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Monday, May 27, 2024
Home Arts Prince Albert’s April Moon gives the U.K. a taste of ‘Canadiana’

Prince Albert’s April Moon gives the U.K. a taste of ‘Canadiana’

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Prince Albert’s April Moon gives the U.K. a taste of ‘Canadiana’
Prince Albert’s Jaime April (left) and Jason Moon (right) of April Moon perform during a live show in the United Kingdom. The pair have spent the last 10 years moving around the U.K. They currently make their home in Liverpool. -- Photo courtesy of Lucy Bell.

Bluegrass musical duo April Moon has spent the past 10 years performing at festivals, clubs, and pubs across the United Kingdom, but they haven’t forgotten their roots.

Although they now live in Liverpool, Jaime April and Jason Moon retain a fondness for the province they grew up in, and the City of Prince Albert, which they once called home.

“There’s something about it (Saskatchewan) that makes us what to communicate that to audiences over here,” Moon said during an interview with the Daily Herald. “When we were back in Saskatchewan last July and August we shot a video in a little town just south of Saskatoon. The purpose of shooting the video out there in all the fields and stuff like that is so people here would see what it’s all like, because they just have no conception of how big it is and how wide the horizon is.”

“That beauty of Saskatchewan, people (in the U.K.) are enchanted with it,” April added. “It’s always one of the first things in a conversation when we meet new people. They want to know what it’s like back there, and I think some of the songs kind of have that definite Saskatchewan vibe that gets it across.”

April Moon has embraced their Saskatchewan heritage every step of their musical journey. That’s apparent on their most recent album, ‘The Other One was You’, which came out in November.

The track list includes songs like ‘The Lord Hath Taken Away’, which is based on April’s grandmother’s stories about growing up near Moose Jaw. It pairs well with some of the group’s most popular songs like ‘Bloody Suzy’, which takes a whimsical look at April’s sister’s job performing cow autopsies.

The duo refers to their style as Canadiana, a phrase they heard about second-hand, then adopted to distinguish themselves from their American counterparts.

“We used to joke about it because our last album that came out in November has quite a lot of songs that sound kind of Americana,” Moon said. “People would say, oh, you play Americana, and I would always say, no, it’s Canadiana.”

“We’ve co-opted the name,” April added. “It’s a funny kind of quirky word, but I think labelling yourself your own genre means that you don’t have to adhere to any rules within a genre. You can do what you want and just say, ‘yeah, it’s that thing.’”

Creating an album during the COVID lockdowns proved a unique challenge. The duo stepped away from live music for seven months to work on an animated film project about a stick-puppet cowboy called ‘The Ballad of Johnny West.’ The film won awards for its soundtrack at the Sandgrounder International Short Film Festival, and helped keep the group busy while the live music scene was shut down.

Moon said they got some traction after working on that film, and moved on to fleshing out new songs in a mobile studio album in their flat before returning to a regular recording studio.

“We managed to use our time during the lockdown wisely,” he said. “We didn’t lose our minds too much.”

Moon played gigs at the National Hotel in Prince Albert as an 18-year-old, and fell in love with the Beatles after discovering his parents’ vinyl collection. As a Beatles fan, living and playing music in Liverpool has been a dream come true, especially when April Moon secured a spot opening for American band Sebastian and the Poor Valley Marauders at Liverpool’s legendary Cavern Club, the original home of the Beatles.

Their performance earned plenty of positive reviews, with one critic calling it “the most sunshine-filled performance I think I’ve ever seen.”

“It’s a massive, massive music scene over here,” April said. “Obviously, Liverpool’s a big city, so it’s huge, but you can go out of town to any small town and any night of the week there will either be live music on, an open mic, a jam session, just everywhere.

April grew up playing in her school band, but never dreamed of playing bluegrass music, especially in the U.K. However, she’s embraced the journey.

“I didn’t really get into guitar until I was an adult,” she said. “That was kind of a late dream for me. We were quite both heavily involved in the theatre world in PA, so I thought if I was going anywhere, it would be through something like that.”

Both musicians credit members of the Prince Albert music scene like Don Mitchell, Jim Scarrow, and Laurent Fournier with giving them the boost they needed to succeed. While they’ve focused on smaller more intimate venues in the past, this year they’re hoping to play larger festivals across the U.K., like the recent Liverpool Sound City Festival that ran from April 28-30.

They also plan to return to Saskatchewan for a visit this summer.

“(Liverpool) is the place where I’m living right now, but there’s still a huge piece of my heart that lies there (in Saskatchewan), which is why we go back every year,” April said. “We try and go in the summer. The pace of life is so different from here. I don’t know. There’s something about it that just really makes me feel alive in a different way.”

Music lovers can listen to April Moon on all major streaming services, or purchase their new album at https://aprilmoon.bandcamp.com/.