In the midst of Earthbound Trio’s set, a sudden explosion of noise cuts Bob Fitzgerald’s upright bass short. It’s the sort of noise reserved for Michael Bay films; not what you want to hear during a show, and especially not during the Galaxie Rising Star competition at Fredericton’s Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival. I had come to interview the opening act and presumptive winners, Tomato/tomato, who had garnered themselves a full 50% of the online vote, though admittedly I was rooting for both teams, and that noise caused the bottom of my stomach to drop. Mike ‘Mumble’ Humble, percussionist extraordinaire, tells me things were even worse from his perspective, “My ear drum dropped out. That was the loudest thing I have ever heard. Like wow, man. That monitor was set up nice and loud for the loop to come in later, and then, all of a sudden, it’s killing me with nowhere to hide. But you just keep playing, and you play through it, right? It’s not the first time that pedals have made whacky noises.”
Perhaps it was their quick recovery, a flurry of reconnecting an assortment of pedals and amps, that impressed the judges to the point of pushing their 40% share of the vote into a win, but more than likely it was the simple fact that Earthbound Trio possesses that rare and elusive gift for making white folk dance; not toe-tapping, head-bobbing or swaying, but full on dancing. It’s a combination of folk and funk (think Dispatch and Keller Williams go to live on a farm), and a couple years of hard work together. The lineup for Earthbound trio formed almost three years ago when guitarist/singer Dwayne Doucette, and bassist Bob Fitzgerald, welcomed drummer Mumble into the group, “My name is Mike Humble; I have cousins Jumble and Dumble. It’s a little known fact, and thank you for not putting an ‘s’ on it. So many people put an ‘s’ on it, and that’s not me, man. But also Mumble is the little penguin from Happy Feet; his name is Mumble, singular. Mumbles is the Dick Tracy bad guy, but Mumble is a happy penguin that dances. I’m way closer to that one.”
“We’re all pretty giddy right now, if you can’t tell. I can’t even form sentences.”
This year was their first performing at Harvest together as Earthbound Trio. Mumble tells me their win as one of the four finalists to Galaxie’s Rising Star competition is a big step for them, “Galaxie Rising Star, because they do them at festivals all over Canada, that’s a recognised thing. So if you say to someone in BC that you won Galaxie Rising Star, they’ll be like, ‘Oh, we know what that is’. It’s recognisable. The people that have won it: Matt Anderson, Keith Howlett, Ross Neilsen, Andy Brown, these guys are all playing music for a living and they all won this and this is… That’s the big reason I want to do this.” Bob also tells me it’s going to mean a likely return to Harvest next year, “One of the judges said to us right after went on that as he was watching us he texted one of the organisers of Harvest and said ‘Why haven’t you booked these guys yet?’ And that’s a fuckin huge compliment.”
Dwayne tells me the band’s future plans for the immediate future include touring through Ontario and Quebec, but in sticking with a strong theme of sound environmental practices touring might involve converting their tour van to run on bio-diesel, “We’re going to convert it over to working on veggie oil, which we might possibly be able to afford it a little more now that we’ve got this cheque from Galaxie, which is amazing. It’s all going to go towards a more sustainable band.”
“That’ll be a huge step when we can filter the veggie oil from the fryers that we hopefully won’t have to work over anymore.”
With their award in hand, huge smiles now stuck across their faces for the past hour or so, and a growing following, Dwayne is very optimistic for their future, “You know, it’s not just friends of ours now, because we’re playing for people we’ve never met before and they’re going completely bonkers watching you play, and it’s absolutely amazing. That’s how you know you’re doing something right. Last night, I was looking out in the audience, and there was a good ten people singing along with me the whole entire time. I’ve never seen these people before in my life and they know all the words.” There’s no wondering why either; this week we learned that Earthbound Trio is now up for three Music/Musique NB awards: Fan’s Choice, Emerging Artist of the Year, and Rock/Loud Recording of the Year.
You can find more about Earthbound Trio at their webpage.
“We absolutely did win! Whooooooooooooooooo.”
“I will transcribe that directly.”
“Seventeen ‘o’s, please”