for Illusion & Doubt.
After almost two years of absence from the band, Crawford returned to the lineup starting with the 'Voices in Your Head' tour in mid-2018, replacing Doyle. On tour, Danny Kenyon was occasionally replaced on cello by Erik Mehlsen, owing to Kenyon's career in engineering.
Sugar & Joy (2019-2020)
|Sugar & Joy|
|Studio album by |
The Dead South
Sugar & Joy is The Dead South's most recent album to date, which expanded upon the imagery and unconventional composition in Illusion and Doubt. The album was very well received critically, reaching #1 on the American bluegrass charts. Peter Churchill of Americana U.K. gave the album a 9 / 10, writing "There is a feeling, when first listening to the album, of anticipation, of wondering in what direction these bunch of outrageously talented musicians might head with the next track. The only consistent here is the quality and the sheer infectiousness of the music."
Chris Conaton of PopMatters gave it an 8 / 10, praising the diversity of the themes and the manner in which it incorporated different styles of music: "Sugar and Joy shows there's a lot of life in the corner of roots music where playing loud and fast while also leaving room for slower, more nuanced songs is considered a great combination. It's nice to hear an album that embraces the core tenets of 21st century Americana (or Canadiana, in the Dead South's case) while still doing their own thing. Sugar and Joy is one of the most entertaining albums I've heard in 2019."
The Dead South won Group of the Year at the 2019 Canadian Independent Music Awards, or "Indies", on 11 May 2019. The Dead South again received a Juno Award for best Traditional Roots Album of the Year in 2020 for Sugar & Joy, and performed via livestream during the virtual award ceremony.
Kenyon sexual misconduct allegations, departure and rejoining (2020-2021)
Following the allegations, Six Shooter Records, who represent The Dead South, released a statement on 19 August 2020 saying they are discussing the song "Banjo Odyssey" which had caused earlier controversy, and "our responsibility as a record label with respect to both artistic expression and social responsibility. We feel it is important to allow the time for a thoughtful and thorough process before taking action." The band also said on the same day that it "is opposed to, and does not condone, harmful behaviour of any kind" and undertook to support victims organizations, discuss the impact of "Banjo Odyssey", implement training for band and crew and create a code of conduct.
On June 18 2021, the band announced that Kenyon had rejoined.
Easy Listening for Jerks Pt. 1 and 2 (2022–present)
In October 2021, it was announced that The Dead South would be releasing a double EP Easy Listening for Jerks, Pt. 1 and Easy Listening for Jerks, Pt. 2 which has a scheduled release date of 4 March 2022. They are covers EPs which are described as "The Carter Family meets Addams Family". Part 1 has their bluegrass takes on classics such as "You Are My Sunshine", "Keep on the Sunny Side", and The Country Gentlemen's "Matterhorn". Part 2 is from their pre-show playlist which includes covers of The Doors, System of a Down, Cold War Kids, and The Misfits. This double EP release has all four members taking turns on vocals.
On 7 October 2021, they released the first single "You Are My Sunshine" along with the accompanying music video. On 11 November, they released their next single which is their cover of The Doors' People Are Strange along with the accompanying video.
Musical style and influence
The band have referred to themselves as "Mumford and Sons' evil twins", a nod to their dark and often violent interpretation of the "aesthetic of old western pioneers". Freitas of MusicExistence notes the "evil twin" comparison, but considers that, with Good Company, the band stands on its own merit in the folk world. Hilts and Kenyon had been listening to bluegrass bands Trampled by Turtles and Old Crow Medicine Show before forming their own band. They agreed that they wanted to perform their own version of traditional folk and bluegrass. Reviewer Timothy Monger on AllMusic considers that tradition to be "a gritty punk ethos with traditional bluegrass and old-time string band music"
A review of Good Company on Sputnik Music, notes that the band includes songs about the usual: Lovin', cheatin', killin', and drinkin'." Sputnik Music also points out that the band's clothing style of ordinary white shirts, black trousers, black suspenders, and the occasional flat-brimmed hat is often mimicked by their fans.
Sarah Murphy says on Exclaim.ca that the band's injection of folk and bluegrass sounds with a "punk rock ethos (not to mention a banjo player who's a self-proclaimed metalhead), the band bring a fresh perspective to classic genres."
Reviewer James Cooke suggests on MusicCrowns.org that the band's "gritty vocals, aggressive guitar strumming, mandolin chops, banjo licks, and a steady kick drum to fuse it all together" deliver a unique sound that doesn't exactly fit the traditional definition of bluegrass.
Cooke notes that the Dead South's release of "In Hell, I'll Be in Good Company" is labelled as bluegrass, but has caused fans to question whether the label is appropriate or not. He argues that since bluegrass has been influenced by Irish, Scottish, and African American music, the definition of bluegrass as a genre has become blurred.
|The Dead South discography|
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|Illusion & Doubt||
|Sugar & Joy||
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|The Ocean Went Mad and We Were to Blame||
|Easy Listening for Jerks Pt. 1||
|Easy Listening for Jerks Pt. 2||
|"This Little Light of Mine" / "House of the Rising Sun"||2020||Non-album single|
|"You Are My Sunshine"||2021||Easy Listening for Jerks Pt. 1|
|"People Are Strange"||Easy Listening for Jerks Pt. 2|
|"Will the Circle Be Unbroken"||2022||Easy Listening for Jerks Pt. 1|
|"Tiny Wooden Box"||2023||Chains & Stakes|
|2013||"Long Gone"||Good Company|
|"In Hell I'll Be In Good Company"|
|2017||"Delirium"||Illusion & Doubt|
|2019||"Diamond Ring"||Sugar & Joy|
|2020||"Fat Little Killer Boy"|
|2021||"You Are My Sunshine"||Easy Listening for Jerks Pt. 1|
|"People Are Strange"||Easy Listening for Jerks Pt. 2'|
|2023||"Tiny Wooden Box"||Chains & Stakes|
Awards and nominations
|2015||The Dead South||Canadian Independent Music Association||Road Gold||Won|||
|2018||The Dead South||Juno Awards||Breakthrough Group of the Year||Nominated|||
|Illusion and Doubt||Traditional Roots Album of the Year||Won|||
|2019||The Dead South||Canadian Independent Music Awards||Group of the Year||Won|||
|2020||Sugar & Joy||Juno Awards||Traditional Roots Album of the Year||Won|||
|2020||The Dead South||Best of Regina||Best Band||Won|||
|Best Concert: Sask Artists||Won|
|Sugar & Joy||Best Album||Won|
|2022||The Dead South||Western Canadian Music Awards||Recording of the Year||Nominated|||
|Best of Regina||Best Band||Won|
- "In Hell, I'll Be in Good Company" was used in season 2, episode 6 end credits of The Umbrella Academy.
- "In Hell, I'll Be in Good Company" was used in season 3, episode 1 of American Gods.
- "In Hell, I'll Be in Good Company" is playable as a random song via the jukebox in Fort Hope, in Turtle Rock Studios game Back 4 Blood.
- The score for "In Hell, I'll Be in Good Company" was used in season 1, episode 2, and season 1, episode 6 of The Letter for the King
- "The Recap" is used during the chase scene at the end of season 1, episode 8, of Tin Star and continues into the credits.
- "The Dead South". Sputnik Music. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- de Dekker, Jeff (17 November 2016). "Life is full of Illusion and Doubt for The Dead South". Regina Leader-Post. Regina, SK. Archived from the original on 28 March 2017. Retrieved 28 December 2017 – via Leaderpost.com.
- Funk, Jamie. "The Dead South: The Ocean Went Mad and We Were to Blame". divideandconquer.com. Divide and Conquer. Archived from the original on 28 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- "About". Thedeadsouth.com. Archived from the original on 13 September 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- "THE DEAD SOUTH EARN CIMA'S ROAD GOLD CERTIFICATION". cimamusic.ca. Canadian Independent Music Assiciation. Archived from the original on 28 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- Freitas, Rachel (May 2016). "The Dead South: Good Company". MusicExistence.com (album review). MusicExisrtence.com. Archived from the original on 12 August 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- "RIAA". riaa.com. Retrieved 13 September 2023.
- "Music Canada". musiccanada.com. Retrieved 13 September 2023.
- Soloducha, Alex (30 August 2020). "Women detail sexual misconduct allegations against former The Dead South band member". CBC News (cbc.ca/news). Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
- Davies, Mike (30 March 2018). "The Dead South: Illusion & Doubt". Folk Radio. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
- Johnson, Mark (21 February 2018). "The Dead South Illusion & Doubt (DevilDuck, 2018)". Americana U.K. (americana-uk.com). Retrieved 1 September 2020.
- Hather, Amanda (18 November 2016). "The Dead South". CanadianBeats.ca (review). Canadian Beats. Archived from the original on 28 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- "And the 2018 Juno Award winners are ..." Vancouver Courier. 24 March 2018. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
- "The Dead South hit 100 million". Creative Saskatchewan (creativesask.ca). Retrieved 1 September 2020.
- "The Dead South on Instagram: "Fall is here in Canada! So many changes! The leaves on the trees, the daylight hours, and our line-up! Colton "Crawdaddy" Crawford is ..."". Instagram. Archived from the original on 24 December 2021. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
- "The Dead South Facebook post regarding band members". Facebook.com/thedeadsouth79. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
- Churchill, Peter (16 September 2019). "The Dead South Sugar & Joy". Americana U.K. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
- Conaton, Chris (7 October 2019). "The Dead South's Sugar and Joy is one of 2019's most entertaining albums". PopMatters (review). Retrieved 1 September 2020.
- "2019 Indies nominees and winners". Indies.ca. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
- Warner, Denise (29 June 2020). "Here are all the winners from the 2020 Juno Awards". Billboard. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
- "The Dead South – statement to community". The Dead South. Archived from the original on 21 August 2020. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
- Veitch, Caitlin. "Statement: Six Shooter company training and accountability – Six Shooter Records". Retrieved 20 August 2020.
- Slingerland, Calum (19 August 2020). "The Dead South's Danny Kenyon leaves band following sexual misconduct claims". Exclaim!. Ontario, CA.
- Canales-Lavigne, Moises (23 July 2021). "The Dead South bring back member accused of sexual misconduct". Global News. Canada. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
- Dongray, Emily (15 October 2021). "The Dead South announce tour and new music – Listen". Americana UK. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
- "The Dead South to deliver Easy Listening for Jerks". antiMusic. 5 October 2021. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
- The Dead South – "You Are My Sunshine" [Official Music Video]. YouTube (music video). The Dead South. 7 October 2021. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
- People Are Strange [Official Music Video]. YouTube (music video). The Dead South. 11 November 2021. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
- Derdeyn, Stuart (8 June 2022). "Vancouver's Juno Award-winning metal act Archspire among B.C. nominees for 2022 Western Canadian Music Awards". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
- Monger, Timothy. "The Dead South". Allmusic.com (band biography). Archived from the original on 28 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- "About". The Dead South. Archived from the original on 13 September 2017. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- Murphy, Sarah. "The Dead South Illusion & Doubt (album stream)". Exclaim (Exclaim.ca). Archived from the original on 31 March 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- Cooke, James (28 March 2017). "Is the Dead South's In Hell I'll Be In Good Company bluegrass or not?". Music Crowns (Musiccrowns.org). Archived from the original on 28 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- "The Dead South chart history – bluegrass albums". Billboard. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
- "Bluegrass Music: Top Bluegrass Albums Chart". Billboard. 10 November 2019. Archived from the original on 10 November 2019.
- Lau, Meloday (6 February 2018). "Arcade Fire and Daniel Caesar lead 2018 Juno Award nominations". CBC Music. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
- "Here's the Complete List of 2018 Juno Award Winners". Exclaim!. Archived from the original on 21 April 2018. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
- "Best of Regina 2020". Prairie Dog. Retrieved 2 July 2023.
- "2022 Artistic Award Nominees". BreakOut West. Retrieved 24 April 2023.
- Dube Wilson, Stephanie (31 July 2020). "'Umbrella Academy' season 2 soundtrack: See videos of the best songs". Heavy. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
- "American Gods soundtrack – S03E01: "A Winter's Tale"". Tunefind. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
- "S1E8: "This be the Verse" – Tin Star soundtrack". Tunefind. Retrieved 27 March 2021.