Mayhemingways emerge within a region ripe with musical reputation in Ontario Canada. Benj Rowland executes lead vocals and employs a mixed bag of folk instruments like banjo, mandolin, accordion, and acoustic guitar. Josh Fewings anchors the tunes on the drums and elevates the melody with harmony vocals. They are a strong musical duo that converges with “Mind-bending and original music with deep roots in the tradition of dark North American folk” (Tom Wilson, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings & Lee Harvey Osmond).
Mayhemingways have experienced a full and fulfilling five years to bring them to present day. The duo released their first EP engineered by James McKenty (Blue Rodeo, Cuff The Duke, The Weber Brothers) in 2013, and followed it up with a full length “Hunter St Blues” produced and engineered by Steve Loree (Ian Tyson, Corb Lund, Petunia). They have voyaged across Canada and back again, and again, and set off for Europe gathering touring miles adding up to more than 600 shows together. Their most recent tour was with acclaimed Canadian rock figure Joel Plaskett and his father Bill on their “Solidarity” release tour which had the Mayhemingways employed as opening act, as well as backing band for the Plasketts each night.
The duo returned to Steve Loree’s Nanton, Alberta studio during a welcome February Chinook in 2017 to have him produce a new collection of their brand of folk songs. The new album “Skip Land” will be released February 23rd, 2018.
The opening and title track of “Skip Land” plays out like a soundtrack to a drive along the Otonabee River on a humid summers day. Fuzzy highway radio-dial stations coming in and out below a mid-tempo snare drum march and a claw hand banjo line weaving together to guide the listener down the road.
East coast folk reels imagining Canadian highways and the mornings after kitchen party’s (Frances The Truck Driver, Troubles in The Basement), and dark floating folk dirges ruminating on memory and everyday scenes from the life of a newborn (Bad Old Days, The Baby) make up the first half of this rich collection of tunes. The songs continue with up-tempo winter tinged vocal narratives about staying put due to the cold outside, and another snare drum anchored instrumental that feels like a cold march from one pub to another on the East Coast waterfront (Haybales, 14th of January). Deeper down the track list, Better Of You evokes what might be the perfect soundtrack for tracing a journey from the zydeco influenced bayou of Louisiana north east to the Blueridge Mountains of Tennessee that seem to become visible within the sound of the trad banjo picking in Hillbilly Heroin. The duo concludes the album with lush and layered harmonies on the mid-tempo folk rocker Into The Ground. On this last track, The Mayhemingways impart sobering commentary on listeners that we should expect some things to break down, as they’ve only got so many trips around the sun; things like tube amps, gasoline vans, and as bleak as it is true, our bodies.
“Skip Land” places The Mayhemingways firmly in line with the heritage of their home town of Peterborough; dark folk drenched melodies delivered with an electricity and veneer that shimmers within the space between the duo.