Vernon Celtic folk group, Cod Gone Wild has brought the Maritimes out west and the whiskey into wine country.
The four-piece acoustic-based band recorded its debut album at Vernon Recording Studios, but channeled the dewy mists and perspiring walls of a rowdy St. John’s kitchen party courtesy of transplanted east coaster Andrew Mercer.
Singer/strummer Mercer and his bandmates, keyboardist/vocalist Betty Anne Northup, fiddler, Pete Kerr and drummer/singer Chad “Rhino” Carter, have found solidarity in the Maritime-Celtic style, itself one of the original sounds of early Canada.
Cod Gone Wild is tradition-based and gives ballads and pumped-up folk songs a tight working over.
The band’s style is based around the story-songs and flowing vocal harmonies of Mercer, Northup, and Carter (Dirty Old Town) –– it can be heard as a sound frozen in time and moved forward, but the sentiments are straight up.
The fleet-fingered fiddling of Pete Kerr and the tightly synched drumming of Carter keeps the energy unflagging and whips the music along. This is “up” music; a pronounced lilt moves through these songs of whiskey, journeys and beloved landscapes.
The album is a long player (16 songs) that plays quickly, focusing on good-time reels, ballads and laments. Annalee by Northup is a mournful example of the latter, full of longing and loss.
The contrast of Mercer’s and Northup’s voices brings old world dynamics to the band’s sound. There’s levity and longing – a bit of a major/minor sound chase.
Mercer’s jaunty delivery shines clearly on tracks like Nancy Whiskey, a stellar traditional song whose seeming familiarity has a perennial hook that’s timeless –– the ultimate old-time party song.
As in Sociable, a tribute to the atmosphere of live music and bars in Newfoundland, there’s a spirit of rollicking conviviality in Cod Gone Wild’s music. Maritime mastery!
Catch Cod Gone Wild live when they play at the Irish Pub Night Feb. 11 during Vernon Winter Carnival. The event happens at the Army Navy Air Force Spitfire unit #5. Tickets/info are at the Winter Carnival office.