From the dusty trails of southern Saskatchewan come one of the sleekest machines you’ll have heard in awhile – full-throttle but ready to shift gears on the drop of a cowboy hat. With driving, infectious hillbilly jive catching on first around their hometown of Regina, before long in the early ’00s The Dead South was one of the hottest acts around.
The acoustic ensemble relies on catchy hooks with a clever show and fronted by Nate Hilts’ gritty vocals, they’re rounded out with Scott Pringle’s mandolin chops, Colton Crawford tearing up the banjo and kick drum, and somehow Danny Kenyon decided his cello would make a good bass. He was right, and together they’ve earned the monikor of one of the hardest working acts around, blending folk, bluegrass, roots, and even a little classical into an authentic blend of toe tapping, boot-stomping fun.
Their debut EP, THE OCEAN WENT MAD was on the shelves by the summer of 2003. Fuelled with attitude in numbers like “Honey You” and “Bastard Son” (where you learn your cousin’s in need of sweet lovin’ too), they hit the road and earned themselves a reputation for the on-show full of energy and zest. Videos of some of their hottest tunes were shot at a brewery and a tattoo shop in Regina, raising their profile as they proved videos don’t have to be expensive and flashy – not when the music is solid and carries them around with ease.
On the success of the 2005 follow-up, GOOD COMPANY, the loyal fanbase continued to grow. The title track, “The Recap,” and “Banjo Odyssey” are bluegrass on steroids. Add “In The Valley,” “Ballad For Janoski,” and “Travellin’ Man” featuring Crawford’s on lead) and you have one of the critics’ favourite albums of the year. Some more videos were shot, and the album caught the attention of German label Devil Duck Records, who quickly released the album overseas. This led to another plane ride for the band, where they again spread their boot-stomping message to the German masses.
2017 came around and it was time for another record, and the result was ILLUSION & DOUBT. The video for the lead-off “These Boots” was shot a year earlier while they were taking a break from the Sniester Music Festival in the Hague. A live studio appearance on that same trip also made a nice backdrop for shooting the video for “Smoochin’ In The Dirt.”
They’ve competed (and usually won) a number of Battle of the Bands competitions over the years, and have opened for Serena Ryder, and played Premier Brad Wall’s official dinner. Their festival appearances include everything from the Regina Folk Festival, Juno Fest back to back years in ’13 and ’14, headlining the Dogpatch Music Festival in ’15 and ’16, the 2013 Grey Cup Festival, and the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, Germany, among others.