Every hobby band wants to get to the point where bar owners are calling them. But with fewer venues hosting live gigs, it's an extremely competitive field. Although the highly sought-after Acoustiholics have never put out an album, their popularity has soared and they've become poster boys for longevity.
This month, the trio celebrates their 20th anniversary. As part of the celebrations, they are the featured bill at the annual Alexander Keith Lobster Fest at the Crown & Tower Pub tonight at 7 p.m.
Lead singer Fintan Murphy reflects on the Acoustiholics longevity by saying, "Musically we complement each other. We spent our early years on harmonies. We didn't have a lush band, so we do a lot with harmonies. We had to learn to listen to each other.”
"It paid off because the harmony vocals appeal to audiences. We're gentle. We're not boom-boom-boom machines. And the variety of song selection is appealing,” says Murphy, adding their 400 song repertoire covers roots, folk rock, blues, country and Celtic.
Rounding out the trio is Vince Anderson (12-string guitar/harmonica/accordion) and Rik Dmytryshyn (vocals/guitar/mandolin).
Originally Murphy and Anderson formed a duo performing easy listening rock tunes from a box of sheet music a friend had given them. Dmytryshyn was their soundman. "At a Halloween party, he did a song with us – Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi. It went over really well and he joined us as a trio.”
While Dmytryshyn brings a rocker edge to the band with his full-throttle guitar solos, Murphy, a member of the Columbian Boys Choir for five years, softens the sound with his sweet Celtic vocals.
And Anderson, a classically trained pianist, punctuates with his Royal Conservatory of Music technique. "He has perfect pitch and can transpose a song on the spot. He can jam to the radio and by listening to a song, he knows what key it's in.”
This evening's performance at the lobster fest will be a revival of Celtic and East Coast pub songs – tunes such as The Night That Paddy Murphy Died, Whiskey You're the Devil, Saltwater Joys and Stan Rogers' Barrett's Privateers.
No strangers to the Crown & Tower Pub, the Acoustiholics play there up to three times a year. "It has a relaxed neighbourhood feel. It's a place where you can get a good meal and a pint. And that's the appeal for us.”