Go tell it on the mountain

Karla Hayward
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Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival

Vancouver-based Dyad, (from left) Shiho Mizumoto, Leah Abramson and Kori Miyanishi are scheduled to take the Folk festival stage Saturday night. Submitted photo

Mountain music. Appalachian influence. Old Time. Thinking myth-worthy moonshine, grizzly bearded men panning for gold and banjos? Youre right sorta.

This unusual music is also the modern-day obsession of Kori Miyanishi, a Winnipeg-born, ex-punk rocker.

He tries to describe the sound of the music: The closest reference people have may be bluegrass. Its the music that influenced and was the precursor to bluegrass. Its got a mix of influences from African music to Native American, plus the Scots-Irish-Anglo side of it. Its a rawer style of music. Its a music that Miyanishi says is of the listening rather than the dancing or singing along variety.

Miyanishi is frontman to a small Vancouver-based band, Dyad, wholl appear at the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival beginning this weekend.

He explains that he became interested in the obscure sub-genre kind of by accident. I started to get into folk music when I met some friends who were hard core into it. Those friends eventually took him to the Winnipeg Folk Festival where, I saw real Old Time musicians for the first time and that kind of clinched the deal for me.

Miyanishi moved to Vancouver in 1995, where he met Shiho Mizumoto at a jam session. A classically trained violinist who had played punk rock and death metal in Japan before immigrating to Canada, Mizumoto had also grown interested in Old Time. With Stephanie Custer, they released their debut CD Whos Been Here Since Ive Been Gone, in 2002. In 2004, Leah Abramson replaced Custer on vocals and guitar. Today, Dyads the very definition of multi-cultural kind of like their music: theyre two thirds Japanese-Canadian, one third Jewish-Canadian.

Dyads not the only group making this sort of music. A handful of other grown-up punks are being drawn to it because of its rawness and obscurity.

Miyanishi admits hes obsessed with the obscure, saying, I was sort of a musical snob, I think, when I was younger. I liked finding things that no one else had heard of Its probably one of the biggest musical movements that no ones ever heard of. Theres thousands of people who play it, particularly in the U.S., but no one really does it to make money or say, Hey look at me.

If its so unusual, where does he find it? Miyanishi says it goes hand to hand, dealer to devotee. And the Library of Congress is also a big resource. A pure enthusiast, he adds, I just really love it. I love it so much I want to tell other people about it.

And hell do just that at the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival, where he says audiences will be treated to, A range of everything from solo balladry to interpretations of modern songs played on fiddle, banjo and guitar. And traditional stuff that maybe doesnt sound traditional, plus some straight up stuff that we learned from the recordings. Itll be a mish mash!

See Dyad on stage, Saturday, Aug. 4 at 9:55 p.m.


Organizations: Library of Congress

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Winnipeg, Vancouver Japan Canada U.S.

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