It is safe to say few bands – if any – have gotten their start at St. F.X.’s Mount Saint Bernard.
Nevertheless, an up-and-coming sextet can make that claim. The Fourth Well got its start – and band name –from their early days playing together at the university residence.
“We started jamming and decided to put the band together,” Ryan Levangie said.
After playing together over the past few years in a variety of combinations, including everyone other than Iain Beaton during their high school days at East Antigonish Academy, the sextet came together officially in late 2010.
Beaton and Johnathan Bennett lived at the Mount – where the newly-formed group often jammed on the fourth floor – a wellness floor.
“It’s an alcohol free floor, but it wasn’t very alcohol free,” Beaton laughed.
Combine the fourth floor lounge with being on a wellness floor and you get The Fourth Well.
“That’s where we first ever played together,” Levangie said.
Josh Bennett said the band started with weekend jam sessions because the members were scattered with some living in Antigonish, others in Halifax.
Prior to becoming The Fourth Well, the musicians gained their first broad exposure when they covered Little Lion Man for a Youtube video (see www.thecasket.ca).
“We put that on Facebook and we got a really good reception,” Bennett said.
With that positive feedback, the young men decided to form the band, highlighted by what the members describe as an alternative Celtic fusion.
“Our original stuff is funky – stuff you can dance to. We try to be upbeat,” Levangie said.
The group’s current play list is 50-50 in terms of cover and original tunes.
“Our covers are bands like Great Big Sea – a lot of East Coast stuff. We like to get people up on the dance floor and into it,” Levangie said
More and more, the group is moving towards penning original songs, which will be the centrepiece of a debut CD targeted for this summer.
“That’s a big goal for us and we are working hard towards it,” Levangie said.
The Fourth Well is gaining a reputation of providing foot stomping, high energy performances. Each show offering a great deal of variety highlighted by the eclectic talents of the band members.
Levangie (piano, guitar, banjo and back-up vocals), Beaton (fiddle and piano), Josh Bennett (mandolin, guitar and back-up vocals), Jonathan Bennett (lead vocals and bodhran), Dillan Tate (bass) and Daniel Fougere (drums) are the pieces of The Fourth Well puzzle.
Just like on stage, the song-writing process is a collaborative effort, with each member pitching in ideas, including their first original tune Said and Done.
“We all came together. Iain had a piece he had done on fiddle. We really liked it so we built off that,” Bennett said of the debut song.
“We all added our pieces to it,” he added.
Along with live performances, much of their focus is building up their library of original material.
Levangie and Bennett noted their band-mate Beaton puts out the most material.
“We all do it. We come together on the lyrics and stuff,” Beaton added.
The group members said they “are going to take it as far as we can,” when asked if this is going to be their career choice.
The band continues to get more performance dates, including many in the Strait. They helped ring in the New Year at The Piper’s Pub, while the Hoff Pub and Grill in Inverness has been a frequent stop.
In early March, the group is heading to Fort McMurray to play in a winter festival, opening for Alert the Medic and The Stanfields.
“It’s a pond hockey tournament with two stages, so it sounds like it is going to be a lot of fun,” Levangie said.
“There’s a lot of east coast people out there, so we are looking forward to playing for them,” Bennett added.
As the band has grown, the members said they have received a great deal of advice and help from bands such as The Stanfields, including production of The Fourth Well’s original material.
The Fourth Well will take centre stage Friday night at Chuggles on James Street in Antigonish.
For more about the band, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TheFourthWell.