The Treasures, Artist of the Week
Runs Mar. 3-7th.
Michael Poskanzer – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Duncan Davies – Vocals, Acoustic & Electric Guitar
Liam Cohl – Vocals, Double Bass & Bass Guitar
Michael Eckert – Pedal Steel, Banjo, Dobro, Acoustic & Electric Guitar
Galen Pelley – Vocals, Drums, Percussion & Piano
Toronto roots rockers the Treasures have honed their back-to-basics sound the old-fashioned Toronto roots rockers the Treasures have honed their back-to-basics sound the old-fashioned way: through the boot camp of constant gigging. Specifically, the kinds of bar residencies where you’re expected to play multiple sets a night for an audience who are often there more for the beer than the band. If you can succeed in that kind of challenging setting, you know you can take your act anywhere.
Formed in 2009, they’ve built up a dedicated following over the past few years, winning over audiences with their sweet harmonies, nostalgic melodies, and warm classic twang. Instead of a single frontman, they share vocal duties and all help out with writing the tunes. After all, some music is more about the song than the video, and for the Treasures, the song is always supreme.
A shared appreciation of the Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons, the Byrds and the Band initially inspired them, but they’ve since found a niche all their own, within which all of their influences could coexist. This isn’t retro music, but it sure isn’t the trend of the week either. It’s simply the honest expression of the love these five musicians have for the larger tradition of rootsy rock ‘n’ roll.
“Growing up in the city, I spent the majority of my life without much exposure to country music, but once we started playing it, we realized that it’s all over Toronto, at least once you know where to find it,” explains singer/guitarist Michael Poskanzer.
When it came time to capture their songs on disc, they began by making the classic pilgrimage to Nashville, only to discover that the clean and pristine modern country approach didn’t suit their tunes. Seeking a less polished approach and wanting to capture the sound of a group of musician playing together in a room, combining energies into a whole greater than the sum of its parts, they came back to Canada and relocated to The Hip’s Bathouse studios. Into the producer’s chair came Colin Linden, who they were already big fans of, admiring his work with the Band, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Bruce Cockburn, and T-Bone Burnett.
“Colin just tried to capture us as we are. He didn’t try to make us into anything we’re not, and just focused on getting all that raw live grit,” bassist/vocalist Liam Cohl says. “He was the best one-man crowd we could’ve hoped for. If Colin was rocking out in the corner, we knew we had a good take.”
The Treasures’ sound falls into a long tradition of urban country rock in Toronto, stretching back to the Band’s early years backing up Ronnie Hawkins on the rowdy and rough 1960s Yonge Street strip, to the 1980s Queen West cow punk scene, to the new generation of young roots bands that are keeping the spirit alive today. As tempting as it is to describe the Treasures’ approach as Americana, it would be more accurate to call this Canadiana.