Licence Tequila

The Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra are party professionals

If you haven’t heard of Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra it’s about time you got acquainted. Lucky for you they’re stopping in town this week as part of their epic three-month cross-Canada tour. The five-piece roots ensemble is incredibly fresh bringing hints of gypsy-jazz and ragtime to music that grows organically from their West Coast jams. The songs are beautiful offering both contemplative lyrics and a rich energy. Accordion and fiddle stand out giving the songs a roots feel but the band members’ diverse backgrounds creep in on each song to make it something truly unique.

These five boys are no strangers to Calgary but their performance on May 30 will be the biggest yet and they have a lot to offer that will be new to followers of the band and incredibly fun for newcomers. Some of these additions include the material they’ve been developing for their upcoming album the addition of Calgary double bassist Keith Rodger and a collaboration with Welcome to the West which will be providing visuals.

Over their seven-year career they’ve spent the equivalent of two years touring North America with excursions to Germany Austria France Italy and Spain. While these travels heavily influenced the sound of the band a few years ago guitarist and vocalist Kurt Loewen says that a turnover of members has brought in fresh ideas.

“All of our experiences were collective and as a result the biggest influence in our lives was this band in the context of the road” he says adding that new members are more inspired by the moment bringing “a lot of from-the-hip style melody which is new and really fun.”

While they’re not reinventing themselves they have been growing and developing their sound since the release of their 2012 album Follow My Lead Lead Me to Follow . Not long before the release of that album fiddle player Patrick M’Gonigle left the group and Mack Shields jumped in to fill his shoes. They’ve also introduced an Indian schruti box (a droning instrument similar to a harmonium) which will make a couple appearances. Loewen describes the instrument as “a transforming experience to sing along with” but you’ll have to wait for the new album to hear the result.

Their songwriting has also matured. “Not every instrument appears on every song” he says. “We were very thorough in our selection of how ideas/parts were added or taken away from any given song and I think as a result the album has a very mature feel. Really deliberate.”

Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra has been working on a new album which involved a couple of two-week recording stints on Quadra Island. “It’s going to be a combination of very lyrical gentle and full arrangements mixed with a sort of Twin Peaks -inspired prom vibe” says Loewen. “There are keys all over it electric guitar really big string arrangements and a traditional kit that is on some of our earlier work but not in the same quantity.”

The album won’t be available in time for this tour but we should be seeing it sometime in 2015.

This promises to be an extraordinary show filling Festival Hall with energy in audio and visual alike. As always the music will be a diverse mix of influences from rags to bluegrass brought to life with guitar double bass accordion fiddle keys percussion and more. Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra has always filled the stage with exuberance and the Calgary stop should be no exception.