Cape Breton octet picking up Air Miles and accolades
Tom Fun sounds like the kind of guy you’d want at your house when the snow is blowing outside and the wine is flowing inside. He might not be the guy to keep you focused on those dark nights when your college degree is in the balance but hey there are other friends who serve that purpose.
Indeed Tom Fun Orchestra is named for its intentions and they’re pretty much written on its sleeve. Listening to the pieces it assembled on its debut You Will Land with a Thud the octet draws your blood to the surface and gets your electrons swapping orbits with its brand of roots-inflected big-band noise.
Still we’ll all likely know more about these Nova Scotians soon as they’re traversing Canada in a pattern designed to maximize their Air Miles rewards playing Calgary the second time in three weeks at The Marquee Room on August 7.
Today MacDougall — the group’s self-described “artistic quarterback” — is calling prior to a performance in Sudbury Ont. As he explains the Orchestra was formed in Cape Breton N.S. after he returned from his European travels with a pocketful of songs. But despite its geographic roots and its decidedly East Coast instrumentation he’s not comfortable with the perception of being a spoons-and-fiddles Maritime act.
“I don’t know if that’s accurate or not. I think people just want to apply that to us” says MacDougall. “We have a fiddle player and an accordion player and a banjo and people say ‘They’re from Cape Breton so it must be a kitchen party’.”
“We just make music that we enjoy and we enjoy playing” he continues. “I don’t know if we’re trying to make something that subscribes to a certain sound or fits into a certain place.”
And that he adds is part of the Orchestra’s fun — and the reason it has been able to slot on nearly any bill from folk festivals to indie rock showcases.
But don’t believe us: Just take a look at its iCal schedule. After playing the woolly landscape of the Calgary Folk Music Festival the group next travelled to the B.C. coastal village of Dominion before opening for Primus in Toronto in July.
And as impressive as its tour schedule was it’s perhaps even more impressive that the band managed to capture the attention of diehard Claypool-ites.
“There wasn’t the level of crowd surfing that Primus got but it was at capacity when we were there. I would never have expected to be paired with a band like that” MacDougall says.
It’s been two years since the release of You Will Land With a Thud and the group is currently putting together a new batch of songs. While MacDougall doesn’t expect the album to be available until next year the troupe has released “The Watchmaker” a digital single on its website.
As for its new record MacDougall is wary about labelling its sonic aesthetic.
“Most modern music is an amalgamation of so many different things and it’s really hard to put your finger on a specific category” he says. “We often just get that Cape Breton celtic jazz fusion comparison. But what we’re doing is beyond that description.”