There’s no stopping anyone with the right attitude and some ambition and, for Canadian powerhouse blues band Durham County Poets, the drive to get “Back at the Groove Shack” after our pandemic pause is creatively evident with this, their soulful new single and album, Out of the Woods.
While we all hunkered down for the long haul of COVID, DCP lead vocalist and songwriter Kevin Harvey knew that the time was right to get working on new music that could have the power to uplift and inspire just when we all perhaps need it the most.
“The idea was for it to be a positive, uplifting experience for all involved — creators and listeners,” notes Harvey.
The result of this experience? The band’s fifth album, Out of the Woods, produced by Bill Garrett; the smooth, funky, and smile-worthy title track is the lead single that introduces the new collection in both style and substance.
From the one-word vocal intro of “alright”, the album’s title track, “Out of the Woods,” takes us down a path heading straight for the light at the end of the tunnel. Along the way, there’s continuous, rhythmic reassurance that everything is indeed going to be alright.
“The number one inspiration for the single ‘Out of the Woods’ was my mother,” says Harvey. “She has always been a rock and the kind of mom that has the ability to set you straight! Get me off my high horse and or kick my behind if I start feeling sorry for myself, and always with love.”
We ain’t home yet but we’re out of the woods
Come on now, take a look at this world and start acting like we know we should
DCP has a lot to live up to and surpass after scoring a 2020 JUNO nomination for Best Blues Album of the Year for their fourth record, Hand Me Down Blues, and watching it stay on Roots Music Report’s Top 50 chart in Canada for more than 12 months. The album also received two Maple Blues Awards nominations and a Canadian Folk Music Awards nomination for Kevin Harvey.
While Harvey is the voice out front, Durham County Poets are a “band in the truest sense of the word,” they share.
“Every member writes and arranges and brings something unique to the table,” says Harvey. “You’ll hear a variety of genres and a broad range of styles.” Those DCP members are David Whyte on guitar and backing vocals, Neil Elsmore on guitar and backing vocals, Carl Rufh on bass and backing vocals, and Rob Couture on drums.
“The guys in the band wrote songs that bolster that positive uplifting vibe, it’s peppered all over the album,” he continues. “Even when the content is somewhat sobering and can be a tad weighty, the end result is relevance and beauty, and a bit of humour never hurt nobody either.”
Positivity, forward-thinking, and passion are the key drivers for bandleader Kevin Harvey, who has been in a wheelchair since 1981 after what he calls a “stupid accident.“ He sees it as just one experience among many in his life and will not allow it to define or confine him. With the grace of God, the collective power of the band, and the slowly changing views of society towards the disabled, DCP has been able to realize some of the hopes and aspirations they all have as musicians. Harvey sums it up with his personal motto, “Music is a precious gift too important not to be shared.”
The belief in and celebration of that precious gift has been palpable when the band has fired up at key festivals such as Ottawa Blues, Rochester Jazz, Montréal Folk, Deep Roots Nova Scotia, Wintergrass Seattle, Port Credit, Ontario’s Southside Blues Shuffle, and the Pop-up “Superfolk” in Morin Heights, QC.
The positive power that a DCP show can have was observed by Bill Hurley of Extended Play Sessions when he wrote, “There’s something about the Durham County Poets that leaves you feeling that everything might be OK in the world after all. There’s a human spirit that lives in these people and their music is the medium that allows that spirit to roam free.”
In the coming months, the Durham County Poets will be sharing that spirit with enthralling performances increasing their usual five members to seven with a horn section. They’ll be hitting stages throughout Québec and Ontario and in the U.S. in New England and New York State in support of their fifth album Out of the Woods. Visit durhamcountypoets.com for dates.