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Forum Home > Your news items > Boxcar Boys' third album

John Grimley
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The Boxcar Boys released their album, "Cicada Ball" in September 2015. This young, fast-moving band has amassed three albums since forming in 2011.

Who are The Boxcar Boys? Not an easy question to answer; they are difficult to categorize simply.
To start with they are not "boys". Well, not all of them. Two members of the basic sextet are girls. And the band has several manifestations of personnel, making it hard to pin down just who they are, never mind what they are. Three females on stage is by no means unusual.

What are they? A band that plays miked acoustic instruments (plus vocals) in a number of styles. Those styles range widely and include traditional jazz, folk and blues. Even the occasional klesmer. But one word applies to whatever they play, whether it be  an original piece or an established number. That word is "roots". The band you see and hear could have been playing a hundred years ago and would have fitted right in then, no matter what they chose to play. Because how they play is at least as important as what they play. Think stomping in a mud puddle in wellington boots.

Who are the personnel? Again, not straightforward. At the core of the band is John David Williams. Simple, yet enigmatic. Flighty yet focused. Funny yet alarming - and disarming. John plays clarinet, some harmonica and sings much of the vocal work, in the tenor register.

Surrounding him are a cluster of talents who know how to play ensemble, solo and anything within that spectrum.

Left to right, across the stage, are Laura C. Bates/violin, Karl Silveira/trombone, Justin Ruppel/percussion, Rob Teehan/brass bass and Kelsey McNulty/accordian (with John normally somewhere near centre stage). But this line-up is fixed neither in terms of instrumentation nor in personnel, with others who may deputize and/or augment the band as gigs and indeed as specific tunes dictate. Perhaps the one delightful thing they do have in common is they are all millenials, full of joie de vivre, adventure and experimentation and, above all, passion. 

Are these musicians of the calibre of a Stravinski or a Berlin? Happily, no. Their enthusiasm, playfulness and unpredictability would never cut it with those two guys. But if you want a tap to your feet, a smile on your face, a dance, even an occasional sing-along, these "boys" are well worth a listen.

Their CDs are self-published and available either where they play or at

The band is currently playing alternate Saturday afternoons at what could be deemed their Toronto base, the C'est What? tavern, following an acclaimed tour of The Maritimes. Can a gig at the likes of Hugh's Room be far off?


November 23, 2015 at 12:54 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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