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The Continuing Evolution of Canadian Music

Welcome to another edition of The Continuing Evolution of Canadian Music. This week, we take a look at two Ontario bands bringing Canadian folk music to the forefront: The Strumbellas and the Great Lake Swimmers.


First on the bill, The Strumbellas! This Juno award winning group hails from Peterborough, Ontario, and recently returned from a tour of Eastern Europe. The six piece band is made up of Simon Ward, David Ritter, Jon Hembrey, Izzy Ritchie, Darryl James, and Jeremy Drury. Their folk roots won them an instant following with their 2012 debut LP My Father and the Hunter. Their sound has evolved over time to incorporate some harder qualities, even some electronic influences. Keyboard player David Ritter and violinist Izzy Ritchie both bought synthesizers for the band’s upcoming album Hope, and you can hear the effect it’s had on their sound in their newest single Spirits. The song released earlier this year and in Izzy’s own words “…is a pretty good indication of what the overall sound of Hope is going to be like”. A little bigger, a little bolder but not without losing their folk roots. Hope is set to release in on February 5 of next year, but you can check out Spirits right now by following the link below. Be warned, it’s a catchy track, and you’ll have it stuck in your head for a while, guaranteed! 

strumbellas album

great lake swimmers

On to our second band of the week the Great Lake Swimmers. These amazing folk musicians are based out of Toronto and have toured throughout Canada and the United States. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Tony Dekker leads the group with violinist Miranda Mulholland, guitarist and banjo player Erik Arnesen, Bret Higgins on the upright bass, and Joshua Van Tassel on Drums. Their newest album A Forest of Arms released earlier this year to critical acclaim. A strong connection to nature and this wonderful planet of ours permeates all of the music Dekker writes, and it gives them a very “Canadian” sound. What exactly do I mean by that? You’ll have to listen and find out. Follow the link below to listen to Something Like a Storm the first track off A Forest of Arms. Passionate singing leads a lilting melody that gradually builds over, well…something like a storm coming in.

great lake swimmers album

I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Tony Dekker from Great Lake Swimmers and David Ritter and Izzy Ritchie from the Strumbellas. You can check out the video at

That’s all for this week. Thanks for checking out your destination for new Canadian music. As always you can give us some feedback on what you’d like to hear and if you’ve got a cool Canadian artist we don’t know about, let us know!

Until next time, Keep it Canadian!

-Trystan Yates-Owen