The Polyjesters bring music around the world

The Polyjesters have gotten around a lot. Around the world, that is. Though the two longest standing members of this ever-expanding band, Jason and Sheldon Valleau, started playing music in Didsbury, it’s taken them to France for four years, busking their way around the world, from the streets of Amsterdam and Nice.

Both Valleaus say they owe the band’s unique sound of upright bass and baritone ukulele to their family history.

“Grandfather was very musical, and he played guitar,” Jason says. “Of course, like most Saskatchewan adolescents, he lost a digit in a farming accident. He was no longer able to bar chord on the guitar, so he switched to the ukulele, completely unaware that he spawned three or four generations of ukulele players.”

The instrument isn’t well regarded just for its sound, either. Jason claims it helped him out in more than one sticky situation.

“The nice thing abut the ukulele is that it’s so non-competitive, so unassuming,” he explains. “It’s been a passport for me in several countries. I was walking along the streets of Rio de Janeiro, walking with it in my hand, with a friend of mine, Dimitri a Russian saxophonist who was playing flute. We wandered into a bad bario, you know, a bad neighbourhood in Rio and I remember us looking up and thinking, ‘Holy mackerel! We wandered into a ghetto here. There’s some dangers here.’ Everybody came out of their hobbles and away from their posts and looked at us and just started to laugh! How ridiculous, a ukulele player and a flute player stumbling into a bad part of town. There’s something so unassuming about the instrument. It can get you anywhere.”

Not only focused on unassuming instruments, the band are all about everything under the sun, musically. They are the true definition of indie: self-produced, self-promoted and self-managed most of the time. This independent nature gives the group a lot of creative room to work in.

“We like to keep it very wide open in terms of our work,” Jason says. “We like to keep it ourselves and we have a very broad spectrum of jobs and places we get to travel to and it’s very ‘choose your own adventure’ when you take everything on by yourself.”

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