Canadian trio plays folk sound

BY LAURA WILLIS | APRIL 07, 2011 7:20 AM

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mp3 sample: Elliott BROOD

"Write It All Down for You"

Whether touring the vast Midwestern countryside or breathtaking European cities, Canadian folk band Elliott BROOD has one interest at heart: antique shopping. In the past, the trio has gathered vintage guitars from the ’60s, an 8-millimeter projector, and early 1900s coloring books.

“I love that treasure-hunting idea,” said guitar, banjo, and ukulele player Casey Laforet.

From its birth in 2002, Elliott BROOD has incorporated its curious nature for the past into present-day albums. The history buffs will perform at 10 p.m. today alongside the Western Front at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Admission is $6.

While sifting through used items at a local pawnshop, Laforet discovered 31 Days in the Plains and in the Mountains, a book written in the late 1800s. He was astonished to read Capt. William Drannan’s testament about fighting Native Americans in the West. The book also described a four-day attack in southern Utah by Mormon militia on 120 people traveling from Arkansas to California. The attack, known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre, stuck with Laforet.

By coincidence, guitarist Mark Sasso had watched a documentary about the event and shared the same interest as Laforet, so they collectively decided to title the band’s second album Mountain Meadows. The 2008 release dedicated 15 songs to the event. Two songs, “Fingers and Tongues” and “31 Years,” present literal translations of the event, while the rest of the album illustrates emotions and ideas surrounding the attack.

“Most songs have to do with the theme of what happened there,” Laforet said. “It’s about the struggle of being out there and finding your fate.”

Songs about the past mixed with banjos and ukuleles give a country vibe to Elliott BROOD’s sound. While the lyrics were meant to portray the past, the folk instruments happened by accident.

“Nothing that has happened to us happened to us on purpose,” Laforet said.

In fact, before the band formed, the members preferred listening to Dinosaur Jr. and Motown. But the limited number of instruments naturally made them sound like a folk band. Laforet and Sasso played around Canada as a duo and met drummer Stephen Pitkin for the 2004 EP Tin Type.

As a trio, Elliott BROOD tours internationally, gaining reputation for an energetic live show. Pitkin will often include various nontraditional objects in his drum set, such as a suitcase as a kick drum and a peanut-butter jar tapping loudly against the floor, and sometimes, he simply stomps his feet.

The group often brings other diverse instruments for audience members to pick up and join in the performance.

“The live show is our bread and butter,” Laforet said. “It becomes this giant smashing noise party.”

Elliott BROOD encourages fans to actively participate at performances and to develop their own interpretations of songs based on historical events.

“We’re not trying to tell the story,” Laforet said. “It’s already been told.”

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