Giving Old Appalachian Music a Nova Scotian Style | Arts & Culture | Halifax, Nova Scotia

When Nova Scotians think of traditional music, some may think of the Celtic music they have heard over the years.

For the Halifax-based Old Beef String Band, the idea was a more Southern sound.

The band has been playing fiddle and tap dancing since the 2015 jam session. Now, they have released their debut EP Take a ride homefilled with originals from the old days of Appalachia, sprinkled with a few covers.

The band includes lead singer and guitarist Ellen Kearney, fiddler and vocalist Amy Lounder, and mandolin and banjo player and tap dancer Dane George, all of whom are passionate about American Southern music.

While they enjoyed playing in person during their first few years in the band, the coronavirus pandemic quickly put an end to that in 2020.

Stuck at home, they decided to email tracks back and forth. This ended up being the basis for a new creative project.

“I know I played a lot, like playing violin in my room, practicing and stuff like that,” Round said in an interview with The Coast. “Alan and Dan started writing songs together. That’s when the two original songs on the album were born.

These two original songs, “Ride Home” and “The Love You Give,” were an interesting experiment for the band. While they personally enjoy the ancient music of Appalachia, Round said much of Nova Scotia’s traditional music is Celtic.

“It’s more challenging to write in that place,” Round said when asked about writing outside of his own cultural context. “We both listened to a lot of old-time music and played traditional music—Alan in Kentucky. We went to school and learned this stuff. So, we just immersed ourselves in it that way, so our songwriting grew out of that.

They also have an instrumental song, “Cynthia,” written by Lounder, and covers of “Hot Sausage Mama” and “Gospel Plow.”

The album is now available on streaming services. The band’s performance is also worth paying attention to, as they are known to be very entertaining.

“We have some tricks up our sleeves,” Round said. “We play fiddle sticks and we always have Dane do some flat moves. He kind of steals the show because it’s so fun to watch him perform.

For more information about the Old Beef String Band, visit their website.

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