Move your feet with The Tappalachians

Local favourites bring old-time string music for a present-day dance party at Revelstoke Summer Street Festival

By Emily Kemp, Special to the Review

A medley of international citizens comprise the local Tappalachian String Band. Two Canadians, a Scot, a Kiwi and an American make-up this high-energy group with Revelstoke Coffeehouse mastermind Denis Severino on banjo, his partner Myra Morrison on fiddle, James Clark on mandolin, Robbie Milne on guitar and Joan Robertson on the upright bass.

The band plays Appalachian old-time string music with a smattering of modern singer-songwriter numbers. It’s a fusion of instruments and musical styles from immigrants of Europe and the United Kingdom. African slaves also contributed the banjo and the African influence is heard in the syncopated rhythmic groove.

The band gave the Review an insight into their biggest fans and why bourbon helps their playing.

How do you summarize your style?

This music is traditionally dance music and nothing makes us happier than seeing kids, adults, and dogs of all ages tapping a toe, paw, or jumping up to dance. We particularly enjoy the street fest gig because we frequently get to experience kids and dogs moshing in front of the gazebo.

What are your group dynamics?

We hail from all over the map but we all find ourselves feeling most home when we’re sitting on Joan’s porch in Sunnybrae (north of Salmon Arm) playing tunes and drinking copious cups of red rose tea. It was the music that brought us together but what ensued was a band of misfits that turned into family.

What is exciting with the band lately?

Playing at The Taco Club on Mondays has been awesome because we do it without a PA system, people seem to dig it, and the tacos are yummy.

Any big performances that you’re proud of?

We had a rousing Revelstoke farmers market busking session that many toddlers took notice of last week.

What hobbies recharge and inspire your music?

Most of us choose drinking as our main priority after music, and when we’re on the bourbon, eventually we can’t even tell that we’re out of tune, which helps with our general angst about how we sound.

What is your most valued material possession?

Our instruments! They’re the first things to grab in a fire. They would be the hardest pieces to replace.

What particular song never fails to move you emotionally?

Wagon Wheel really twists the knife.

Who would you be nervous to meet and why?

The SteelDrivers (band based in Nashville) because they do what we do, just better.

How can people find you online?

The closest you’ll come is The Revelstoke Coffee House Facebook group page or Myrtle & The Nocturnal’s Facebook page.

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The Tappalachian String Band plays at the Summer Street Festival in Grizzly Plaza this Friday June 30 from 6:30–9:30 p.m.