Roche Uhntraal digs on the Hermit.

The latest product of Darmouth’s consequential alt-country tradition are the kind of like-minded friends who perpetually have their instruments in hand. Whether the members of The Grass are sitting in their living room or around the kitchen table, there is rarely a moment of dead air in their Vernon Street flat. Strangers and acquaintances alike are welcomed to their first hootenanny of 2006 on January 7 at the Khyber Club, which will mark the release of their debut Mulgrave.

“Our very first road trip that we did was to Mulgrave, which is near Cape Breton, and it was this huge family reunion,” member Lindsay Rogers explains over coffee. “It really gave us a step in the right direction, seeing people supporting and believing in us. Everyone in Mulgrave.”

A collective with eight permanent members, The Grass formed recently with the vision of collaborating on a sound that suggests a combined representation of their heroes, including Bob Dylan, Neil Young and The Band. With a diverse array of instruments including piano, harmonica, guitar, bass, organ and slide guitar, their arrangement is also worthy of note since they are an industry paradox - an east coast band that actually includes a fiddle.

In the short time they have been together, they have shown up wherever live, original music can be found. They are becoming increasingly known for their marathon sets — there will be no support act — including some covers thrown in for fun.

“It’s a big faux pas sometimes with some people,” says vocalist and bassist Willis Ryan. “We don’t care about that though, I’ve seen so many shows in my life and heard so many songs I didn’t care about. There are so many songs I would love to hear at a show that I couldn’t hear because it wasn’t cool, or something.”

Rogers agrees. “We play all of our own songs anyways, and by the end of the night that’s when we mainly do the covers because everyone wants to sing along,” she says. “It’s more of a crowd-pleaser thing.”

Thrush Hermit emerges

The Joel Plaskett Emergency said farewell to more than just 2005 at The Marquee Club on December 31. Ian McGettigan has played his last show with the Emergency for the foreseeable future, and as he shared the stage with Plaskett he was also accompanied by Rob Benvie, in a surprise reunion of Thrush Hermit.

The group played “The Day We Hit the Coast” and “From the Back of the Film” from their last record, 1998’s indie classic, Clayton Park. McGettigan says it came together quickly.

“You know what, we only really thought of it like a couple nights before,” he says. “We were playing the show, and I think Joel got in touch with Rob. We only practiced at sound check the night before.”

Now, after New Year’s Eve — a show that left no one wanting more with 20 Plaskett originals, numerous covers, the Hermit reunion and special guests — McGettigan will be based in Toronto, where he has lived for five years, and will now concentrate on his and Benvie’s new project, Camouflage Nights.

“Things are starting to heat up with Camouflage Nights and it’s starting to get too hectic to kind of juggle it all,” says McGettigan. “It was a combination of, I would feel like I would be letting myself down if I was putting off opportunity for my own music. And ultimately, if I couldn’t play a show I would be depriving those guys of working.”

The split was amicable, and McGettigan is confident he’ll perform with Plaskett again in the future.

“I am kind of sad about it. It was the last show and even the surroundings, it was like jeez,” he says. “Joel and I have been really close for years, since grade seven…I am sure we’re not done yet and we’ll end up together again at some point in some capacity. It’s bittersweet, for sure.”

Bittersweet symphony:

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