Sled Island: Alberta’s beauty on display
The melodic, folksy harmonies of the Rural Alberta Advantage are born from a simple, basic idea: embracing the beauty of Alberta.
According to Nils Edenloff, the band’s guitarist, keyboardist and singer, the concept for the indie folk-rock trio came about in an email from his brother shortly after Nils moved from Edmonton to Toronto.
“Our family always has a cabin in the Battle River area, and my brother talked about going down to the farm there and exploring the ‘rural Alberta advantage,’ ” he says. “We were always inundated with that slogan growing up, and I always just associated it with the oil and gas industry, a business thing.
“Now I realize it was really about the quiet, open spaces, the beauty of the province outside the big cities and the oil patch.”
And that is exactly the insight Edenloff injects into his lyrics, a down-home, from-the-soil kind of feeling that describes the fields and plains, the mountains and lakes of Alberta, and what it was like growing up in them. What makes this all the more remarkable is Nils sings about these picturesque settings and childhood memories along with two Ontarians he met in Toronto, drummer Paul Banwatt and “jack of all trades” Amy Cole, “the glue that holds Paul and I together.”
“It was hard not to be intimidated by Toronto when I first moved here, with so many great bands I felt like, how could I even do something that will be on the radar here?” he recalls. “And then I realized, this (Alberta) is what I know, so I write songs about embracing where you come from – I realized what effect growing up there had on me and was able to put into words.”
For the band’s website click here.
For Edenloff, the three shows his Rural Alberta Advantage played at the Sled Island festival are his first gigs in his home province, and he admits he is somewhat nervous.
“It’s a little nervewracking, for sure – I never thought we’d be popular enough to do a tour like this,” he says of the upcoming summer tour through Canada and the U.S. “But everything we’ve done has been a forward progress. This time last year, none of us imagined we’d be here. We don’t have a five-year plan or anything. A lot of our popularity has happened through non-standard channels, we don’t have a playbook we’re going by.
“We’ve always had people lobbying for us, it’s been a real grassroots effort that has gotten us here, there’s a grassroots feel to the whole thing, kind of an underdog story.”