An exploration of traditional folk with Daniel Romano, Frederick Squire and Julie Doiron
Traditional folk trio Daniel, Fred & Julie stopped by the Horseshoe on Thursday night for a soft and stripped down show with Baby Eagle (solo project of Constantines' vocalist and guitarist Steve Lambke) and local roots singer Jerry Leger.
With a longstanding history of collaborations between Doiron and Squire (including Shotgun and Jaybird, Calm Down It's Monday and their work with Mount Eerie) as well as Romano and Lambke's burgeoning record label You've Changed Records, it came as no surprise that the songwriters adopted a revue-style approach for their brief Canadian tour.
I arrived just in time to catch Baby Eagle hit the stage, performing as a three-piece with one half of Attack in Black (Daniel Romano and Spencer Burton) helping him out on the drums and second guitar. The Shoe was still fairly quiet at this point in the evening, with the majority of the crowd remaining seated until it came time for the hotly-anticipated live set from Daniel, Fred & Julie.
Considering the short length of their self-titled debut (nine songs, 36 min.), I was curious to see how the trio would fill out their headlining set. The revue-style attitude took a simple format: a few group folk standards interspersed with short two-song solo sets from each songwriter.
It was during these mini sets that the crowd interaction picked up. They opened with the first three tracks of their self-titled debut ("The Gambler & His Bride" / "Runner" / "I Dream of Jeanie"), jumping from song to song without any banter. Their three-part harmonies and tricky finger-picking were perfectly executed, yet they had no real stage presence to match the incredible musicianship.
It was only when Dan and Fred left the stage that Julie Doiron picked up a guitar and came into her own. She played a pair of lonely and haunting new tracks that starkly contrasted her cheery disposition and upbeat banter with the crowd.
After group renditions of "No One Knew My Name" and "Down By The Weeping Willow," Squire was the next to step up, begrudgingly shifting across the stage to play a few of his solo songs, including "You Sing High, We Will Sing Low" from his latest self-released EP, which he affectionately titled The Horseshit EP.
Perhaps it was because he wore cheap plastic 3D glasses the entire set, but Fred had the crowd giggling from the moment he stepped up to the mic and introduced himself with a "Yeah, Yeah... Uh Huh." I grabbed his EP after the show -- a true DIY effort from the two-fold napkin insert to the hand-signed CD-R.
When it came time for Romano to step into the spotlight, he called upon Misha Bower (Bruce Peninsula) and for some help to (presumably) preview the forthcoming solo album that Dine Alone has been hinting at. Dan started off with the song that was recently featured in the Woods & Wires in-studio teaser video posted online last month. Spencer Burton hopped back on stage to lend his voice to Romano's second solo track.
While these mini sets could easily have given their set a disjointed feel, the three songwriters seemed increasingly relaxed as the evening wore on. As an appreciation for the parts built up throughout the night, the trio became more and more comfortable as a whole.
Check out a video I recorded of their set closer "Your Love," one of two original Romano songs from their proudly mono debut recording:
Words, photos and video by Matthew McAndrew.
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