Summer? Must be time for Canary Mine

Anyone in the mood for a witty, humorous blend of three-part harmony folk and hip hop should venture downtown tonight.

Canary Mine, the popular Ontario "folk-hop" indie quartet is back in Kamloops for a show tonight at The Dirty Jersey.

One of the more popular acts over the past two summers of Music in the Park, the band is comprised of James Lanbro, Mim Adams, Joe Arnup and Carl Welch.

Lanbro has also performed here solo as country hip hop artist Jimi Maze, but Canary Mine brings a much more diverse repertoire infused with folk, blues, pop, country and rock.

"It's all over the board, really, pretty eclectic," Lanbro said while on the road somewhere on Vancouver Island. "Disco folk, we call it. We still do a lot of hip-hop and we're still influenced by it. As we've toured, we've started to see what people really like."

They've made a custom of cross-country tours over the past six summers. Despite the implication of their name (canaries were used in 19th-century coal mines to provide early warning of toxic gases) they've been surprised this summer by cancelled shows due to the sluggish economy.

When you only have a dozen dates to begin with and a family to feed back home (Welch and his wife bore identical triplets last year), that smarts.

"It's been hard," Lanbro said. Last Saturday we had a last-minute cancellation. It really sucks to be so far from home and not playing on a Saturday night."

The band formed in 2004 when Lanbro invited Welch and Adams to help out with a demo recording. They've since recorded three CDs and their music was featured in the Hollywood cult-comedy Weirdsville, directed by Allan Moyle.

Lanbro's family roots inspired him to choose the name Canary Mine.

"I have two great-grandfathers who were miners," he explained.

He sees the name as an expression of their willingness to experience life's dangers without compromise. Their danger, only slightly tongue-in-cheek, is the risk of touring in a small van, leaving behind family and friends.

On their last visit they cited Kamloops as one of the highlights of the tour, particularly when kids got up and danced at Music in the Park. There should be a few more for the floor tonight. The music starts at 8 p.m.

Canary Mine is an equal-opportunity band, Lanbro stressed.

"We try to keep it one-quarter each," when they perform. "We create equally, too."

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