The Dead South

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The Dead South
The Dead South, Glastonbury Festival, 2019
The Dead South, Glastonbury Festival, 2019
Background information
OriginRegina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Years active
  • 2012–present
WebsiteOfficial site
MembersNathaniel Hilts
Scott Pringle
Danny Kenyon
Colton "Crawdaddy" Crawford
Past membersEliza Mary Doyle

The Dead South is a Canadian 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 for several years. Crawford re-joined the band starting with the Voices In Your Head tour in mid-2018.[1] On occasion Kenyon is unable to tour and is replaced on cello and vocals by Erik "Del Suelo" Mehlsen.

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. Good Company's single "In Hell, I'll Be in Good Company", produced by Orion Paradis at SoulSound studio, was created along with a video on YouTube, and is credited as contributing to the breakthrough release for the band.

The band's third LP, Illusion and Doubt, was released in 2016. It quickly climbed to number 5 in the Billboard bluegrass charts.[1] The Dead South released their most recent single, Diamond Ring, off of their upcoming record Sugar & Joy in 2019.


Nate Hilts and Danny Kenyon came up with the idea for a "rockin' stompin' bluegrass band"[2] in 2012 while playing together in a short-lived alternative grunge band. After the grunge band's demise, Colton Crawford and Scott Pringle joined what would become the Regina-based band The Dead South.[3] Crawford learned banjo and Pringle learned how to play the mandolin to supplement his guitar. They ended up with their own version of the bluegrass genre. They strive for a satirical view of the genre while remaining true to it.[2]

The band toured extensively and repeatedly 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. After almost 2 years of absence from the band, Colton "Crawdaddy" Crawford returned to the lineup, replacing Doyle as banjoist.[4] Danny Kenyon remains a member of The Dead South and maintains a career in engineering; therefore, Erik Mehlsen was brought in to aid the cello spot for touring.[5]

The Ocean Went Mad and We Were to Blame (2013)[edit]

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.[6]

Good Company (2014)[edit]

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.[1]

The release in 2017 of the YouTube music video for "In Hell I'll Be In Good Company" retroactively fueled interest in the band's earlier debut album Good Company as well, which, though released in 2015 recently appeared in the Top 50 on the Billboard music charts and on the Top 20 on US iTunes overall chart.[1]

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".[7]

Illusion and Doubt (2016)[edit]

Amanda Hathers, of 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.[8]

Sugar & Joy (2019)[edit]

This album is their first written and recorded outside Regina.

Musical style and influence[edit]

The band refers to themselves as "Mumford and Sons' Evil Twins", a nod to their dark and often violent interpretation of the "aesthetic of old western pioneers".[7] 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. AllMusic reviewer Timothy Monger considers that tradition to be "a gritty punk ethos with traditional bluegrass and old-time string band music"[9]

In their review of Good Company, 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. RJ Frometa, of Vents Magazine, notes the odd clothing style – referred to by the band itself as "their distinctive hillbilly cum pioneer look"[10] – as well, considering them "fun, modern-day hillbillies who marry an incredible stage presence with their distinct country twang that includes banjos, mandolins, a cello, guitars, whistles, finger snapping and occasionally some head banging." Frometa opines that The Dead South strive to create a sarcastic sound all their own.[11]

Sarah Murphy of says 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."[12] reviewer James Cooke suggests that the band's "gritty vocals, aggressive guitar strumming, mandolin chops, banjo licks and a steady kick drum to fuse it all together," to deliver a unique sound that doesn't exactly fit the traditional definition of bluegrass.[13]

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.[13]

Band members[edit]



Title Details US Bluegrass peak chart position
Good Company
Illusion and Doubt
  • Released: November 18, 2016
  • Formats: CD, vinyl, digital download, streaming
  • Label: Curve Music
Sugar & Joy
  • Released: October 11, 2019
  • Formats: CD, vinyl, digital download, streaming
  • Label: Six Shooter Records

Extended plays[edit]

Title Details
The Ocean Went Mad and We Were to Blame
  • Released: June 29, 2013
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
  • Label: Self-released

Awards and nominations[edit]

Apart from Illusion and Doubt peaking at number five on the US Billboard Bluegrass chart, it also entered the top 30 on the US Country iTunes Chart.[1]

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.[15] 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.

The band received a Juno Award for best Traditional Roots Album in 2018 for "Illusion and Doubt".[16]

The Dead South won Group of the Year at the 2019 Canadian Independent Music Awards, or "Indies", on May 11, 2019.[17]

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. [18]

Appearances in popular culture[edit]

The Dead South's song "In Hell I'll Be In Good Company" was used in season 2 episode 6 of The Umbrella Academy.[19]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "About". Archived from the original on 13 September 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b "The Dead South". Sputnik Music. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  3. ^ DeDekker, Jeff. "Life is full of Illusion and Doubt for The Dead South". Leader Post. Archived from the original on 28 March 2017. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  4. ^ "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. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  5. ^ "The Dead South Facebook post regarding band members". Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  6. ^ Funk, Jamie. "THE DEAD SOUTH – THE OCEAN WENT MAD WE WERE TO BLAME". Divide and Conquer. Archived from the original on 28 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  7. ^ a b Freitas, Rachel. "Album Review. The Dead South: Good Company". Archived from the original on 12 August 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  8. ^ Hather, Amanda. "Review – The Dead South". Canadian Beats. Archived from the original on 28 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  9. ^ Monger, Timothy. "The Dead South". Archived from the original on 28 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  10. ^ "About". The Dead South. The Dead South. Archived from the original on 13 September 2017. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  11. ^ Frometa, AJ. "Canadian Bluegrass Band The Dead South Release New Album Illusion And Doubt". Vents Magazine. Archived from the original on 28 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  12. ^ Murphy, Sarah. "The Dead South 'Illusion & Doubt' (album stream)". Exclaim. Archived from the original on 31 March 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  13. ^ a b Cooke, James. "Is The Dead South's 'In Hell I'll Be In Good Company' bluegrass or not?". Music Crowns. Archived from the original on 28 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  14. ^ "Bluegrass Music: Top Bluegrass Albums Chart | Billboard". November 10, 2019.
  15. ^ "THE DEAD SOUTH EARN CIMA'S ROAD GOLD CERTIFICATION". Canadian Independent Music Assiciation. Archived from the original on 28 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  16. ^ Staff (24 March 2018). "And the 2018 Juno Award winners are..." Vancouver Courier. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  17. ^ "Jim Beam INDIES with INDIE88 | The 19th Annual Independent Music Awards with INDIE88". Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  18. ^ "2020 Juno Awards: Winners List (Complete)". Billboard. June 29, 2020.
  19. ^ Stephanie Dwilson. "'Umbrella Academy' Season 2 Soundtrack: See Videos of the Best Songs". heavy. heavy. Retrieved 1 August 2020.

External links[edit]