Kelowna Bluegrass 4-Piece Embodies the Spirit of Bill Monroe

The Sunday Morning String Band at Marmalade Cat on Friday, Nov. 10th.

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November 12th, 2017
Dan Tait

I stopped in at Marmalade Cat Friday night to catch a relatively new act in Kelowna, Sunday Morning String Band.

Although they’re a new act in town, they’re no strangers to live performance in Kelowna, and across BC. All four members have been in the local scene for a long while in several other projects.

Rob McLaren, Dan Loewen, Max DeJong and Uncle Jeff make up the four-piece, playing banjo, guitar, mandolin and upright bass respectively. They all sing and add a pinch of harmony to most of the tunes – a selection from a wide array of folk and bluegrass favourites, as well as a few originals written by McLaren, Loewen and DeJong.

Sunday Morning String Band has an at-home blue-collar style, seeming to walk into the venue right after work. All clad in work-boots, the 4-piece brings me back to the days I spent going to see bands in Quebec, or seeing some of the fruit-picker-bands at Gatzke Market. They’re a pile of fun, and they exude the excitement and nostalgia of a group of good ol’ boys out to have a great time pickin’ old time favourites. The late father of bluegrass Bill Monroe would be proud.

Highlights from the performance included all of the band’s original pieces, as well as an a-capella version of the Hockey Night In Canada theme, followed up immediately after by Stompin’ Tom Connors’ The Hockey Song. They also do great arrangements of more modern tunes, like MGMT’s Kids, as well as Float On by Modest Mouse.

The best boots for stompin’ are work boots… Sunday Morning String Band, Nov. 10th, 2017.

In the summers you can often find them performing their upbeat bluegrass-folk music on Bernard Street, or performing at weddings and in outdoor festival settings. Though they’ve only been performing together for about a year, they have found stages to play all over the Okanagan.

The two-hour performance felt quick, as I was hoping to stay a little longer and hear a little more, but I guess that’s the trick – always leave your listeners wanting more. These boys do so, and they do it well.

The Marmalade Cat has been hosting live music for many years, and they provide a great all-ages atmosphere for live music on Friday evenings from 5 to 7pm. There is no cover, but there is a donation box at each table that goes directly to the band. The events are booked by the Kelowna Arts Council, who put on shows to pull great out-of-town artists into the Okanagan as well as to showcase the vast array of local talent we have here.

The best boots for stompin’ are work boots… Sunday Morning String Band, Nov. 10th, 2017.

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