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Love of country makes for unique Union

Vancouver bluegrass band Washboard Union will be at the Burnaby Blues and Rots Festival this Saturday.

Vancouver bluegrass band Washboard Union will be at the Burnaby Blues and Rots Festival this Saturday. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

Described as 'Outlaw Bluegrass,' Vancouver's Washboard Union is a seven-piece folk outfit playing Saturday at the 13th annual Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival at Deer Lake Park. Joe Leary spent 24 Seconds with singer/banjo player Chris "Dunner" Duncombe.

24: You're known as a CFOX rock guy. Did you always harbour affection for bluegrass/country and folk songs?

CD: I have just always been a massive fan of music. I grew up on Hank Williams, Sons of the Pioneers, Merle Haggard, Ralph Stanley, Cash, Waylon and Willie because of my dad playing them constantly and singing along at the top of his lungs to old tapes he had.

24: How did Washboard Union come together as a band?

CD: We have been playing together for the last six or seven years and started when we realized we had a love of storytellers and storyteller songs. All seven of us come at the music we play from very different backgrounds, which is what makes this band so unique and keeps it interesting.

24: Was it always just intended to be a side project done for laughs and a few beers, or was there a much grander plan at the outset?

CD: Anyone who starts out with a grandiose plan is coming at it all wrong. Play music because you need to play music; because you have something to say, not because you want to be famous. We're doing what we love, writing and playing the music we want to play on our terms and are thrilled that people come to see us play and want to hear the album.

24: Is the album all original material or do you pay homage by covering any artists?

CD: It's all original with one legendary 1947 cover from Alton Delmore called Midnight Train, which we played for the surviving Delmore family who own the song. They loved it and gave us their blessing to put it on the album and even invited us down south to play at the Delmore Days Festival. The album was produced by Gggarth Richardson, with the song Half Cree produced by Bob Ezrin.

24: What's something you've learned from performing music that you didn't know from either playing it as a DJ or programming it on the radio?

CD: The greatest and most successful musicians have not played music because it was a great hobby, they did so because they had to, because they needed to say something or make people feel something and they never let 'No' be a roadblock. Thank God they didn't let it stop them or the world might have missed out on some of the most important songs ever written.