Folk Fest: Bell Orchestre feeds off instrumental chaos
Offering up a more classical twist for tonight’s lineup at the Folk Festival, is Montreal’s Bell Orchestre. The 6-piece instrumental band’s debut album was nominated for Juno in the Best Instrumental Album category and their latest release, As Seen Through Windows was recently released through the Arts & Crafts label in March this year.
Though there may not be any lyrics to tell the story, a narrative is woven through the melody that is created by their eclectic collection of instruments. These include the upright bass, keyboard, drums, percussions, a French Horn, trumpet, melodica, violin, clarinet, bass saxophone and a lap steel guitar. Truly a wide variety in a very non-traditional pop band.
Bell Orchestre is set to play on the side stages for the rest of the weekend, collaborating in workshops with John Langford & Sally Timms, Dick Gaughan and Bellowhead on Saturday.
With six members and Colin Stetson joining them on tour playing with other band including the 11-member Bellowhead, the workshop will be an interesting one.
“The more people, the more chaotic,” says Richard Reed Parry, upright bass player, keyboardist and percussionist with the band when asked what the workshops are like. “With a band like ours we write all our own music and it doesn’t have normal forms or chords or instruments even so it’s usually a more free for all when we do things like that.”
Folk Fest Spotlight
Shows: Friday evening mainstage, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Saturday: 11:30 a.m. Stage 2 (with Bellowhead, Dick Gaughan, Jon Langford & Sally Timms)
Sunday: 10:30 a.m. Stage 5 (with Emily Wells, Esthero, Mirah) and 1:50 p.m. Stage 2 (with Mirah, Tarhana, Justin & John from Bellowhead)
For the band’s website click here
Collaborating with others is nothing new for Bell Orchestre, as five out of six of the regular members also play in other bands. Along with Parry, Sarah Neufeld plays in Arcade Fire. Stefan Schneider and Pietro Amato are members of The Luyas, with Amato doing triple duty with Torngat as well. Mike Feuerstack is with Snailhouse and Kaveh Nabatian is the sole member with only one band to his credit so far.
So how do they juggle their musical variations?
“We just sort of follow our noses, there really isn’t a method. It’s always just a bit chaotic; there’s a lot of fitting things into gaps,” Parry explains.
In September Bell Orchestre is off to tour Europe. Around the same time they will be releasing a remixed As Seen Through The Windows album.
“A whole bunch of people have done remixes and interpretations of our songs from this record … It’s quite cool, it’s quite beautiful,” he adds.