Sprag Session
Region: Cape Breton
Genre: Celtic

Sprag Session, formerly Colin Grant Band, has developed a unique style and repertoire of music. Lingering somewhere amidst the rich, soulful roots of traditional Cape Breton music and the grooves of a thousand branches of rock and funk, Colin Grant embarks on his latest project: a dynamic and thoughtful mingling of beats and melodies from an extensive host of musical influences. Far from the awkward malaise of mohawked bagpipers and kilted punks, the Sprag Session has created a kind of Celtic fusion that is as much Béla Fleck and the Flecktones and Frank Zappa as it is Ashley MacIsaac.

With a traditional trio comprised of the manic Jason ”leaden-left-hand” Roach (piano, Dawn and Margie Beaton) and embarrassingly talented Darren McMullen (mandolin, guitar, banjo, J.P. Cormier) Grant hooked up with the rough and red-eyed blues/funk rhythm section of Merlin Clarke and Donnie Calabrese (Tom Fun Orchestra). Together, the group produces a fervent yet calculated rhythm that backs an expressively diverse range of tunes. While the lively sound never strays too distantly from its Cape Breton roots, Sprag Session has found an open ear in everyone from indie scenesters to blue-haired bingo stampers.

Quotes

“the whole package: superb musicianship, excellent compositions, unique arrangements, a band that exudes energy and virtuosity, a stage presence that connects with their audience.”
Joella Foulds, Artistic Director, Celtic Colours International Festival

“This is Cape Breton music that loses none of its traditional power as it is blended with very funky contemporary rhythms. I am well aware that fusion music of this kind often falls flat on its face and fails to meet both its trad and contemporary aspirations. In this particular case, though, these young gents have it down cold. Jason Roach (piano), Darren MacMullen (mandolin, guitar, banjo), Colin Clarke (drums) and Donnie Calabrese (bass) join fiddler [Colin] Grant on an inspired and inventive journey through 12 instrumental sets of trad and original tunes, the latter being composed by either Grant, McMullen or Roach. The grooves are rock solid and always imaginative and the instrumental work of the strings and the piano darts, ducks and weaves over the top with impressive fluidity…For now I do believe these lads have few equals. Sprag Session is staying on my stereo and I am playing it loud. This one blows the roof off, folks”

Tim Readman, Penguin Eggs (Issue 55, Autumn 2012)

“…Comparisons are onerous, but there are bits of everything in here, from Madness to Mouth Music, Wolfstone to Western Swing. Think Slainte Mhath without the pipes. No – think Omnia with a demon fiddler. Better still, think outside the pigeonholes, as these lads turn their talents to primal Breton dances, growling reels, riffs and rolls, licks and loops, and just occasionally create a moment of perfect beautiful calm. Google, poke or tweet spragsession – there’s only one – to discover this intriguing new approach to Cape Breton fiddle music and more.”

-Alex Monaghan, Living Tradition (Issue 93)