Can You Say Stoked?

A couple of years ago, I happened upon a Tumblr created by an anonymous music writer called “Why I deleted your band’s promo.” As a music writer, I read it with a chuckle. So many bands are the “most unique thing you’ve ever heard!!!!” I know that defining music with words is difficult, but I also know that music writers can be a disillusioned bunch, mostly because they are inundated with more poorly rendered music than there has been cold this winter. Music writers simply don’t have the time to give a good, honest listen to all of the music that comes in, so, perhaps unfairly, a band’s promo can be even more important than the music itself for newer acts.

Back to the Tumbler, though, I got a jolt when the quoted – and therefore deleted – promo was “stoke folk.” Because we, in Fernie, know that stoke folk can only mean one thing: our homegrown and rowdy live act, Shred Kelly. And we love them. We share them on Facebook and populate their shows because we know that we’re in for a sweaty good time.

At the end of my interview with vocalist and keyboardist Sage McBride, we commiserate on how hard it is to define a band’s music. Shred Kelly – is it folk? Is it indie? Many bands don’t fit neatly into any one genre these days. The five members of Shred Kelly all have varying musical tastes and come to the jam space with different influences – which is likely the secret to their appeal, which crosses genres and generations. Currently working on their fourth album – due out late 2017 or early 2018 – Shred Kelly has a pretty easy recipe for writing and releasing songs.

“We know that if five of us with very different musical tastes are all into this, then it’s a for sure,” McBride explains. “Whereas there might be some songs where three of us are, like, I really dig it and two people are meh, it’s okay, then that’s not our best and it’s an if.”

For album number four, Shred Kelly (rounded out by Tim Newton, Ian Page Shiner, Jordan Vlasschart and Ty West) is working with producer Howard Redekopp (Mother Mother, Tegan and Sara, Said The Whale) and it’s an opportunity they are enjoying. And McBride, passionate about singing, is excited to be working with a producer known for really working the vocals.

“You just kind of do what you do,” she says, “So it’ll be really neat to work with someone who’ll say, I think you can do better, or can you try to this instead.”

Another unexpected thing I came across from cynical music writers was their surprise about, “banjo and synth? That should not work! But somehow it does!” We, in Fernie, all be saying, “duh!”

“I guess for us, we did it, and we just kept on doing it,” McBride says. “I guess with the synth, it gives it more of that energy, with the live thing that we have going for us. So I guess when people hear a recording and they haven’t seen us perform live, they’re like, what?! Why did that work together? Whereas if you’ve seen us live, you’re like, that totally makes sense. You see how it all goes together.”

Shred Kelly is part of a stellar lineup of acts set to play the community centre for the annual Fernie Stoke Fest, hosted by Fernie Trails Alliance. It’s bigger and better this year, with two nights and an early evening all-ages show. Local act Red Girl, Edmonton’s the Wet Secrets and Vancouver’s Delhi 2 Dublin will have you dancing on Friday night. Shred Kelly and Fred Penner will delight families early Saturday evening. Saturday night will feature Penner and Shred Kelly, as well as Topo and Moontricks. Let’s show those crotchety music writers how we do in Fernie – shred all day and stoke folk all night.

Fernie Stoke Fest is at the Fernie Community Centre Friday and Saturday, February 17 and 18. For more info on times and tickets, visit