Just for the Halifax

Newgrass from beautiful Nova Scotia

By David Jasper / The Bulletin

Published Feb 21, 2014 at 12:11AM

If you go

What: The Modern Grass

Details:

• 9 p.m. Saturday; free; Blue Pine Kitchen and Bar, 25 S.W. Century Drive, Bend; 541-389-2558

• 7 p.m. Sunday, doors open 6 p.m.; $5-$10 donation; String Theory Music, 1291 N.W. Wall St, Bend; stringtheorystudios@gmail.com or 541-678-0257

When he moved from the Vancouver, B.C. area to Halifax, Nova Scotia five years ago, Tom Terrell, singer and guitarist for the band The Modern Grass, ran into a slight problem.

“The bluegrass scene ­— the roots music in general scene — on the East Coast is not that big,” Terrell told GO! Magazine.

By the way, this is Canada we’re talking about, in case you flunked geology. (Kidding! I know the right word is geometry.)

OK, back to Terrell’s bluegrass problem. Halifax had thriving Celtic and Irish music scenes, but as far as bluegrass, blues and country?

“Not really big scenes, especially with young people,” said Terrell, who, like seemingly lots of bluegrass musicians these days, initially played drums in a punk band. Punk drumming led him to jazz drumming, and jazz drumming led to jazz guitar, which led to bluegrass.

“It’s all spawned from there,” he said. “Kind of a natural progression.”

With his guitar in hand in Halifax, “I met up with most of the band pretty quick just based on bluegrass jams and being interested in similar styles of music,” Terrell said.

The Modern Grass have been nothing if not prolific in their time together, releasing five albums since forming in 2011, according to their bio. At first, the group called themselves The Modern Grass Quartet, but they dropped the “quartet” when — three guesses, Sherlock — a fifth member came aboard.

That was banjo player Dan MacCormack, who has since stepped out of the picture to focus on his family and other projects, Terrell said.

Along with Terrell, the band is Adam Pye (contra bass), Andrew Sneddon (resonator guitar) and Donald MacLennan (violin).

The Modern Grass released its new record, “City Ghosts,” on Wednesday, and Terrell promised they’ll have copies in hand at their two shows this weekend in Bend (see “If you go”). First up is a show Saturday at Blue Pine Kitchen and Bar, and second is a limited-seating, house-style show Sunday evening at String Theory Music, where earlier in the day the quartet will lead an instrument workshop. (For interested players, it’s at 1 p.m. Sunday and costs $25. Visit www .stringtheorymusicbend.com for more info.)

The two live shows “won’t be all that different,” Terrell said. “The nature of our band, and the (bar) shows that we do, make our shows dynamic. When we’re in a bar, people want to move and drink and talk, which is totally great … so we play a little more upbeat blues and bluegrass and stuff like that.

“House shows definitely tend to be a little more intimate, subtle, sometimes sad songs,” he said, chuckling. “They definitely go over well in a small, quiet venue, as opposed to a bar where people don’t necessarily want to go there all the time.”

Terrell writes the majority of songs for the band, which also does a lot of traditionals, fiddle tunes, Texas blues and some covers.

“We do covers, but we try to make them the kind of covers that no one’s ever heard of before. Fifty years old, minimum,” Terrell said. “The best is doing covers you just can’t find on the Internet. That’s kind of my favorite thing to do.”

And how does he locate these cryptic covers?

Vinyl, of course.

“I’ve been lucky enough to meet people along the way who have gifted me certain vinyl that I’ve really enjoyed,” he said. “I’ve learned the tunes and gone on the Internet to find a video or share a video and gone, ‘Oh, they’re not here. Amazing.’”

— Reporter: 541-383-0349, djasper@bendbulletin.com