Giving Appalachian old-time music a Nova Scotian spin | Arts & Culture | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST
The Old Beef String Band have come out with their first EP, 'Ride Home', consisting of their unique brand of Appalachian old-time music.

Giving Appalachian old-time music a Nova Scotian spin

The Old Beef String Band’s debut EP 'Ride Home' is out now

When Nova Scotians think of traditional music, some may conjure Celtic tunes that they’ve heard over the years.

For the Halifax-based Old Beef String Band, their minds go to a more southern style.

The band has been fiddling and step-dancing since 2015 when they were just jamming. Now, they’ve released their debut EP Ride Home, full of Appalachian old-time originals with a few covers sprinkled in.

The band features vocalist and guitarist Ellen Kearney, fiddler and vocalist Amy Lounder, and mandolin and banjo player and step dancer Dane George, all of whom have a passion for music from the American South.

While they all enjoyed playing in person for the first few years of their band, COVID put a quick end to that in 2020. The Old Beef String Band would have to pivot if they wanted to keep playing the music they love.

Stuck in their own homes, they decided to send tracks back and forth over email. This eventually became the basis of a new creative project.

“I know I was playing a ton, just like working on fiddle in my room, practising and stuff,” said Lounder in an interview with The Coast. “Ellen and Dan got into some collaborative songwriting. And that's where the two original songs on the album come out of that time.”

The two original songs, the titular “Ride Home” and “The Love You Give”, were an interesting experiment for the band. While they personally loved Appalachian old-time music, Lounder said much of the traditional music in Nova Scotia is Celtic.

“Writing from that place is a little more challenging,” said Lounder when asked about writing outside of her own cultural context. “We all listen to a lot of old-time music and have played traditional music—Ellen went to school in Kentucky and studied this stuff. And we’ve been playing it for 10 years. So, we are immersed in it in that way, so our songwriting comes out of that.”

They also have a tune—an instrumental song—composed by Lounder titled “Cynthia”, along with covers of “Hot Sausage Mama” and “Gospel Plough”.

The album is now available on streaming services. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for performances from the band, which are known to be lots of fun.

“We have a few tricks up our sleeves,” said Lounder. “We play the fiddle sticks, and we always bring in Dane to do some flat footing. He kind of steals the show because it's pretty entertaining to watch him.”

The Old Beef String Band will be holding a garden party album release show at the Evergreen House in Dartmouth on July 7 from 3-6pm. The entry fee is $10 and refreshments will be available. Children under 12 get in free.

For more on the Old Beef String Band, visit their website.

Brendyn Creamer

Brendyn is a reporter for The Coast covering news, arts and entertainment throughout Halifax. He was formerly the lead editor of the Truro News and The News (New Glasgow) weekly publications. Hailing from Norris Arm North, a small community in central Newfoundland, his aversion to the outside world has led him...
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