• By: Katie Hartai

An Old Guitar and an Ottawa Bar

Union Duke’s soaring vocal harmonies and throbbing beats have enlivened hearts and dance floors across the nation. The quintet is sure to have Ottawa concertgoers heel-stomping and hip-swaying with their performance at the Black Sheep Inn on July 31.

Balancing a mixture of soulful indie rock, bluegrass and country, the band has hit the road once again on a tour of Eastern Canada. With hundreds of concerts under their belt, the band’s near-constant touring and energetic shows have made them crowd favourites.

Union Duke 2“When we play live we really just try to get people moving around and dancing,” says band singer and guitarist Ethan Smith. “We joke around and smile on stage the whole time and I think the audience really feeds off that.”

Union Duke consists of Matt Warry-Smith (percussion, ukulele and vocals), Ethan Smith (acoustic guitar and vocals) and Jim McDonald (banjo and vocals) from Toronto, along with Will Staunton (bass, kick drum and vocals) from Port Hope and Rob McLaren (electric guitar, fiddle and vocals) from Red Deer.

“The chemistry in the band is awesome,” Smith explains. “It is way easier to go on tour when you genuinely like each other and you care about the other person’s comfort.”

Warry-Smith, Smith and McDonald began playing music together in various bands as young teenagers. Staunton and McLaren later joined the group when Union Duke became more serious. Together they have released two full albums: Bandits & Bridges in 2013 along with Cash & Carry last June. While touring this summer, the band is working on new material.

For more information on Union Duke, visit their website.