After a glitch of some kind, the EP arrived in the mail and I finally got to hear The Good the Bad and the Banjo’s official EP. We’ll say the two month delay was because of the tumult at the post office created by covid- 19 and let that be the excuse.
After that, there isn’t much information, other than that the EP is called The Stump Sessions by The Good the Bad and the Banjo . A little research turns up not much more. It’s four piece from Maple Ridge and a further request reveals that the band is Aaron Connaughton (vocals, guitar), Caden Knudsen (banjo), Pascal Bouchard (percussion) and Ryan Gosling (bass).
What do they sound like with a band name that invokes a little imagery? It’s not Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western themes and not bluegrass, though Knudsen might have come from, or been influenced by, bluegrass. It’s certainly not rock but nor is it country, especially not modern country, which might as well be rock. The banjo suggests old time, depression era folk, but the songs, all by, Connaughton indicate he comes from the “singer-songwriter ” school. Whatever you might call it, the banjo is being put forward as the key to the sound.
That, too, can be a problem. Where can it go? How can it be developed? As a showpiece of experimentalism that uses all kinds of sounds created by pedals and amplifier settings?That would make the banjo a star and would pull the band into rock. It also might invite accusations of gimmickry. The Good etc. don’t look like the types who’d go in for theatrics.
So, the banjo here dominates as colour but works in tandem with acoustic guitar as a rhythm instrument while bass and drums are unintrusive, allowing Connaughton’s songs to set the scene. There’s some variety here, a jauntiness about Mind Set, a relaxed mood to Punch, anger in Bone Dust, a kind of devil-may-care stance to Shoot ’em with the Banjo. Mostly, Connaughton sounds disturbed by what he sees around him and a lyric, “free your mind” from Mind Set might explain all of the Stump Sessions. Think for yourself, go for the individuality of The Good, the Bad and the Banjo.