Devilish folk band diversifies rodeo

By Myke Atkinson

Take one cup folk and a teaspoon of Canadian edge, mix well and spread over a silver platter. You now have the Plaid Tongued Devils’ latest record.

Pushing the envelope for over 12 years, the Devils are proof that practice makes perfect. Their niche is a little pocket off the deep end of folk music that lead singer Ty Semaka likes to call "loud folk." What else do you call a group who trades in the traditional sounds of folk music to give their violinist a distortion pedal?

"Playing loud music is fun," says Semaka. "It allows us to explore the emotional gamut with our music."

Influenced by acts such as Boiled In Lead and Hoven Droven, the Devils are one of Western Canada’s only groups to incorporate the feel of bluegrass roots music with a more sing-along-pop-song style. Hailed everything from "the coolest klezmer band in the world," to "the thinking man’s party band," the Plaid Tongued Devils are anything but just another folk act.

"You might not believe me when I say this," says Semaka, "but my favourite band is the Foo Fighters."

Recently the band received a nomination for Best New Roots Act at the 2000 Prairie Music Awards. Though they didn’t take home the award, CBC Radio’s Definitely Not The Opera gave the Devils an award in its first year running-Loudest Folk Band. And just to cram a little more onto an already overflowing plate, the Devils are the only group in Calgary to produce their own theatrical productions, such as the critically acclaimed Klezkavania.

Belladonna is the fourth release from the Devils and is their strongest effort to date. Following the recent trend towards home recording, the Devils opted out of the big studio for a more intimate setting with producer Wynn Gogol and his Macintosh g4. The final product is 15 tracks of feel-good roots music that makes your whole body bob along with the eclectic grooves. The three years taken to create this disc can definitely be heard in the cleanliness of the production and the construction of the songs. This is one batch of musicians who understand how to write solid material.

The Devils upcoming CD release party promises to be one of the best folk-rock shows around. As a part of One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo, two extra musicians will join just for the special occasion.

"We’ll have Living Statues and the Ukrainian Trizub dancers," says Semaka. "Oh, and did I mention the Belly Dancers?"

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