The Fretless is the Canadian fiddle foursome playing an essential part in the emerging movement mainstreaming traditional Irish folk music.
Starting with its debut album in 2012, the band has steadily pushed further into the public eye, winning Instrumental Album of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards and Instrumental Group of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. Its 2014 tune “Waving To Ryan” has topped a million Spotify plays, and in 2016, The Fretless took home a Juno™ award for Instrumental Album of The Year for its most recent full-length Bird’s Nest.
Through its deconstruction and transformation of the usual rhythmic, harmonic and structured arrangements of fiddle styles around the world, The Fretless is pushing traditional music to a new place, and has now issued itself an atypical challenge in the mission to find and convert fans unfamiliar with “progressive” traditional music.
With its latest recordings, instead of attempting to make a more “accessible” follow-up to Bird’s Nest, The Fretless is taking advantage of the recent recognition by releasing an instrumental album of tunes representing the player’s traditional roots. Recorded live in a barn in upstate New York before a handful-sized audience assembled only a few feet away from the players, Live From The Artfarm (April 6th) is the raw result of this performance.
Live From The Artfarm is a joyous recording that shows off why traditional folk music is finding an audience among the non-traditional, and also why The Fretless is leading the charge. Among the album’s “sets” – the term used in traditional Irish music for groups of three or more tunes arranged and played together – are three new originals by
The Fretless. The album’s total of ten tunes were also beautifully filmed before multiple cameras, and singles from Live From The Artfarm will be circulated that way in order for the uninitiated to fully experience the boundless electricity of the evening.
“We’ve made a record of our favorite pub tunes, but transformed them in our world of arrangement and intricacy,” says fiddle and viola player, Trent Freeman. “We are hoping to bring the current pub crowd audience to us and we are hoping to bring a new crowd to the pub, too. We want everyone involved and there’s no better way than to have you in the room with us.”
It’s a give and take that makes the audience the fifth member of the band towards the end of the new album. As the enthusiastic response from the crowd grows, the band responds in kind.'
“Making this record was a test in getting out of the mindset of recording and into the mindset of performing,” says The Fretless cellist, Eric Wright continues. “To capture the energy of a concert, we had to play it like a concert. With Live From The Artfarm, we’re so excited to share the best part of The Fretless, which is seeing us live!”
The Fretless already has shows throughout North America booked into the fall, with more being added all the time. For those who can’t make it out, Live From The Artfarm serves as a document of what The Fretless can do in front of any crowd, big or small.
Live From The Artfarm, the fourth album by The Fretless, arrives on April 6th, 2018.