Don’t expect The Breakmen, those affable young heroes of Canadian roots music, to dish up something ordinary when they hit the mainstage on Saturday; rather, sit back and wait for your sizzling-fresh helping of roots soup. Sure, sharp and genuine traditional songwriting is front and centre, but old-school rock’n’roll, gutsy vintage country and soul-searching folk are all fighting hard for pole position. The Breakmen’s bare, brave lyrics, creative instrumental layering and delightfully contagious stage energy combine with high lonesome harmonies as tight as a clenched fist to coalesce into a sound both richly traditional and dazzlingly new.
The band call their take on the wide-ranging Americana genre ‘Canadiana,’ and they have the talent and the verve to back up their claim. They are multi-instrumental virtuosos, swapping back and forth on banjo, upright bass, handmade Telecaster-style electric guitars (guitarist and vocalist Lee Watson is a guitar maker), Hammond organ, mandolin, harmonica and percussion. Bringing a newfound maturity to the high-energy stage shows they’ve become known for over their seven-plus-year career, The Breakmen pay respect to the nation they love, the open road, the landscape, vanishing ways of life, and most of all the human heart.