A&E » Music

West My Friend's intricate folk an old-school pleaser

Victoria band performs as part of Whistler's street entertainment program



Victoria-based folk band West My Friend plays old-school music, with elegant, original melodies, acoustic skill and good stories.

Their tour this summer has been old-school, too, with the Vancouver Islanders hitting many of the pretty small towns of B.C., down highways and byways.

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Eden Oliver says they're busy.

"It's a fun tour. We're coming to Whistler, but we're also playing some music festivals," she says.

West My Friend is comprised of Oliver with Alex Rempel on mandolin, Jeff Poynter on accordion and Nick Mintenko on bass. Three of the four met in music school at the University of Victoria and formed the band seven years ago.

"All of us do a little other work, either playing in bands or teaching," she says.

With a laugh she adds: "When we were at music school, we were all playing instruments that we don't now play in the band. When we started we would switch instruments for every song because we're multi-instrumentalists, but we decided to settle down."

West My Friend is performing a free concert at Whistler Town Plaza from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 30.

Arts Whistler and the Resort Municipality of Whistler have brought the band here as part of the resort's street-entertainment program twice this summer and Oliver likes the street-entertainment aspect of their Whistler appearance.

"Our first experience was a freakish cold, rainy day and I imagine it isn't always like that. A lot of people walk through that area, and they find the chairs and tents and lots of things happening. They can lounge about and enjoy the music."

Oliver says they were drawn to folk music because they have classical training and a keen interest in creating music that is "intricate and thoughtful."

She adds: "We want audiences to engage on an intellectual level as well as emotionally. Because of our background we felt that folk was the genre that could create music that made us happiest."

Their current album, Quiet Hum, is more representative of how the band sounds live, she says.

"On our previous two albums there is a lot of bass and strings and arrangements, complex things that we love, but normally when we're touring it's just the four of us. We wanted to challenge ourselves to make an album that stood on its own," Oliver says.

"We wanted to bring our intricate arrangements into our voice and our instruments. There are a lot more four-part harmonies."

Thematically, the album has songs about the process of writing music and the role of artists in society.

"It's a journey on that topic. The first song, 'No Good Monster' is about the evil monster in your head that tells you what you are going to create will be no good," Oliver laughs.

The band's next big outing will be to Los Angeles in August, as part of the Western Arts Alliance presentation to show off B.C. talent.


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