Plum instrumentalist

Chris McCluskey plays it like it is.

While Catriona Sturton is most familiar as the bassist from beloved ’90s act Plumtree, her skills with another instrument pre-date the band. Sturton’s first experience performing was with a harmonica and she’ll return to teach a beginner’s workshop on the topic at the Halifax Public Library on February 10.

“I studied it when I was a high school student, and when I was in Halifax I got to play with Dutch Mason and Rick Jeffries,” says Sturton from Kingston, Ontario, where she’s completing a degree in education. “When I moved to Halifax I was like a blues nut, I didn’t know indie rock at all. I heard about Sloan, I think I read about it in Macleans magazine? Yeah, cutting edge.”

The afternoon engagement will be followed by a performance accompanied by Andrew Glencross at Gus’ Pub. She says her set—and that of a rare support performance by Bryan Lee O’Malley—will include some old favourites, as well as a recently completed piece inspired by memories of people close to her.

“I wrote this song about my brother who passed away suddenly, and I when I was mixing it in January I kinda caught the news about Helen Hill,” she says. “It’s kind of like a New Orleans-based song. I think being in Halifax with that song it might be a whole lot more emotional. People might cry. People usually cry when I play, but not in a bad way.”

The Stolen Minks join Sturton and O’Malley.

Royal wave

Barely a week after launching his album A Good Enough Day at home in Toronto, Royal Wood is in Halifax to serenade the east coast with his latest. The troubadour, who sold out Toronto’s Music Gallery, will play a pair of solo shows on February 9 and 10 at North Street Church as part of the In the Dead of Winter festival.

“What’s mostly different,” says Wood about the new record, “is the amount of thought I put behind it. The arrangements, producing, picking a studio and picking some extra session musicians”—including Hawksley Workman and Harmony Trowbridge—“nothing was haphazard about it.”

While the folk-pop moniker would be fitting for 2004’s Tall Tales, the newest addition to your Royal Wood library has dropped the pop edge but maintains its earnest appeal.

“I really wanted to make a different record from Tall Tales,” he says. “It was fun and up-tempo and a blast to record, but this time around I really just wanted to make the mature record that I always wanted to make.”

This and that

If a 3,200-person pub crawl isn’t your thing—you’re not the only one—you’ll want to check out February 8 at Gus’ Pub with a strong bill featuring Great Plains, Murder She Wrote and Glory Glory Man United. The following night Tomcat Combat releases its debut EP at The Attic with Mardeen and Down with the Butterfly.

In local Juno nomination news, In-Flight Safety got a Video nod for “Coast is Clear,” directed by Drew Lightfoot, Matt Mays snagged a nod in the Adult Alternative category (um...what?) for When the Angels Make Contact, Classified’s phenomenal Hitch-Hikin’ Music is up for Rap Recording, Lennie Gallant represents over in the Roots and Traditional aisle, while George Canyon’s Somebody Wrote Love grabbed a Country nod.

The Juno Awards air on April 1.

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