Duo Blends Folk and Bluegrass

By Mikael Mintenko

In a large pot, mix together a classically trained violinist and a folky bluegrass guitar player, cover and let simmer for three years. This simple recipe with complex flavours provides you with a thick, sweet spoonful of some delicious Rag Maple, a talented band that is sure to excite your musical taste buds. Conceived in the fall of 2013, Rag Maple has been gigging and releasing music they call “indie-folk with a hint of bluegrass,” always satisfying the sweet tooth of their fans.

Writing and playing a unique blend of bluegrass and rock music since he was 14, Alex McDonald’s influences stem from his father and brother, sprinkled with a hint of Wilco and Woody Guthrie. Playing the piano since age 6, and violin since the age of 10, Sheila Roberts draws her inspiration from old time country and Canadian fiddle. Now both in their early 20s, they bring their diverse musical backgrounds together to create something special.

While living in the Orangeville-Guelph area, McDonald began searching for a fiddle player to partner with and complement his songwriting. Some mutual friends introduced him to Roberts and soon they were making sweet music together, which culminated with the release of their first self-titled EP. In 2016, Roberts moved to Thunder Bay to attend Lakehead University’s Nursing program, with McDonald close behind. Continuing to create their unique blend of music, they have played various shows throughout the city and released a second EP in August titled Resonator. They are currently working on some new music they hope to record once they’ve earned enough money gigging to cover studio time.

Catch Rag Maple at The Foundry on January 2 and February 6 at 7 pm. Check out their website ragmaple.com for music and past performance videos. Their first EP is available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube. Resonator can also be be found on BandCamp.