Music makers unite in song

With a working relationship as much in harmony as their voices, the duo of Ash & Bloom are beginning to hit their stride as performers.

Ash & Bloom are in the middle of a Canadian tour which includes a stop at the Dream Cafe on Sept. 5.

Ash & Bloom are in the middle of a Canadian tour which includes a stop at the Dream Cafe on Sept. 5.

With a working relationship as much in harmony as their voices, the duo of Ash & Bloom are beginning to hit their stride as performers.

The duo consists of friends Matt McKenna and James Bloemendal, who are bringing their show to the Dream Cafe for a show on Sept. 5.

Bloemendal talked about their current tour which involves stops at venues across the country.

After a touring three weeks, hitting Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, they began the second leg travelling from Toronto, westward to Saskatoon before doing a bit of a backtrack for a special show.

“We flew back from Saskatoon to Toronto to open for Christopher Cross at the CNE (Canadian Nation Exhibition),” he said. “He’s great. I guess some heritage acts are not able to maintain the level of talent and skill he is. He was phenomenal.”

Their musical style is described as folk and pop, with musical influences coming from well-known duos of the 1960s and 1970s such as Simon and Garfunkel, The Everly Brothers and Hall and Oates.

“We’re pretty obsessive about singing a lot of harmony and doing unison but mostly our voices are singing at the same time,” said Bloemendal. “We do a lot of finger-picking on acoustic guitars. We also use a lot of foot percussion.

McKenna uses a cone modified to sound similar to a kick drum and Bloemendal uses a foot tambourine in order to increase their musical range and enhance their sound.

“It gives us a little bit of a chance to like, simulate a drum kit along with us, which really adds to a 60-minute show,” he said.

Since their meeting nearly a decade ago, they have been collaborating, first performing in the Hamilton-based band Garner before transitioning into a duo act.

“Matt and I met in a choir, so we were both singing in the baritone section,” he said. “Right from the beginning when we met, we were making music together and we were singing together. We ware both kind of studying music at the time and we were some of the few people there who were pretty serious about going on with it.”

They began performing in a series of different bands, first performing jazz before it “morphed” into writing their own music.

“We kind of went through a series of bands together over 10 years until the other members kind of fell away and the two of us were left and we got to say, ‘What is it that we really want to do?’” said Bloemendal. “It became pretty clear. We love singing. We love playing acoustic guitar. We love songs that are really deliberate and thoughtful.”

Bloemendal explained that although he and McKenna have contrasting personalities, they’re also complimentary to one another and he said it has helped them to stay motivated, to continue growing as performers and to keep learning from one another.

“Matt is one of the most sensitive and best listeners that I’ve met,” he said. “He’s got a very unique way of looking at things which I think makes for interesting songs.

Bloemendal, on the other hand, described himself as the one who is focused on grander thoughts such as how they can move their careers forward and the type of actions they can take to attain new goals.

“There’s this kind of balance between him looking at those specific details and me thinking about some of the bigger picture stuff.”

Their debut full-length album titled Let The Storm Come was released in June.

After wrapping up their North American tour, the duo will be heading to Australia and are expected be on the road until June 2015. Tickets are $12 and are available by calling 250-490-9012. Showtime is 8 p.m.