On a beautiful June evening, audience members arrived to a sight one can only behold at Serenity. In the horse pasture to the side of the main stage, the young artists who make up Good For Grapes huddled together to warm up their voices with notes so melodic the tall grass surrounding them seemed to move in time.
Once on stage, the music produced by this six piece group was enough to send most jaws to the floor. It wasn’t the pure fact that they had formed out of high school a handful of years before that caused a stir, it was the energy, intent, and passion in their performance that was incredibly awe inspiring. These were undeniably talented musicians who knew they had something particularly special to share, and we were the benefactors of their gifts.
With the sheer number of them in the band alone, there is always something or someone to look at. With so many bands nowadays who all seem to look the same (i.e. four guys with beards), the distinct style of each member of the band creates some real visual interest. If you look at them as individuals, it doesn’t seem to make sense for them to be performing together, but somehow it really works. From their exceptionally tall accordion player Sean MacKeigan who leaps with ninja-like acrobatics from one end of the stage to the other, to their stocky bass player Robert Hardie who performs with an ease and comfort as if he’s playing in his own bedroom, these artists capture your attention and hold onto it.
The band’s front man is singer and guitarist Daniel McBurnie. Daniel is the band’s leader in more ways than one. He writes all of the songs, and is responsible for the business decisions surrounding the band. Daniel’s songwriting style reflects his experiences as a coming of age youth, however, his maturity shines through more often than not, showcasing wisdom beyond his years. He is brave and intelligent enough not to shy away from social and political commentary, as is evident in their newly released single “Renminbi Tips”, yet, he also has the vulnerability to write about being a young man in a older man’s world as is referenced in “Worthier Man”, as well as more obvious topics typically reflected in a young man’s heart, such as his feelings for girls (“London Fog” for starters).
Rounding out the six are lead guitarist Graham Gomez, whose talent and emotive presence binds their distinct sound and performance together into a caliber high enough to warrant any stage or air play; Blair Hansen, the oldest (at 23) and most recent addition has found his niche as the good looking and well seasoned drummer after playing in a variety of bands since he was old enough to be home alone; and accomplished pianist Alexa Unwin, the only female whose rainbow hair flipping and charismatic smile lends itself nicely to their successful gender balance trend, which was not at all strategic, as she, like the rest of the original five, started out as best friends who just happened to play music.
This is what I find most intriguing about this folk rock ensemble, they formed almost by accident. There was no grand scheme in place, or dream they conjured up at their high school lunch table. They were just a bunch of friends, who through a series of circumstances and practicing their instruments together, created a sound that is on par with any of the top folk rock music on radio today. Comparisons to Mumford & Sons are commonly referenced for the odd song like “Oh Dear”, however, they have created enough of their own style to set them apart.
Although they may have formed by chance with no expectations, three years later, that is definitely not the case. With a song anthology that rivals many bands decades in the making, Good For Grapes has matured into a focused, determined group of credible recording artists whose live shows will be coveted by a multiplying fan base for years to come.
Good For Grapes performed at Serenity Performing Arts Centre on June 16, 2013.
They are a top 20 artist in BC’s 2013 Peak Performance Project.
Their debut full length album entitled “Man on the Page” was released on iTunes on October 15, 2013.
Visit their facebook page to find out about upcoming shows and tour dates. http://www.facebook.com/goodforgrapes