The influence of Newfoundland and Labrador music stretches much further than our little province. For this article, I have decided to spotlight a group that resides outside of the island. Though you may be familiar with them.
Derina Harvey Band is a Celtic-rock group based out of Edmonton, Alberta. However, Four out of Five of their members are originally from Newfoundland and Labrador. They play a spicy brand of Celtic music comparable to that of Navigators and The Irish Descendents. The band had recently played at this year’s George Street Festival. I am happy to say that I had a chance to do an interview with the powerful frontwoman, Derina Harvey, where she talks about her Newfoundland and Labrador roots and her new music.
Read the interview with Derina Harvey below.
Q: I understand that the members of Derina Harvey Band have roots in Newfoundland and Labrador. Are all of the members from Newfoundland? Which parts of the island are you from?
A: Well 80% of the band is from Newfoundland and Labrador…
Derina Harvey (lead vocals, acoustic guitar) is from way up north in Wabush Labrador; Steve Pinsent (drums) Is from the west coast (Deer Lake). Two members are from the Placentia area —Scott Greene (electric guitar, vocals) is from Point Verd; Edward Smith (bass, vocals) is from Dunville. And making us “Maritime” we have Jessica Blenis (fiddle, vocals) from Upham, New Brunswick!
Q: Your brand of Celtic rock seems very much inspired by Newfoundland, expressed through references to the island and covers of songs by Newfoundland artists. How do the crowds in Alberta react to the Newfoundland-inspired songs?
A: It has been our experience that people from all over enjoy traditional songs from Newfoundland and Labrador and The Maritimes. Celtic classics and traditional favourites have ballads that are full of truth and emotion. The upbeat, foolish stories are fun to sing along with or dance to! Something for everybody young and old! It seems that people out west can relate to the songs of hard work and/or good parties! We have lots of full dancefloors and sold out theatres–Not only us, but many East Coast acts that come West entertain full rooms of Albertans.
I must say that we are very grateful for the support we have received. In fact, we just had the honour of being awarded the “People’s Choice” for the 2018 Edmonton Music Awards! This was an award based on online votes, and we know that these votes came from Coast to Coast. We are so appreciative to all who voted!
Q: Do you meet many Newfoundlanders at your Western shows?
A: Yes, we do have a following of fine folk from “home” out in Alberta! It is our highest compliment to have an East Coaster tell us that we have “brought them home for a bit” with our music. There is often a chat that ends with some band members realizing that they have a friend or relative in common with someone in the audience! We are always making new friends and running into pals from home!
Q: You have just recently played at the George Street Festival in St. John’s. Is there much of a difference in the audience in Newfoundland compared to the Audiences elsewhere?
A: Well I guess the biggest difference is that we likely have more family members in the audience when we perform in Newfoundland and Labrador. But, essentially the crowds are very much the same. People come out for a good time and we try our very best to entertain them! To take them away from whatever daily troubles they might have, or to help them celebrate three minutes at a time!
Q: Your new track, “Up All Night,” sounds a little country influenced. Is this intentional? Would you consider this a broadening of your musical style?
A: “Up All Night” has a bit of a popular-meets-folk sound! The idea for us whether we are revamping a traditional tune or creating an original, is always “what is best for the song?” If that means a song has a country feel, or a blues-inspired solo (and we as a group feel it fits), then that’s what we go with. We all come from different musical backgrounds (Country, Rock, Blues and Bluegrass, Choral, Classical, Celtic, Traditional Newfoundland and Labrador, Alternative, Jazz and Metal – we love it all) and we have performed and studied other genres while working on different projects over the years. We may give nods to these genres in our Derina Harvey Band repertoire because it just feels right. We have always liked to use our musical tickle trunk, but a lot of consideration goes into how we use its contents.
Listen to “Up All Night,” the latest single by Derina Harvey Band below:
Q: Are there any other notable artists that inspired you on your latest album?
A: Well, I sure love to tell stories, and some of my favourite stories told through music come from Canadian icons such as Stan Rogers, Ron Hynes, and Gordon Downie–just to name a few. They have a way of bringing you into the moment with them and that is something I strive to achieve. I have a long way to go, however, the support from my family (also songwriters) and band members makes the creative songwriting work environment and processes positive and fun!
Q: What else can we expect from Derina Harvey Band in terms of new music?
A: We are still writing for the new album (as yet unnamed), however, we have a lineup of singles to release in the meantime. Our original “Up All Night” was the first single, and we are thrilled about how this party song and video are being received. The album will have a blend of Folk, Celtic and Country feel with our usual Rock undertone. Next to release is an original ballad that is a tribute to the caregivers and parents who give us so much, and the lessons we learn from them. It’s called “The Fallen Man’s Daughter” and we just recently wrapped our video shooting sessions! We can’t wait to share it when it’s all finished up, so keep your eye out for that in the Fall of 2018.
Q: Now a more personal question. Have you taken any singing and/or music lessons?
A: I have never taken proper singing lessons, though I feel as if I should in order to protect the health of my voice as I do want to keep singing for a long time! That being said, I did sing with choirs for about 15 years — travelling around Ontario and Quebec taking courses and then giving music weekend workshops around Labrador. I started music lessons when I was around five years old. Piano lessons first, then when I was about nine years old, I received my very own acoustic guitar from my parents (this way I would stop playing my dad’s or my sister’s — so I could play along with them). My sister taught me how to play the guitar and a few lessons on bass and there were plenty of instruments in the house to dabble with. After I graduated from high school, I attended the College of the North Atlantic Music Industry and Performance Program, and there my ambitions and abilities were taken to the next level. This is also where I met my best friends and a couple bandmates. We graduated with our diplomas in 2000!
Don’t forget to follow them on social media
Some upcoming performances include:
Showcases at Western Arts Alliance in Las Vegas, NV Aug 28th
British Columbia Tour, September 14th-21st
Showcase at South Arts Conference in Orlando, FL Oct 3rd