Posted: February 28, 2017 Filed under: Next Wave | Tags: accordion, Adrian Dolan, americana, British Columbia, Canada, country, keys, Pacific Northwest, The Bills, Traditional, Vancouver, west coast
Adrian Dolan is a multi-instrumentalist and composer perhaps best known for his work with the award-winning roots ensemble The Bills over the past 13 years. His skills as an accordionist, violinist, fiddler and pianist have landed him on stage with some of the best in the business, and along with a passion for composing, educating and leading a new generation of folk music into the 21st century.
Classically trained on piano, violin, and viola, Adrian began composing at a young age, and performing professionally in his mid teens. After taking up fiddling he was soon putting his piano skills to use as an accompanist, culminating with guest performances with the Victoria Symphony, and summer festival stages around the province.
After Adrian joined The Bills at age 17, the band became one of the foremost touring groups playing over 160 shows annually in Canada, the U.S., the UK, and Europe. Their 2002 and 2004 releases both garnered JUNO Award nominations, Western Canadian Music Awards, and received worldwide airplay. Music videos for two songs from “Let Em Run” have been featured on CMT Canada. They’ve played for countless radio broadcasts, including CBC (This Morning, Q, Canada Live), Radio-Canada, BBC Scotland, Radio Sweden, NPR, and Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour. The Bills continue to tour in support of their latest release “Trail of Tales” (2016).
For the past 10 years Adrian has been honing his creative and technical prowess in the studio as a producer and engineer, working with an eclectic array of artists over the years spanning the folk and Bluegrass realms, into country, garage rock, storytelling, jazz, and comedy. Adrian’s skills as an arranger have been sought out in many projects to expand the sonic landscapes to include live string sections. As a multi-instrumentalist he has been frequently called upon for session work in Vancouver, Victoria, and beyond
Currently, Adrian maintains a busy schedule of performing, arranging, producing, sound engineering, and teaching. He frequently travels to instruct at traditional music workshops across Canada, and has also served as Musical Director for the BC Fiddle Orchestra. Adrian currently performs with Ruth Moody (The Wailin’ Jennys), and has also toured and recorded with a wide array of artists including BCCMA winner Ridley Bent, The Arrogant Worms, Irish legends The Chieftains, Barney Bentall, Old Man Luedecke, Raffi, and Cape Breton’s Rankin Sisters. He recently was hired by Musical Director Bill Henderson to perform viola in the band for the world premiere production of Bruce Ruddell’s “Beyond Eden” which ran for 49 performances in Vancouver and Calgary as part of the Cultural Olympiad in 2010.
Adrian has served as concertmaster for Bach on the Rock Chamber Orchestra, and the Sooke Phiharmonic Chamber players under the direction of Norman Nelson, as well as performing on both viola and violin with the Victoria Chamber Orchestra and the Victoria Civic Orchestra.
Posted: March 31, 2015 Filed under: Next Wave | Tags: accordion, accordion american, alternative, american, americana, band, blues, Decemberists, folk, Jenny Conlee, portland, rock, west coast
By Christa T. for Accordion Americana There is a point where a band can evolve from a regionally identified indie folk rock band to that of a mainstream pop group. For The Decemberists, whether for good or bad, such an evolution is currently underway.
The Decemberists had been a relatively high profile band but chose to abruptly drop off the radar in 2011. It was understandable due to a health crisis experienced by the band’s indispensible accordionist and multi-instrumentalist, Jenny Conlee. With the release in January, 2015, of their long awaited full length album, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, Conlee and The Decemberists are now healthy for the rigors of performing and touring.
The Decemberists originated in Portland, Oregon. The band’s name was inspired by the Decembrist Revolt, an insurrection in Russia in 1825. In 2000, Songwriter/Frontman Colin Meloy, who had recently left his band, Tarkio, migrated from Montana to Oregon. Both Query and Conlee were members of the group, Calobo, and through Query, Meloy was introduced to Jenny Conlee. The three created a score for a silent film together then joined Chris Funk, who at the time was their unofficial guitarist and a fan of Tarkio, and enlisted drummers Ezra Holbrook, then Rachel Blumberg. John Moen has been their drummer since their third album. The Decemberists’ musical style is very lyrical with the elements of whimsy and fantasy playing a large role in their artistic sensibility.
As a seasoned musician and an excellent accordionist performing with an ensemble, Jenny Conlee knows when to alternate between using restraint and showmanship. To blend with the other musicians is fundamental, but not to the point where her presence is perceived as nonexistent. The goal is always to emotionally connect with the listener and to know what the music needs at that moment. The remoteness of the recording studio is a common challenge and a live performance is critical to show where that connection lies. Live shows are also fun for the audience and The Decemberists, who often involve the audience as participants in reinactments of historical events.
“Down By the Water”, from The King is Dead, was nominated for the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Rock Song.
Meloy made good use of the hiatus and became a published children’s book author while Query, Funk, Moen and Conlee were involved with a side project, the band, Black Prairie. Jenny Conlee’s abilities as an accordionist, organist, pianist and “occasional back up singer” were featured as guest artist on several records. Artists and groups include Reclinerland, Lewis Longmire, Jerry Joseph, Buoy LaRue, Casey Neill & The Norway Rats as well as a collaboration between The Decemberists and The Minus 5 in “Killingsworth”. Jenny Conlee also appeared in Portlandia in comedic skits with Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein.