Band prepares for ‘Is it Spring Yet?’ tour
There will be a different look and sound to The Sharecroppers on its spring tour this year.
The Sharecroppers (from left) Guy Romaine, Ed Humber and Robert Humber, will tour the province starting this week. — Photo courtesy of Joe Brazil
Both the new look and sound come courtesy of Robert Humber.
The 18-year-old first-year music student at Memorial University will be the third member of the group on its “Is it Spring Yet?” tour that begins Tuesday in Lark Harbour. He is not a replacement for Mike Madigan, who along with Ed Humber and Guy Romaine has comprised of the band for the past 26 years, but he certainly brings a lot to the group as a fill-in while Madigan is away.
Ed Humber’s son brings an obvious youthful appearance under that salt-and-pepper hat his bandmates are known for wearing. However, it is the young Humber’s lust for music that has Romaine raving about the new addition.
“Being younger and taking on this, he brings an enthusiasm and enjoyment all over again,” Romaine said Saturday from the Humber home where they were about to embark on another marathon rehearsal. “When you love music, you can sense it in somebody else.”
It’s much more than that though. Robert’s musical ability is described by his bandmates as a natural talent — his father recalling his son’s early days of picking up the mandolin and playing beautifully, even before they knew he could play it.
“He doesn’t just play it. He feels it,” Ed Humber said of his son’s musical ability. “He really does a good job of adding an element of bringing that filler music between lines that sounds so nice.”
Humber said it is special to be taking his son on tour to play the music he has heard them playing growing up.
For Robert, this day was pretty much expected, he said. Playing the mandolin in The Sharecroppers was his “probable fate” in his high school year book. However, it is no joke to him, and he is taking it very seriously. Joining a group with 26 years of stage experience, he is hoping he can fill in admirably for Madigan.
“It’s pretty good exposure,” he said of the opportunity. “It’s a pretty jam, too. We jam hard.”
As a young musician, he enjoys playing folk music, but admits to being a fan of rock as a listener. Like many music students, his taste in music varies right through to classical as well.
He got back in Pasadena after clewing up his first year of university studies, but the hard work has continued as he must learn exactly what is needed of him to play some of the music he has heard all his life.
“I am looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s a bit nerve-racking, just because Ed and Guy have been in the band for 26 years and I am coming in trying to learn everything in a week.”
Robert also plays the bouzouki, keyboard, whistle, and accordion — whatever is needed to help instrumentally.
As for that salt-and-pepper hat? Robert doesn’t plan to be wearing one of those signature pieces throughout the tour.
“Not if I can do anything about it,” he said with a laugh. “Well, maybe for a laugh. Maybe at the Pasadena show, just for fun.”