Intelligent, well-written folk-influenced songs played with hell-bent, rampaging abandon… that may be why Tanglefoot was once described as “Stan Rogers meets Van Halen.” www.tanglefootmusic.com
Winners – 2007 Best Vocal Group at the CFMA
Third Annual “Best of Bound for Glory” Award
Winners of the Crossroad Music Awards 2000 Gold Star for Folk – Contemporary Band
Intelligent, well-written folk-influenced songs played with hell-bent, rampaging abandon… that may be why Tanglefoot was once described as “Stan Rogers meets Van Halen.”
Tanglefoot is a thunderous live band with a reputation for spectacular vocal harmonies. It is also a band of adept songwriters who specialize in portraying the Canadian experience. “One of Canada’s most accomplished musical mythologizers,” wrote Robert Reid of the Kitchener-Waterloo Record. And after more than twenty years of performing, this Canadian roots institution is stronger than ever with an impressive new addition on violin and viola.
Sandra Swannell made her Tanglefoot debut in January 2006. She succeeded Terry Snider, who joined in May of 2003 upon the retirement of founding fiddler Joe Grant. Guitarist Steve Ritchie has the longest tenure, having played with Tanglefoot since 1988. Toronto bass player Al Parrish has been around since 1994. Terry Young joined in 1999, bringing with him a gaggle of instruments including mandolin, guitar, tenor and five-sting banjo, harmonica and whistle. Piano player Bryan Weirmier replaced Tanglefoot’s original keyboardist, Rob Ritchie, in the summer of 2002.
Released in the fall of 2006, Dance Like Flames is Tanglefoot’s first studio album since 2002. It’s the first Tanglefoot CD to contain songs by all of the current band members. It also includes a first for Tanglefoot, a female voice.
Of existing recordings, the definitive album is the CD Captured Alive. A swan song for founder and fiddler Joe Grant, it was recorded live over three nights at Toronto’s Flying Cloud Folk Club in May of 2003 and released later that year. A companion DVD of the live recording, entitled Way More Live, was released the following year. Agnes On The Cowcatcher was released in 2002 to some very favourable reviews; Greg Quill of the Toronto Star referred to Agnes as “a treasure – inventive and resonant, quaint and robust, bucolic and brainy all at once”. Before that, Full Throated Abandon (1999) won Crossroads Magazine Music Awards 1999 Gold Star for Best Album – Contemporary Folk Band.
It was during the long drive home from the 1995 Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival that the idea of turning Tanglefoot into a full-time proposition first took hold. Lunenburg had been a seminal event that year-Tanglefoot’s first real acclaim outside their home province of Ontario. The inaugural Stan Rogers Folk Festival in Canso, Nova Scotia in 1997 marked the beginning of full-time touring, and Tanglefoot has maintained a relentless schedule ever since, playing hundreds of shows across Canada, the U.S. and Britain.
Oblivious to anything but pre-formatted pop music, commercial broadcasting remains hopelessly elusive for performers like Tanglefoot. Appearances on public and community radio however are plentiful, most recently on CBC Radio’s Routes Montreal and on Radio Britfolk in the UK. Tanglefoot has also plied its trade on Radio Canada International; CBC Radio’s Madly Off in All Directions; The Midnight Special, WFMT Folkstage in Chicago; WXPN in Philadelphia; The Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour in Kentucky; WVBR’s Bound For Glory in Ithaca, NY and on BBC Radio Hull and BBC Radio York. On television Tanglefoot has appeared on CTV’s Gabereau, CITY TV, ATV Halifax, Minnesota Public Television, the BBC’s Christchurch Studios in Bristol and Radio-Canada’s Télé-Relais in Winnipeg during Festival du Voyageur.
Tanglefoot also enjoys the unusual claim-to-fame of having had one of their CDs fly aboard the space shuttle. Music In The Wood accompanied Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield into low-earth orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor in April of 2001. By sheer coincidence, Tanglefoot is also likely the only Canadian band ever to play at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia – Canadian culture for an auditorium full of NASA engineers and rocket scientists.
Lots has happened in the past year. There’s a new Canadian distribution deal in place with Koch Entertainment, and a new UK distribution agreement with Proper Records of London. Most importantly the new change in personnel means Tanglefoot – for the first time in its history – ceases to be an all-male ensemble, providing audiences with even more reason to see why the Vancouver Folk Music Bulletin says Tanglefoot is “…guaranteed to pull you out of whatever slump you’re in!”
“The five members of the Ontario band Tanglefoot write and sing big, ambitious songs that are heavily influenced by traditional folk music and by the work of Stan Rogers, the late Canadian folk icon.
Like Rogers’, most of Tanglefoot’s songs have stories to tell. Roll On Jamaica is a ballad about Lady Agnes Macdonald, the second wife of Canada’s first prime minister, and how she took in the sights of the Rocky Mountains riding out front in a crate attached to the CPR locomotive’s cowcatcher while her husband relaxed in the back in a luxury car. Miners and Mercy tells the story of a 19th century coal miner who’s seen most of his children forced to give up childhoods to work in mines or mills. The sound abounds with fiddles, guitars, banjos, accordions, keyboards and rich harmonies.” ****
The Montreal Gazette
“Ontario schoolteacher and fiddler Joe Grant formed his acoustic band Tanglefoot in the early 1980s as an earnest attempt to roll back the tide of American culture by writing and performing colourful and heartfelt traditional-sounding songs about Canadian historical events and characters. Tanglefoot has become a solid wall of musical energy, a full-throated, multi-instrumental roar of exuberance and delight in the very life Grant at one time only imagined. If you like original songs deliberately crafted to resemble True North artifacts between 50 and 150 years old, Agnes On The Cowcatcher is a treasure — inventive and resonant, quaint and robust, bucolic and brainy all at once — song as reproduction folk. The material here — among the best of a luminous set are “Feu Follet,” “Miners and Mercy,” “Roll On Jamaica/Agnes On The Cowcatcher,” and “God Had A Plan” — is intended for participatory singing, for thumping feet and clapping hands, for wistful, introspective smiles of recognition, and it constitutes by far the most polished and assertive recording Tanglefoot has made.”
The Toronto Star