Cooped up in a Toyota 4Runner SUV with a stockpile of instruments, The Raven & The Fox burned some rubber east on Highway 1 through the Rockies and towards Canmore.
The folk duo and couple – Sean Isaac and Julie Chang – had called it a wrap on the British Columbia leg of their debut album release tour for the self-entitled The Raven & The Fox and the wild rose province was up next in their B.C.-Alberta exclusive tour.
The album thus far has been a sparkling success – much bigger than what Canmore’s Isaac and Chang would have thought following their sold out release party this past June.
The Raven & The Fox album reached number four nationally on the folk chart and blasted into top spot in Kamloops, B.C.
“We had no expectations and it’s kind of surprising,” said Isaac. “It’s a good, full sounding album.”
The achievement means more eyes and ears on the product through media as well as in the lively pubs, cafes and musical halls they’ve been performing in along the tour.
But an urgency to drive over 870 kilometres from Vancouver to Canmore in one shot wasn’t about making it to their next gig in the little mountain town – which is this Saturday (Nov. 4) at 7:30 p.m. at artsPlace.
It was a different kind of musical performance the road warriors sought … per say.
The pair, along with bassist Kyle Pullan, hit the road on the West Coast under the cover of darkness and, luckily for them, the weather was good, said Isaac.
“Julie took a week off from her piano lessons and she didn’t want to miss another Monday for lessons,” he said. “We finished our show in Vancouver, packed up, grabbed coffees and started driving, until 11 in the morning.”
They made it back to Canmore with time to spare and time to rest ahead of the Alberta leg of their tour.
It’s been the longest tour of their careers starting at the end of September – 20 dates in total over a month and a half and with a hefty 13 dates fit snugly into the first month.
“I think more than anything, it was getting used to playing so much,” said Isaac. “The last section was nine shows in 10 days … we’re kind of new to playing so much and we played these songs a lot.”
The original 10-track debut album, produced by Geoff Hilhorst and mixed by Jesse Sanderson, includes the songs “Follow Me” and “Fly Away” and is mostly inspired by love and landscapes.
When it comes to the song “When Stars Align,” the motivation behind it was when sending hand-written letters was a reality for Isaac and Chang when she lived in Toronto.
The two first met at a jam session in Canmore while Chang visited her sister, and things sprouted from there. The two maintained a long-distance relationship and the letters were personal touches by way of an ageless way of communicating with each other.
The letters were filled with double innuendo lyrics.
“We become dialed in together,” said Isaac.
At the artsPlace show, which is part of the Mountain FM concert series, it will be a rare occurrence as the entire six-piece band performs – Chang (vocals), Isaac (guitar), Pullan (bass), Candice Chang (backup vocals), Kitty Thompson (cello), and Matt Mueller (drums).
Tickets are $22.50 for the general public and $19 for members.
“A lot of people wanted to come out and now here’s a chance to check us with a full band and in a great theatre venue – there is great sound in there,” said Isaac. “We’ll be playing the new album, 10 original songs, and a couple of our favourite covers.”
The Raven & The Fox will also perform in other Bow Valley shows this month. On Nov. 14, the duo take the stage at Melissa’s Missteak in Banff and on Nov. 18, they venture inside a mountain cave and perform in front an intimate crowd at Rat’s Nest Cave near Canmore.
“Artists and people are attracted to the mountains – for musicians artists, and athletes, it’s an inspiring place to be,” said Isaac.