How times flies.
It has been a little more than four years since Monastery’s Dillan Tate and Bailey’s Brook’s Calen Kinney joined the self-described ‘folk n’ roll’ band The Stanfields; the well-regarded and award-winning music group based in Halifax.
They did so as their band at the time, the Fourth Well, put a wrap on their roughly five-year run; punctuated with their last gig as one of the opening acts for the legendary Steve Earle, at the 2015 Riverfront Jubilee in New Glasgow.
The Fourth Well was made up of, like Tate, east Antigonish County musicians - Daniel Fougere, Jonathan Bennett and Josh Bennet – as well as Josh McGrath, an import from Truro.
Tate and Kinney will be getting a chance to play a little closer to home next month as The Stanfields finish up a recent tour which has included stops in Quebec, Ontario, Maine, New Brunswick and P.E.I., with shows in Nova Scotia, including Truro’s Marigold Cultural Centre Nov. 14 and New Glasgow’s Glasgow Square Nov. 23.
“It has been great; we’ve been pretty busy over the years,” Tate, who plays bass, said, during a brief break in the recent tour Oct. 10.
“I’ve been to a lot of new places which has been fun and interesting.”
Kinney, who plays violin or fiddle, bouzouki, and has just added piano to his repertoire, described his time in The Stanfields as “pure joy … a delight.”
Both musicians talked about whether the experience has reflected their expectations going in, four years ago.
“I think a little bit of both,” Tate said, meaning it has and hasn’t.
“We know the guys were, kind of, in a different tier, so joining we expected to be lifted more into the music scene which, definitely, has happened. We’ve been all over Canada, into the States, overseas to Germany a few times. It has been a really great learning experience for sure.”
Kinney echoed the thought of some expectations being met, combined with the unexpected.
“When I first joined The Stanfields, I joined my most favourite band in the world,” he said. “My perception was, ‘I don’t have to work no more’ ‘my life is made’ ‘everything is hunky-dory’… it wasn’t really quite like that. It’s still very much a hustle and in a lot of ways we’re still, very much, grinding it out.
“With that though comes a lot of fun times. We’re doing this tour through Ontario and some bars are smaller than others and some turnouts are smaller than others, but you really just make the most of it and, with this group of guys, we’re always just trying to have as much fun as we can.
“And we really just appreciate the fact we get to do something like this; hop in a van, tell jokes, and drive around Canada playing music. That’s a part of it, a part I’m really honoured to be part of … honoured to be asked to be part of.”
The duo reflected back on the Fourth Well and talked about how much they stay in touch with the other members.
“Those guys, I grew up with them. When I see them or talk to them, it’s as if no time has passed,” Tate said.
“I was just at Jonathan’s wedding in the summer, which was great. I see Dan, Josh, and the other Josh [McGrath] quite often. It’s always great; I’m in contact with those guys on a regular basis.”
Kinney said the closeness you develop as a young band never really goes away.
“When you’re in a band like that and do as much traveling as we did, there is this brotherhood that comes with it,” he said. “We all still feel, very much, like we’re family,” he said.
“We’re all growing up and finding our own ways,” he added, noting too the marriage of a member this summer and another former member being engaged.
“Everyone is, kind of, settling into their lives. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see them as much as we want to, but whenever we do, it’s always good for a laugh. Good clean fun, as we say.”
As for how they’ve grown as performers since joining The Stanfields, Tate talked about getting more involved in the creative side.
“Especially in terms of video content,” he said. “I’ve taken some strides towards doing music videos and helping out as much as I can creatively with the band. Whether that is artwork or being part of the creative production, which is what I enjoy the most.”
Kinney said he is growing as a performer and making adjustments constantly.
“I’m still learning more about myself all the time, as a contributing artist,” he said.
“I’m trying to find my role as a violin player; The Stanfields never had a violin player before I joined so I, kind of, had to find my own role. I’ve made some mistakes along the way and that’s one big thing, learning not to play so darn much all of the time, because I can get buried in the mix.
“It’s striking a balance and figuring out how to play well while having a lot of fun on stage.”
Kinney also talked about the doors opened to him because he is part of such a prominent band.
“The thing about playing in the ‘Stans’ is, it’s such a great thing to have on your resume; it has bridged a lot of opportunities for me as well,” he said.
“I’ve had the opportunity to play with a lot of really interesting acts. For example, I got to play a little bit with Jimmy Rankin this summer.”
As for the upcoming shows not too far from home, both said they’re looking forward to playing in front of “familiar” faces.
“We love playing around the Maritimes,” Tate said. “It’s great seeing a lot of familiar faces; always a pleasure.”
“The Marigold is a freakin’ amazing venue,” Kinney said, noting too his girlfriend is from the Hub Town, so he’ll have his own little rooting section.
“And, of course, New Glasgow is, kind of, my hometown. They [folks attending] are there to have a good laugh, a couple of drinks and a good time. Those are our people; it’s nice to play in front of them.”
The Stanfields have released a couple of news singles, Breakers in the Dark and Rules Have All the Fun, and for more on the songs and the band, visit their website at thestanfields.ca.