Canadian root map

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The Canucks are coming - with two Canadian bands bringing something different to Sheffield this weekend.

At the Library Theatre on Friday Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys open a UK tour which will be rounded off at the Glastonbury Festival at the end of June.

Hailing from Prince Island Island they serve up old-time roots music with an infectious energy.

MacKeeman has the nickname ‘Crazy Legs’ thanks to his thrilling dance style while playing the fiddle mixed with great bluegrass vocals. With Peter Cann’s blistering guitar solos and the lively multi-instrumental talents of Thomas Webb and Mark Geddes it adds up to a live experience of non-stop entertainment.

They will return to the UK in August and September to launch a new studio album, Pickin’ and Clickin’, their UK debut distributed by Proper, and a further run of festivals and venue shows between August 29 and September 15.

Renowned North American blues-singer-songwriter-guitarist Matt Andersen is bringing Coal Mining Blues to South Yorkshire.

That’s the name of his current album which he is promoting on his UK tour which comes to The Greystones on Saturday. They say the best performers who sound like they really mean what they’re singing about, tend to come from areas known for hard times and hard work. And that certainly goes for Perth-Andover, a rural blue-collar village in the Canadian Maritime province of New Brunswick -where Andersen hails from.

“Perth-Andover’s a really small, family-oriented community”, he says. “Everybody knows everybody. My dad’s worked as a logger pretty much his whole life. But there’s always been music around: My grandfather played fiddle, my mom plays piano in church.

“Most of my cousins have had bands at some point. Whenever there’s a get-together there’s always about nine or ten fiddles or guitars in the room.”

Not surprisingly Anderson began playing early on in the school band, first on tuba and later on trumpet and took up guitar at 14.

“Through Eric Clapton I got into BB King, which led me to the Chicago electric stuff and eventually back to the Mississippi Delta guys”, recalls the 30-year-old singer. “What really hit me most about the blues was its total honesty.”

Coal Mining Blues was produced by Colin Linden who co-wrote and plays on several tunes, and was recorded at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, New York. Featuring the band keyboardist Garth Hudson and Ollabelle singer Amy Helm, it’s a rich vein of songs addressing the trying lives of working people:

There’s the self-explanatory Hard for the Luxury and the moving title track, which rings true in mining communities from Cape Breton and West Virginia to South Yorkshire.. But not all of Coal Mining Blues is about hard work, as rollicking up-tempo cuts like Lay it on the Line and Fired Up bear out.