Thursday, 27 July 2017 05:33

Doyle now part of The Dead South; in Swift Current Aug. 3

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The past year has been a musical rollercoaster ride for Saskatchewan banjo player Eliza Mary Doyle.


She left her teaching job in Swift Current to focus full-time on her music. Last fall she toured through western Canada to promote her new album and then played banjo with the popular Regina band The Dead South.
Since then she has become a full-time member of The Dead South while still continuing her own musical activities. She is currently on a western Canadian tour with her band, which will conclude on Aug. 3 in Swift Current with a performance at the Lyric Theatre.
She has no trouble to transition between her different roles as a member of an established bluegrass band and playing her own music with a backup band.
“When I have the opportunity to do my own show, it's really refreshing and I really like that,” she said. “I find that I have almost a renewed energy about it. ... I've got two things that complement each other.”
She was still on her own CD release tour last fall when she was asked by The Dead South to play banjo on their western Canadian tour for their latest album. The band had to find a new banjo player after Colton Crawford decided to leave the group.
“I got done middle of November and I had those three weeks off and then I resumed in December,” she recalled. “So it was really a lucky twist of fate that I had time off in-between my own shows to link up with them.”
She is used to picking up gigs and filling in as an instrumentalist in bands, but it was quite a daunting experience to get familiar with all the songs for that Dead South tour.
“Colton is an amazing banjo player and I just thought I'm in over my head,” she said. “So I had one week to prepare for all the songs. I went down to Regina and I just practised and practised, and probably put 50 to 60 hours in the one week.”
That road trip was quite an intimidating experience, because The Dead South has a large following and there was additional interest from fans because it was a release tour for their new CD.
“Their banjo player has very specific parts and their sound is very banjo driven,” she said. “All the fans know all the words of their songs. So on the first tour the audience members knew the songs way better than I did because I just started listening to them, but it was a very easy transition. I did that tour in November, and then in January they asked if I wanted to be a permanent member of the band.”
The band went on a successful 26 show tour to Europe during May and June, and she now feels comfortable in her role as a member of The Deep South.
“They're just really great guys,” she said. “They're very easy to get along with and very easy going and supportive.”
Doyle has been a member of a number of successful bands over the years, most recently the Midnight Roses, but this is the first time that she is involved with a band that has such a large fan base in Canada, the United Sates and Europe. She appreciates the opportunity and the benefits it will have for her as a musician.
“I love playing banjo and I love playing banjo to people,” she said. “So the more people I can play it for, the happier I am. ...  I've become such a better player and it's funny because certain shows I can do these solos that I never thought that I could do before. You just feed off the energy of the crowd. It's been a great opportunity and it's been a good platform for me.”
In addition to her commitment to The Deep South she will continue to perform under her own name, but it now requires a lot of careful planning.
“The hardest part about being in two different projects is finding organizing time for both of them,” she said. “So I find I just need to be more organized.”
After her current tour leading the Eliza Mary Doyle trio, she will rejoin The Dead South on their summer tour to various locations across Canada.
She is planning to record an album in October and she was hoping to work on some new songs between performances during her current tour, which started in Fort McLeod, Alberta on July 22.
She will have a number of performances in British Columbia before her final tour stop at the Lyric Theatre on Aug. 3, where the Eliza Mary Doyle trio will perform as a double feature with the alternative and indie band The Wolfe.
This all-female trio from Prince Albert was one of the top four finalists from more than 2,000 entries in the 2017 CBC Searchlight competition. The Wolfe is performing at the Lyric Theatre as part of their current Can You Hear Me summer tour across central and western Canada.
Tickets for this double performance are the Lyric Theatre are $10 per person. The doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 9 p.m.

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Matthew Liebenberg

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