Friday, June 18, 2010

BOOTLEG : THE CROFTERS



The Crofters were a band from Glengarry (Canada) founded by the bothers McIntosh, Ewen and Stephen, who have played in bands such as The Glengarry Bhoys, The Peelers and The Mahones.

This Recording of Independent Origin includes some tracks that were available at their website: two tracks at a radio show, one track live and one demo track.


"The Crofters were a trapeze act. Widely regarded as one of the hardest working bands in Eastern Ontario, the group played too hard, drove too hard, lived too hard, and ultimately fell from the heights they so quickly scaled. The latest release “It Was Easier When We Were Kids” is a reflection from the band’s founder and principal Ewen McIntosh on the years spent scrambling blindly towards fame and fortune.

“It came as no surprise to many that the Crofters have come to where they are today.” says Ewen, “I started the band so I could play my songs live, but it all changed. It really was easier when we were kids. It just became too difficult to move forward, and we could all see our impending stratification.” Currently facing a lineup re-tool and two albums’ worth of material gathering dust, the Crofters are a skeleton screw not unlike their early days.

The idea to start the Crofters began in 1997, when brothers Ewen and Stephen McIntosh began to explore and push the limits of the traditional Scottish tunes passed down to them through a long ancestry of Glengarry musicians.

In 1998 Ewen offered his services to well known Celtic performers ‘The Glengarry Bhoys,' and played bass with them for three years. During that time he traveled much of the U.S. and Canada, performed on their third release 'The Gathering' and provided musical direction as co-producer on their fourth record 'Exile.' His yearning to share music on his own terms grew over time, eventually marking a part with the Bhoys to pursue his own creative aspirations. With a basement studio, much coffee and little sleep, Ewen self-recorded 'Unit no. 1'. This first solo effort is a collection of original songs and a few traditional tunes; all of the instruments on the recording were played and mixed by Ewen, thus achieving a truly 'solo' work.

Stephen, meanwhile, had been playing bass, mandolin, tin whistle and bagpipes with celto-ska-punkers 'The Peelers,' and had shared the stage with many Celtic acts, notably as support for the Mahones on the Eastern leg of their Canadian tour. Both Stephen and Ewen have played on various Peelers recordings.

After having gained much experience both on the road and in the studio, Ewen formed the Crofters in early 2002. He recruited obvious-foundational member Stephen to handle the challenges of a mulit-instrumentalist role. They recruited long-time friend (there's baby pictures to prove it) William McKiver to play drums and Jeff Dewar for bass duties.

With this preliminary lineup, The Crofters quickly tore up the Canadian bar scene with their reckless renditions of traditional Celtic tunes. Shortly after their first summer, the band added Kenton McBean to their roster to help cope with Stephen's absence (both Ewen and Stephen bore full-time university schedules at the time). Throughout the fall of 2002 and spring of 2003 the band's reach grew, leading to longer road trips and extended days away from home.

Stephen’s return from school in the spring marked Kenton’s departure and the band began a more fervent tour schedule as well as rehearsals for their next album. One late night in Fredricton, New Brunswick, the band overheard some testosterone-laden bravado that became the title of the record: Hold My Beer While I Kiss Your Girlfriend. Armed with such a catchy (if not cheeky) title, the band’s release went on to sell over 2000 copies worldwide. Their version of “Scotland the Brave” is rated as one of the most popular selections on Apples’ Itunes.

Everything seemed to be looking up for The Crofters, but the band caught a number of snags shortly thereafter. Ewen and Stephen lost their father, Donald, to lymphoma on September 30th. The fall was tough; Ewen had previously signed on to play tours with Universal Music’s “The Mahones” on both their Canadian and European tours. After the brothers’ loss and Ewen’s grueling tours, the Crofters had trouble returning to the party antics for which they had become known. This change also brought to light more subversive problems plaguing the band. The Crofters were no longer a vehicle for Ewen’s music, and the expectations for the band became scattered.

The band soldiered on into 2004 armed with a new record, a new van and a hundred thousand kilometers of tour dates. Their popularity grew over the spring, and by summer of ’04, the band was playing sold-out shows at home and abroad. While they enjoyed the benefits of their success, the blank stares on the faces of both leader and bandmates during performances told otherwise.
Pushed to grow their faithful fanbase, the group toured the US in the fall of 2004. After a successful tour, the band tried to go into the studio to complete their first full-band recording (prior to this Ewen did most of the studio work). After some efforts the record was mothballed. Thinking that touring would reignite some enthusiasm, Ewen steered the band back into the road for 2005.

The pattern of growth continued in 2005; the boys played to thousands across the countryside and continued to spread their name. They found themselves on Ottawa and Kingston radio stations, as well as interest from major-label distributors. The overt incline did not balance the inner decline, however, and Ewen decided to end the cycle by July. Chris Benton and Willie McKiver started the now-popular “Casting Fadora.” Ewen went into his home studio and recorded “It Was Easier When We Were Kids” in the fall and released the album in the dying days of 2005.

The original members- Ewen, Stephen, Jeff and Willie- got together to play a New Years Eve show at D’Arcy McGee’s in Ottawa. The 250-seat show was a sold out affair. The band played a full night from 10pm ‘till 1am, and covered their entire 80-plus song catalogue as well as selections from the new album.

Currently Ewen is writing new music that will build the basis for the new incarnation of The Crofters. Jeff and Steve hang around, eat chips, and nod in approval."

Discography:

"Hold My Beer While I Kiss Your Girlfriend" (10 tracks, 2003)

"It Was easier When We Were Kids" (13 tracks, 2005)


(click on the title to purchase the CDs from CDBaby)



www.ewenmcintosh.com/2005.htm (The Crofters' website)



"About 120 nights a year, Ewen plays mandolin and bass in a bunch of Folk and Celtic bands in Eastern Ontario and from time-to-time writes and records his own songs and then plays them live.

A while back he played bass for Terry Woods and Phil Chevron of The Pogues and toured Europe and Canada with The Mahones. Before that he toured a couple times across the US with The Peelers and The Glengarry Bhoys.

Ewen founded The Crofters, a band that logged in about 330 nights across Ontario, Quebec and the Eastern Seaboard of America. They made two records, one of which was written and recorded entirely by Ewen.

During the day he teaches kids to play better than what he can muster from his lead hands as a high school music teacher. "


http://radio3.cbc.ca/#/bands/Ewen-McIntosh


DOWNLOAD:

www.mediafire.com/?3duygdmdmnz
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