Dustin McGifford favoured a name with “woods” in it for its organic, earthy vibe.
His partner, Annie Scott, thought she heard him say “words” and threw out “honest” to go with it. Marry the two and you have Honest Woods, a new Kelowna band capable of bringing any room to its feet, whether it be full of partying snowboarders at Big White or equestrians at a Kelowna Riding Club show. And yet, they’re modest.
“We started playing the open mic night at O’Flannigan’s and it really is what fostered any fan base we have,” said Scott, who grew up in Penticton and moved to Kelowna with her partner, McGifford, to pursue music.
Initially rummaging through the local music scene’s free stage opportunities was just a way for her and McGifford to make friends, but they quickly became serious about forming a band, pairing with drummer Joshua Ertman, of Kelowna, last spring.
They’re seasoned pros at winning attention. Aside from placing in the top 20 of the regional finals for the CBC Searchlight Competition,over the winter,they took first place in the Talented Kelowna finals.
Bringing down the house in polished black and red outfits as they danced from jazz to rock, Scott’s light English accent adding a delightful lilt to a rousing performance amid some tough competition.
The prize brought with it more than accolades as it offered recording time to produce their first EP: Downpour.
With six songs, including a live version of their favourite and first collaboration, Shy, it’s a well-thought-out inaugural effort, even if its title is a little ominous.
The recording was named after a night musing in a bar as a rainstorm raged on the pavement outside and they all thought the selection was an apt moniker for a collaboration where it would seem success has virtually fallen in their laps. Sure enough, however, come their first show post-recording session, the clouds opened up.
“It was a little ironic,” said Scott in a moment vaguely reminiscent of Alanis Morissette’s Isn’t it Ironic controversy. Whether it was irony or just a taste for rain, there is certainly a twisted humour in gamely naming what could very well prove the watershed recording of their blossoming career after a serious rainstorm, then having dark clouds follow the music thereafter.
With the radiant personalities on this young group, they’ll almost certainly find a way to shine all the same, maybe even working with their new stormy mystique.
This recording is less about the finished product and more about the process of congealing, they say.
“I think we learned a lot about coordination in the band doing this. Really, we’ve never had an experience recording. Even now, listening to the tracks, there’s quite a bit where we’re like ‘Oh, we could have done a little bit more of this, we could have done a little bit more of that,’” said Scott.
For McGifford, stepping into the studio and working with sound engineer Mike Petersen offered a unique opportunity to fall in love with the material—even the songs one member or another might not like.
Ertman wasn’t a major fan of their first big hit, Shy, but the studio time helped him find the elements in the song he could make sing, for example.
It’s going to be critical knowledge as they step out onto the Landmark Events Festival Contest stage (regional events take place in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Kingston and Quebec City) to compete before Warner Music and Sony Records representatives.
Honest Woods warms up with a release party June 14 for Downpour at Fernando’s Pub in Kelowna.