The band started as a “side project,” said Canary Mine guitarist and singer James Lanbro. And it went from there. The folk-hop band also features Mim Adams on keys and vocals, Carl Welch on drums and vocals along with Joe Arnup on bass.
The musicians, all in their 20s, came together about one-and-a-half years ago. Adams got an e-mail from Lanbro asking if she wanted to join a new band. “He already had the name Canary Mine picked out,” Adams said Monday. “I like it because it has so many layers of meaning.”
Adams, the band’s only female member, admits to being “bossy” with the band members. She said that comes from the discipline and thoughtfulness of her serious jazz background. And it’s a good mix of talent that band members have brought with them, she said. “We’ll be in the middle of playing a song and I’ll say, ‘Now wait a minute, maybe we could try this.’ So we’ll stop and talk about it. And in the end, it is a real blend of styles. It helps that I’ve known these guys for years.”
Adams said she is amazed at the “weird mixture” that comes out of the group. “It’s just totally fun.” When not playing in the band, the singer- songwriter teaches music to people of all ages. But more often these days her students are eight to 15-year-olds with a range of musical talent that “amazes” her.
Any time she has left is devoted to teaching jazz choirs at York University in Toronto. She wrote three of the songs on the group’s first CD cut earlier this year. And she collaborated on some others.
Lanbro agrees that it helps to have band members who are already friends, with each one bringing to the band their own brand of music. Lanbro is a rapper and “sound guy.” Welch prefers jazz and heavy metal, having spent four years studying jazz at school. Arnup met Lanbro while he was attending Recording Arts Canada. “Joe is actually a cook,” said Lanbro. “And he moonlights as an electronic rock n’ roll DJ. We all have jobs that are somehow connected with the music world.”
One of their goals as a group is to bring back barber shop music. “Barber shop music seems to have been left behind. But it won’t be a quartet. It will be a three-part harmony because we don’t let Joe sing. He can’t sing and he knows it,” laughs Lanbro.
What’s next after touring British Columbia? The band plans to return to the Toronto area and they will probably make another CD. Canary Mine will be playing Artspace above Books and Company on Thursday, July 22 at 8 p.m. Tickets $10. Or visit firstname.lastname@example.org.