The Dead South
|The Dead South|
|Origin||Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada|
|Past members||Eliza Mary Doyle|
The Dead South is a Canadian folk-bluegrass musical ensemble based in Regina, Saskatchewan. The band was initially formed in 2012 as a quartet by Canadians Nate Hilts (vocals, guitar, mandolin), Scott Pringle (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Danny Kenyon (cello, vocals). Colton Crawford (banjo) left the band in 2015 and was replaced by studio musician Eliza Mary Doyle.
Often jokingly referring to as "Mumford and Sons' Evil Twins", 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 band's third LP, Illusion and Doubt, was released in 2016. It quickly climbed to number 5 in the Billboard bluegrass charts. An updated version of Good Company's single "In Hell, I'll Be in Good Company", produced by Jason Plumb, was created along with a video on YouTube, and is credited as contributing to the breakthrough release for the band.
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 joined what would became the Regina-based band The Dead South. 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.
The band toured extensively and repeatedly in Canada and Europe. Crawford left the band in 2015, and Doyle, a noted solo and studio musician, was hired to fill the vacancy.
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.
The Ocean Went Mad and We Were to Blame (2013)
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 (2014)
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 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.
Rachel Freitas of MusicExistence notes that the album's first 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".
Illusion and Doubt (2016)
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. “These 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.
Musical style and influence
The band has jokingly been referred to 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. AllMusic reviewer Timothy Monger considers that tradition to be "a gritty punk ethos with traditional bluegrass and old-time string band music"
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" – 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.
Sarah Murphy of Exclaim.ca 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."
MusicCrowns.org 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.
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.
- Nate Hilts (lead vocals, guitar, mandolin) (2012–present)
- Scott Pringle (guitar, mandolin, vocals) (2012–present)
- Danny Kenyon (cello, vocals) (2012–present)
- Colton Crawford (banjo) (2012–2015,2018-present)
- Eliza Mary Doyle (banjo) (2016–2018)
- Erik Mehlsen (cello) (2015–present)
|Title||Formats||Details||Peak chart positions|
|The Ocean Went Mad and We Were to Blame||Extended play||
|Good Company||Compact Disc,
|Illusion and Doubt||Compact Disc,
Awards and nominations
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.
- "About". The Dead South.com. Deadsouth.com. Archived from the original on 13 September 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- "The Dead South". SputnikMusic.com. Sputnik Music. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- DeDekker, Jeff. "Life is full of Illusion and Doubt for The Dead South". Leaderpost.com. Leader Post. Archived from the original on 28 March 2017. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- "The Dead South Facebook post regarding band members". www.facebook.com/thedeadsouth79. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
- Funk, Jamie. "THE DEAD SOUTH – THE OCEAN WENT MAD WE WERE TO BLAME". divideandconquer.com. Divide and Conquer. Archived from the original on 28 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- Freitas, Rachel. "Album Review. The Dead South: Good Company". MusicExistence.com. MusicExisrtence.com. Archived from the original on 12 August 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- Hather, Amanda. "Review – The Dead South". CanadianBeats.ca. Canadian Beats. Archived from the original on 28 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- Monger, Timothy. "The Dead South". Allmusic.com. Allmusic.com. Archived from the original on 28 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- "About". The Dead South. The Dead South. Archived from the original on 13 September 2017. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- Frometa, AJ. "Canadian Bluegrass Band The Dead South Release New Album Illusion And Doubt". VentsMagazine.com. Vents Magazine. Archived from the original on 28 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- Murphy, Sarah. "The Dead South 'Illusion & Doubt' (album stream)". Exclaim.ca. Exclaim. Archived from the original on 31 March 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- Cooke, James. "Is The Dead South's 'In Hell I'll Be In Good Company' bluegrass or not?". Musiccrowns.org. Music Crowns. Archived from the original on 28 December 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.
- Staff (24 March 2018). "And the 2018 Juno Award winners are..." Vancouver Courier. Retrieved 31 March 2018.