In a little house on Windsor Street lives a group of hardworking musicians, known as The Moonshine Ramblers. They struggle with the grind of making money in a city where many live-music venues have closed and a sense of community is essential. Since they moved in last year, the Ramblers have brought the community to their home, holding house shows and hosting practices.
"You can get a hundred people in here. We had such a nice space in our attic that we just had to share it with other people, and hell, it's fun to play with as many people as possible," says Andrew Sneddon, poet, giant and local bluegrass hero. "It's how you get better. The more music you take in, the more music you can put out."
The foundation of this musical house also includes bassist Adam Pye, bluegrass veteran Scott McCormack, guitar player Mark Gallant and cynical sound engineer Evan Cox, all in their mid-20s, working their nights away to realize their dreams.
Their house shows are legendary, from poetry to punk, mimes to noise bands, rock 'n' roll to reggae, blues to bluegrass, and the list goes on. While they're into every type of musical genre, they love to argue about their preferred artists almost as much as they like to play. During the interview, they debate musical greats and have a difficult time not playing their instruments while answering questions.
"Sound is only made when people hear it," says Cox, over guitar strumming by Pye. "If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it...does it make a sound? The answer is no." As a result Cox makes sure that pretty much all the music performed in the attic is recorded. Most of The Moonshine Ramblers' upcoming album was recorded at home after their first attempt at a release failed when two hard drives crashed last April.
This hasn't stopped the boys from experimenting with different genres and both new and familiar approaches to making music. Weird sound experiments are commonplace---last night they played a banjo through a vocoder. Weird houseguests are equally common.
"We have had senior citizens wailing to spoken word poets, and a drunk smashing in a window because he thought he knew someone's name and didn't," says Gallant. "All the weird shit comes hand in hand with the best space we could ask for."
They have no idea who built the studio, or why. The house's previous occupant was a man on a pullout couch who stayed there during weekends. Now it's the home of a whole community of musicians who need a place to play. And usually an out-of-town musician is crashing on their couch.
"Sometimes music is how we make our living," says Sneddon. "But music is always what we live for." Expect to see The Moonshine Ramblers out of the attic in February when they release their first album and tour the Maritimes.
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