• By: Anne Dion

Fiery Folk: Union Duke Lights Up the Blacksheep Inn

Matt Warry-Smith, a member of the Toronto band, Union Duke, has a tattoo on his leg of the words “Keep Music Evil” that’s visible below the cut off point of his Bermuda shorts. The audacity of the phrase, coined by Anton Newcombe, epitomizes the band’s fresh and furious take on modern folk music. Although their style is less politically rebellious than the tattoo would suggest, their sound is as for-the-people as sound comes.

Last Friday, Union Duke performed at the famously indie Blacksheep Inn in Wakefield. To set the scene, picture a line of trendy Toronto guys in floral shirts with a tambourine and a lively set of vocals. The Toronto quintet began as a trio in High School, and after some rearranging of sound and members, grew into the folk frenzy that’s now touring Canada. The tour is in support of their new album, Golden Days, which comes out this week, on August 5th.

The Blacksheep Inn, just a stone’s throw from Ottawa

Union Duke’s live show is a thing to behold. Folk fan or not, their show’s vibe and energy promises an awesome time for everyone — I dare you not to have a good time while they’re on stage. Beyond the endearing twang is a versatility that actually has the power to support a thriving, young fanbase. With songwriting that’s different every time, Union Duke’s music is an eclectic mishmash of each member’s inspirations and exaltations, and you can see the joy of the artistry in their show.

Also playing that night was another up-and-coming Toronto band, Common Deer. Their style, which they call “orchestral indie,” is fresh as hell, and their concert is nothing short of epic. Underneath their creatively alternative sound is the clarity and precision of classical training, and they had the crowd’s attention from the second they stepped on stage. Both Union Duke and Common Deer have awesome things coming our way; just as Golden Days is expected this week, Common Deer have the release of their new EP on the horizon.

Union Duke performing Friday July 29

Chatting in the upstairs greenroom, Union Duke tells me: “We really like playing at the Blacksheep. This is our second time here, and we had a great time last time. We travel all over the country, but if there’s good people and cold beers then we’re pretty much happy anywhere.” Thus far the group’s performances have been exclusive to Canada, but they’re hoping to be able to expand their horizons soon.

If you haven’t already listened to their music then you seriously need to. Both Union Duke and Common Deer have the sound and talent that inevitably finds success, and they’re more than equipped to take on a larger and louder fanbase. If you need any more convincing of how furiously fun their performance is, just take a look at how inevitably blurry every photo of them is.

Union Duke performing Friday July 29

Find out more about Union Duke by taking a look at their websiteor find them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. You can also stream Golden Days on amusicblogyea.com who are the exclusive streamers of the new album. 

Check out Common Deer on their website, and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates on their upcoming EP.