Shadow Folk (Justin McGrath) at Menz Bar
Not everyone around here knows that in the early 1960s, Denny Doherty
was playing in bands in his hometown of Halifax before getting signed to Columbia Records.
He soon met Cass Elliot
and in 1965 Denny and Cass released "Go Where You Wanna Go
," their first single as a folk-pop quartet with Michelle
and John Phillips
called The Mamas and The Papas
. It was a short-lived affair, but they released a number of massive hits that are definitive of the era. Halifax was even mentioned in their 1966 version of "Dancing in the Street.
" Fast-forward forty years and that monumental legacy has rippled through Halifax music ever since. Take the opening line of "Nothing More to Say" by the Joel Plaskett Emergency
: "All the leaves are gone, / I don't give a fuck
, / Let the winter come on, I think I'll try my luck," a riff on the opening verse and chorus of "California Dreamin
." In some ways, 1960s folk-pop is part of our heritage.
Last weekend, Halifax's Shadow Folk
released a split LP with Sunny Beaches:
six tracks that circle back to Halifax's folk-pop past. Featuring the songwriting of Justin McGrath
), with Jordan Murphy
(Walrus) and Ian Bennett
, Shadow Folk takes on those 1960s British-invasion vibes — harmonic layers, ominous two-part storytelling in the Billy
songs, bluesy runs, '70s freakiness, experimental distortion, audio from the Heaven's Gate
cult and instrumental interludes. It's very interesting music that leans on folk-pop nostalgia, and creates new context for it. The recordings themselves sound excellent (done by Charles Austin
, mastered by James O'Toole/Luke Mumford
). The LP songs jump off from Shadow Folk's 2012 Floyd-
esque EP Green Window
while preserving connections to it ("Heaven's Gate II"); it's thematically consistent, contemporary folk in the literal shadows of a passed era.
"What we are about is authentic rock and roll from the 1960s and 1970s," says McGrath. Honestly, he's nailing it. Take some time to get into this and keep an eye out for a Shadow Folk show.