A native son came home to Ucluelet on Saturday, bringing his Celtic band.
Multiply musical, Wolf Edwards fronts Knackers Yard, and the band brought rousing Irish tunes to the ANAF Hall. But that’s not all the 1990 graduate of Ucluelet Secondary School does.
From an amplified viola/guitar combo to the Toronto Symphony, Edwards composes it all.
He holds a masters degree from UVIC, and he has studied with Gilles Tremblay in Quebec, as well as with masters in Germany and France.
He turned down an opportunity to work on a doctorate at Harvard University (“Too busy. I’ll do it later, I’ll do it when I’m 50,” he said.)
No synthetic origins for his music, tohugh.
“I literally have paper and pencil, I do it ‘old school,'” Edwards said. “I just start from an idea and write pieces for whatever instrumentation the group is.”
On stage at the ANAF, with his five-string banjo twanging (along with band mates on another banjo, rhythm guitar, mandolin and bodhran/bones) Edwards slipped with ease from his Vancouver Island spoken accent into full-on Irish tenor.
His band, Knackers Yard, plays traditional, rollicking, foot-stomping Irish tunes – strong Celtic stuff, punctuated by fascinating vignettes about their origins in Irish folk lore and political unrest.
“This is great music … It’s disciplined in its simplicity,” he said. But Scandinavian black metal? Full-on orchestral classic? Wolf
Edwards likes it ALL.
“I like different types of music -I like how they evolve on their own,” he said.
Wolf Edwards still sports the dreads he wore at USS. An accomplished musician, he reminisced while his band, Knackers Yard, played at the beleaguered ANAF Saturday. (Cover photo of band by Brad Larson)
“Classical people always want me to mix it … they want me to bring it in. Some of the conductors are like, ‘We want to bridge the gap to the public,'” Edwards said. “The gap between music? I don’t think it exists.”
You won’t catch Wolf Edwards throwing in some Disney overtures or Metallica stylings into his classical composition.
“I don’t think that’s reaching the masses. It’s not going any favours for the project of classical music,” he said.
“You don’t want to mix metal with classical, it’s just the lowest common denominator … Bringing pop music into classical music is not a good idea. People are going to tell you their opinion, are you going to follow it?” Dreadlocks tied back, Edwards cuts a youthful troubadour’s figure at 42. Like the dreads of his youth, his West Coast roots are always with him -his mother’s 26-year job packing fish, the time he got suspended from school before graduation for playing expletive-laden punk rock at a USS band concert – and he retains a life-long affection for his hometown.
“I always talk about Ucluelet .. I was talking about Ucluelet in Port Alberni (Friday night at Char’s Landing) -at length,” he said with a chuckle.