Bend the River formed in 2008 when singer/songwriters Ronok Sarkar and RJ Donovan joined up with Adam Fine and Matt Myer of Gypsophilia in support of a number of Sarkar and Donovan’s compositions. The results produced the band’s first album, Revolt of Angels, which was recorded over two afternoons at the former Ginger’s tavern on off hours. The album received positive reviews and airplay on CBC and local radio. Bend the River also gained the attention of the Halifax music community and a loyal following of fans that saw in the album what one reviewer called “music that won’t be an afterthought in a few weeks.” In 2010, RJ moved away and the band reshuffled, adding the incredibly talented singer / songwriters Norma MacDonald and Becky Siamon as well as Mark Bachinski who is best known for his work with Classified on drums. The band’s sound and stage performances underwent a transformation, what Sarkar has called “a move from 1971 to 1977,” embracing a louder, more soul, and heavily harmonic sound - allowing members to dig into their jazz and soul influences to create something unique and new. The great Phil Sedore who has worked with a long list of Halifax’s most talented musicians rounds out the new lineup on guitar and lap steel. Bend the River continued to play around Halifax consistently and have performed at Halifax Pop Explosion, At The Dead of Winter Festival, and The Full Circle Festival – as well as a long series of gigs all around Halifax.
With the release of So Long, Joan Fontaine, Bend the River have finally gotten down in the recording studio what they have been doing live for some time. Bringing carefully crafted songs together into sophisticated arrangements and vocal harmonies, drawing on the deep influences and musicality of the band - Bend the River’s truly original approach and sound come of age with their new album. Exploring the nostalgia and grittiness of longing both musically and lyrically, the larger than life Bend the River tunes like “Jennie and the Night Before” and “No One Else to Blame” are cast amidst nostalgic simple tracks including “Half of my Love” and “Dear Old Jackson” across an album that both tips it’s hat and also draws some dark conclusions about one’s relationship with the past. No one else really sounds like Bend the River but the music seems instantly recognizable – a reminder of music from another time but also something new and vital. So Long, Joan Fontaine was recorded in Halifax by Charles Austin and most of the tracks are off the floor direct to tape. The album was mastered by John Baldwin in Nashville, TN and mixed by Ronok and the band.