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An eclectic take on modern bluegrass

New Cumberland brings its unique sounds to the Commercial Tavern for a Saturday afternoon show


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New Cumberland will be blowing the roof off The Commercial Tavern in Maryhill this weekend with their own brand of bluegrass music.

On Saturday afternoon, Paul Hurdle and the rest of New Cumberland will be taking the stage with a modern, updated take on bluegrass, a sound the banjo player says he hopes gives the audience a good show.

“I hope they are going to see something very different from the usual bands they see with a different material list and hopefully they appreciate the workmanship of everybody in the band. I hope everyone will enjoy that,” he said, describing the band’s take on bluegrass. “Our sound is rooted in bluegrass, probably more contemporary bluegrass than old-timey bluegrass. And our choice of material is very eclectic. It covers a broad range from Neil Young to the Grateful Dead to Bill Monroe. It is quite an expansive repertoire we have, so depending on where we are playing, we set up our set list accordingly.”

The band is chockfull of Canadian bluegrass music veterans, including Hurdle himself who has been awarded the Canadian Pioneer award for his work with another band, The Country Rebels. He is a nationally renowned banjo player who has actually played at The Commercial Tavern before.

“I played there a long, long time ago, about 40 years,” he said. “It was the very late ’60s and we were just out of our teens. There was a lot of action going on in the Waterloo area at the time with the university there, and in Maryhill, so it was only natural that we go to the Commercial.”

Hurdle is joined by Tom Burns, New Cumberland’s lead singer and guitar player. He is a veteran of the bluegrass scene and has played with Hurdle for over 35 years. Blair Heddle played with both Burns and Hurdle in a band called Hot Springs in the 1970s.

“We were really edgy back then,” said Hurdle. “Everybody was into straight bluegrass, but we were on the outside edges. It was different.”

Tom Rutledge will be playing the standup bass with New Cumberland on Saturday. Hurdle says he is an excellent addition to the band. Last, but not least, is Darren Schott. Schott plays the fiddle and the mandolin. He has worked with The Good Brothers, Stompin’ Tom Connors, George Fox and more.

“For us it is just good music,” said Hurdle. “We have good singing, the good three part harmonies, the well-rounded musicianship and a very cohesive togetherness. There are no prima donnas in the band. Whatever we are playing, we are playing as whole, as a unit, and I think that shows on stage once we are in the groove. We know each other very well. It isn’t just a bunch of guys swatting out tunes.”

The show starts at 4 p.m. and runs for three hours. The doors will be open to ticketholders at 3:30 p.m.

Tickets are $10 each, and can be purchased by calling 519-648-3644.

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