The Wardens fondly recall the night one of their musical dreams came true in their new single Sold Out At The Ironwood — premiering exclusively on Tinnitist.
But don’t think they’re bragging on this personable slice of folksy boom-chikka country; the title track and first single from their upcoming third studio album is really about a brush with another artist’s greatness.
“I wrote this song after watching Tom Russell on stage at one of the premier venues in Alberta,” says singer-guitarist Bradley Bischoff of the Banff roots trio. “It was a full house, and Tom — my Elvis — invited me to help him sing one of his songs.”
Clearly, it was a night to remember. Of course, these days, any live show would be momentous. When The Wardens recorded Sold Out At The Ironwood, they couldn’t have imagined that they would have to pivot and completely change their plans for promoting the album, set for release on Jan. 29. For a band known for their captivating live show, not being able to play tour dates to support the new release was definitely not the best-case scenario. But they decided to reframe their predicament and reflect on the incredible 10 years they’ve had as independent musicians.
“We’ve played nearly 50 shows a year for the last five years all across western North America,” says singer-bassist Ray Schmidt. “We’ve done it with stubborn grit and determination, creating audiences where audiences don’t traditionally exist. We have travelled into the darkest corners of rural western Canada and found people who want to hear our kind of music, and they come from miles around to see us. We played a show at Hoadley Hall, Alta., a while back, and it’s basically a community hall at a crossroads in central Alberta. By the time we got called onto stage, there were 300 people packed into the hall to hear us play. They may have come for the pie, but they stayed for The Wardens.”
Of course, that’s what happens when you put three Banff National Park rangers together and add superb musicianship, haunting harmonies, and chilling tales from men who’ve spent their lives deep in Canada’s wilderness. The Wardens don’t just sing about the land, they’re part of it. With performances equal to the mastery of the ranger trade, The Wardens’ mountain music — a blend of folk and Americana — and their masterful storytelling recreate an authentic piece of the fabric of the North American landscape.
The trio perform with western Canada’s finest fiddler, Scott Duncan, and have performed at Folk Alliance International, Canmore Folk Festival and in theatres from California to Alaska. They’ve shared the stage with Blue Rodeo, Paul Brandt and Ian Tyson. The backdrop to their performances features stunning projections of the landscapes they sing about. The Wardens have released two albums and one EP, with the most recent being their full-length Sleeping Buffalo (2017). It features 12 tales of mountain legends, tragedy, the regeneration of a species, and the landscape of love. The album features cameos by renowned musicians Calvin Vollrath (fiddle) and Gideon Freudmann (cello).
Their new album picks up where their live shows left off. Sold Out At The Ironwood is a virtual set list for a concert, set an experience like a Wardens performance from beginning to end. It’s all about community — the community that The Wardens have created with their fans. And with live venues unable even to operate — never mind sell out — the trio are here to provide a bright reminder of what was and will be soon again.
Sold Out At The Ironwood will be released on Friday, Dec. 4 on Spotify, Apple Music/iTunes and other digital retailers and streaming services worldwide. But you don’t have to wait. Check it out right now above, hear more from The Wardens below, and connect with them via their website, Facebook and Instagram.