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Music for your next road trip

By Michaella Francom on August 5, 2015

Union Duke’s album Cash and Carry is the perfect soundtrack for a summer road trip.  Greeted by a banjo twang in the first track’s opening bars you can’t help but be overcome by that hopeful feeling you get turning the key in the ignition on a sunny summer’s day and pulling on to the road headed who-knows-where.

Consisting mostly of high-energy bluegrass inspired tunes but balanced nicely with some more sombre, bittersweet songs like “Leaving My Girl”, the album is definitely best listened to while rolling down the highway.

Probably a good thing for the band who have been performing the songs on their East Coast tour since Cash and Carry launched last year.  Being on the road, living in close quarters could easily be a drain on any group – but the performances certainly aren’t suffering.  The energy reverberating from the record is only amplified by the charismatic stage presence of the band when they get up there and turn up the volume.

It’s clear these guys love what they’re doing.

Initially starting out as a trio playing rock music in high-school, Matt, Ethan and Jim were later joined by Will and Rob who now all work together to create that signature Union Duke sound.

That signature sound-evocative of a rowdy East Coast kitchen party – may seem a bit at odds for a band that has its roots in rock-n-roll and which calls Toronto home. But as Matt explained it to me “I think there’s something very natural about playing acoustic instruments. And we sort of like grabbing a beer and getting in the kitchen and standing around and playing on instruments that you don’t need a whole bunch of power for so I think that’s kind of how we started gravitating towards [our sound]. And then it’s just also kind of the music we were listening to at the time.  You discover something else you like and then you start writing in that fashion.”

Writing for these guys usually means starting off with one person’s completed song, music and lyrics, to which everybody else adds their own little flavour over time.  The collaborative approach to song writing has resulted in an album rich in balanced instrumentation, heartfelt lyrics and beautiful harmonies.

Union Duke rolled through Wakefield on July 31st but the tour continues well into fall.  You can check them out in Aylmer August 14-16th as part of The Annual Fred Eaglesmith Charity Picnic weekend.  For more tour dates and to get your hands on Cash and Carry, visit their website.

Plus listen to our interview with Matt on Apartment613 Live’s podcast: