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Folk rockers The Young Novelists at Alpine Summit Lodge April 11

The Young Novelists are on the Home Routes circuit this spring, touring behind their third-but-really-fourth release, in city & country, which, bless their Ontarian hearts, is a concept album founded in travel between the built-up areas and small towns around the province and lots of research about where they ended up. Graydon James and Laura Spink have national emerging artist hardware under their belts and they bring their brand of frontline folk/rock to the Alpine Summit Seniors Lodge this Wednesday, April 11, at 7 p.m.

Fitzhugh: So what were some of the small towns you went out to?

Graydon: We picked towns where we already knew somebody or had some connection personally just in case we didn’t find anything to research that was interesting to write about. We went to towns as small as Blind River and as large as Arnprior or Goderich.

Fitz: Do you get Bobcaygeon jokes about this, or is that a terrible thing to suggest?

Graydon: As of yet we haven’t. But that’s sort of a model, Bobcaygeon, and the Stompin’ Tom song Tillsonburg. Bobcaygeon is not literally about Bobcaygeon, right, it’s sort of inspired by. Tillsonburg is much more literally of that town, so those were the models for how to write a song about a small town.

Fitz: Is there an aspect to the contrast with the city?

Graydon: There was. In some ways, the reference is twofold. Partly it’s contrasting city versus country but also contrasting the dirty rock sound that some songs have versus the more folky, harmony-oriented sound. There’s a flavour of harmony in everything, and of dirty guitar too, but those two sort of sides … we’ve been a band and we’ve been a duo. It’s addressing that, but the stories from the towns are the country songs.

Laura: It kind of ends up being almost half and half, half country songs and half city songs. When we started the band in 2009, we were a six-piece band all the time. That has slowly changed, for various reasons, and now we mainly play just the two of us, unless it makes sense. It’s really fun to play a full band show but it’s a lot of fun when it’s just the two of us. So I think for this album, it was the first time it was just the two of us and trying to marry those two identities we’ve always carried with us.

Fitz: It’s been billed as an acoustic show in Jasper. Can you describe for me what folks can expect when they arrive?

Graydon: We do our very best to translate the more quote-unquote rock-type songs into a duo. I actually started as a drummer. Our bass player has often said to me ‘you play acoustic guitar like a drummer.’

Laura: So percussive, and we’re like ‘what the hell does that even mean?’

Graydon: At least you can translate the energy of the more rocking stuff. That, I think, comes across.

Laura: When we play duo shows, I’m a lot busier than I am at a full band show. I play the melodica and the glockenspiel. So I play more melodica in a duo show, and I bow my glockenspiel with cello bows, which is, I realize, something that’s kind of unique.

A great compliment we got at a show awhile ago was something about ‘you guys really fill a room with sound.’ He said that in a good way. That made me feel great because when we started playing as a duo more, it took a little while for me to gain confidence. That it was a great show, the two of us. I felt for a while when we didn’t have that band with us, that it was lacking and I don’t anymore. I know some people are going to like the band better, and some people are going to like the two of us better and that’s just personal preference. It’s just going to be a different show.

Fitz: Anything else to add before I let you go?

Laura: I feel like there should be.

Graydon: Stay in school, kids.

Laura: We’re really, really looking forward to Jasper. Two years ago we did the Via Rail Musicians on Board program. We had a very quick stop in Jasper but we really enjoyed our time there.

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