The Gleaner
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Durham County Poets drop new album

Emily Southwood

Valley favourites Durham County Poets are set to launch their fourth album, Hand Me Down Blues, on September 20. The album, which garnered $5,000 of support through crowdfunding, will primarily be a blues album with a 50/50 split of new material and covers. While the Poets are known for their unique mix of blues and folk with hints of gospel and swing, frontman Kevin Harvey explains that this time around they wanted to produce a singularly blues album. The reason for combining their new material with covers is to pay tribute to the songs they have long performed and love, by remastering them for their audience.

With Kevin Harvey (centre) on lead vocals, the band also features Neil Elsmore, Rob Couture, Carl Rufh and David Whyte.

Formed in 2011 with Kevin Harvey on lead vocals, for this album the band will feature David Whyte, Neil Elsmore, Carl Rufh and Rob Couture. Couture, formerly of the Echo Hunters, joined the Durham County Poets two years ago as drummer. He has brought a bigger sound to the mix, allowing the group to explore different styles in the blues genre.  

Another huge blues inspiration behind the album was an encounter between Harvey and Muddy Waters after a 1981 Montreal performance. That story will be featured on the CD and is the inspiration for the cover, featuring original artwork from Elsmore. All in all, the album represents several styles in the blues genre that speak to the Poets collectively and individually.

The band will take the new album on tour this fall with a roster of shows extending from New England through Ontario and Quebec. They will perform for local audiences on Friday, October 18, at Grove Hall in Huntingdon, and the next night at the Town Hall Theatre in Chateaugay, N.Y. 

Speaking of what it’s like to tour, Harvey says, “It’s both hard work and a real blessing. Personally, I’m grateful for the guys as they make it possible for me, a disabled musician, to tour and perform. I’m also grateful to my wife Darlene, who puts up with me and welcomes me home in the wee hours of the morning.”

Harvey goes on to explain that both their U.S. and Canadian audiences always give back so much. “We are grateful for New York state, just right here at our door. Whether we’re down by New York City, over in Rochester, or right here in the Adirondacks — it’s just a wonderful experience. And of course, we love our hometown friends, family and fans who encouraged us in the first place. So to them we say, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

To keep up with updates from the band, follow @Durham County Poets on Facebook and check in with their tour dates at durhamcountypoets.com. Fans won’t want to miss their fall tour, which as always promises the sentiment so well expressed by musician Bill Hurley: “There’s something about the Durham County Poets that leaves you feeling that everything might be OK in the world after all. There’s a human spirit that lives in these people, and their music is the medium that allows that spirit to roam free.”

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