The Crooked Brothers


Workshop Shade Stage – Sat 4:15 pm
Performance Barn Stage – Sat 6:00 pm   
Workshop Shade Stage – Sun 11:00 am  

Who says you can’t choose your family? The Crooked Brothers are kindred, no question.

Their blend of timeless country classic sounds, back porch blues and stomping scrap yard funk has gained the attention of many folk festival and roots music fans both live and on their carefully crafted albums. As with Deathbed Pillowtalk (2009), their sophomore release Lawrence, Where’s Your Knife? (2011) was self-produced and recorded in a small cabin over a cold Manitoban winter. From the very first track on Lawrence, the Brothers are quick to let us know this is not going to be just another folk album.

A good dance, a good cry, it’s all here. Music full of hips and heart. Slinky throbbing bass lines and growling melodies, or a heartache stripped and unadorned. The diversity in instrumentation and vocal arrangements are the vanguard of The Crooked Brothers’ art. Touched first by a three-part harmony, the driving insistence of a strutting funky beat, or maybe the lonesome caterwaul of a lap steel – the listener is drawn in and invited into the true heart of these songs. The poetry. Every word deliberate. Their timbre and lyric summon imagery of resilient souls, of long tough winters, of sadness, sorrow and longing, of sex and mortality. They get lonely and low as low can be, but they are also quick to celebrate. The Crooked Brothers’ songs move from sorrow to joy and back with an ageless grace and it is clear they harbor a love and honour for the lows in life just as much as the highs.

Jesse Matas, Darwin Baker and Matt Foster – all three are songwriters and multi-instrumentalists. Banjos, mandolins, dobro, guitar and harmonicas all take turns being juggled from brother to brother. Each having their own style and touch, the arrangements seem limitless, and there is a refreshing sense that they will never write the same song twice. They ring scraps of railway iron like bells. They whistle through their teeth. They sing and shout. Whatever they’re up to, they mean it and it shows.

The brothers are no strangers to festivals and house concerts alike, they feel at home playing in farmer’s markets, they love a good rowdy dive bar, or a soft seated theatre with a hushed listening crowd. Whether performing as a trio, or with a backing rhythm section, the Crooked Brothers’ visibly thrive on this versatility, playing any show they can dream up.