Roots Column- Cam Penner & Saskia and Darrel reviews   Leave a comment

In today’s Roots Music column in the Red Deer Advocate I advance the local roots music events including upcoming appearances by Saskia & Darrel with Gary Fjellgaard Saturday night in Red Deer and The Spinney Brothers October 23. I also (finally) review Cam Penner’s latest as well as the new one from Saskatchewan’s Saskia & Darrel. The column is available online only to subscribers so you’ll have to buy a paper to read my opinions.

Thanks for supporting local roots music. Donald

Cam Penner Gypsy Summer

During the past decade, Cam Penner has
consistently written and released albums of depth and precision.

The characters Penner inhabits give voice to those who drive gravel roads crisscrossing the dark edges of one stoplight towns.

In Penner’s stark settings, obligation interferes with romance, late night driving serves as therapy, and the only thing keeping demons at bay is the threat of blue lights in the rearview mirror.

On his bright sounding fifth album’s lead track, “Driftwood,” Penner sings “And
all we got to do, is keep diggin’ the dark until the sun shines through,” while concluding, “It’s goin’ to get worse, but it’s gonna  get better.” This dichotomy of hopefulness strengthened by desperation, of frustration met by gentleness, may provide the album’s core theme.

Each of his song captures a bit of something impressive, a mixture of colourful words, apposite music, and instrumentation attuned to the nuances of the emotions and possibilities Penner explores.

For almost 45-minutes, Gypsy Summer allows listeners to be swept into a challenging and
elaborately decorated community of roots music, one where Penner’s large, controlled voice serves as judge, jury, and accused.

Saskia and Darrel Songbirds

Darrel Delaronde and Saskia Overbeek have been quietly making prairie roots music for many years, frequently touring with Gary Fjellgaard while making their own mark from a Saskatchewan base.

Accompanied by Canadian instrumental icon Steve Dawson as well as Nolan Murray, Bill Hicks, and Thomas Kinzel, the duo have created a pleasant, literate offering of story- and experience-based songs that comfortably cross genre lines. Murray’s fiddling, in particular, is quite appealing.

“War Bride” offers a perspective of post-war Canada, “Summerside” captures longing for a Prince Edward Island home, and “Sam Kelley” explores a Canadian connection to the wild-west through the story of the Big Muddy outlaw. Not everything is folk-heavy; “Goin’
to Town” is a frivolous song for the working week and even “Dundarave”, a song of missing home, maintains a balance avoiding melancholy. “Eleventh Hour” is a welcome addition to the Remembrance Day canon.

Delaronde’s voice is most enjoyable as he shares tales while Saskia explores higher reaches; together, the pair establishes a formidable vocal dynamic.

With Fjellgaard , the duo visits Red Deer tomorrow evening.

Donald Teplyske is a local freelance writer who contributes a twice-monthly column on roots music; visit for additional reviews. If you know a
roots music event of which he should be aware, contact him at


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: