On June 1 and 2 musical duo, The Great Plains are set to perform two shows in the Elk Valley. On June 1, they play at the Sparwood Seniors Drop-in Centre before playing at Fernie’s Knox United Church the following evening.
Saskia Delaronde and her partner Darrel comprise the B.C.-based folk group, and say the name of the band is relatively new.
“Saskia and Darrel, The Great Plains – that is how we are known. We just got a new name. We had a contest on Facebook and The Great Plains won. People are not really used to the name yet,” she said.
Despite what the name may suggest, the duo is originally from Revelstoke and now live on Vancouver Island, although Saskia points out, the two are rarely at home.
“We are not here often; we own a little condo and a bicycle but we do 130-140 dates per year,” she said. “It is a busy schedule but we do not have anything to worry about. We do not have any other responsibilities other than doing that so we do it with gusto.”
Saskia defines their style of music as Canadiana, combining the traditional Americana sound with lyrics of Canadian tales.
“I’d say it is a very Canadian sound. We sing songs about Canadians and Canadian areas. We have songs about B.C. and songs about the Prairies, but it definitely has a folk flavour. Within that I’d say it has some Celtic-bluegrass touches but it is very melodic,” she said.
The duo has been performing for 15 years together. Creating and playing music together is not how they originally started. They are the last ones standing after their two bands slowly moved away from the music industry.
“I had an all female four piece folk band and Darrel had an all male five-piece country-rock band many, many years ago. You know how bands are, they come and go and fall apart, girls get pregnant and guys go off and log or whatever,” she said. “So I joined Darrel’s band to do harmonies and rhythm guitar when my band was on time out. Eventually the girls and guys strayed away and Darrel and I were the only ones left standing and we were both crazy and passionate enough to continue what we were doing.”
Over the decade and a half, The Great Plains has had the opportunity to play in Europe. Playing venues in Amsterdam, Switzerland, Hamburg and “every little place and festival in between”. When asked about the crowd difference between North America and Europe, Saskia said that they’re “not a whole lot different, an audience is an audience. Once you get their attention they will be loyal and kind. We have been going there, back and forth for a while and we are getting a lot of the same people coming back to those European shows. They sit just as politely and they clap and sing along just like Canadians. They are a little more verbal I’d say.”
Just before The Great Plains began, Saskia played at The Fernie Arts Station with her band, Mosaic. Since then, the duo has played in many communities around Fernie but is looking forward to playing their first show together here.
“I remember the people were really sweet. I love small towns and mountain communities. They are always really close knit, kind, and open-hearted. It was so nice to be so welcomed when I was there and we are looking forward to that again,” she said.
The Great Plains will take the stage at 7 p.m. for both of their shows in the Elk Valley. Advance tickets are on sale for Fernie performance. They are available for $12 at the Fernie Museum and will be $15 at the door.