“Our goal is simply to celebrate Canada: the land, the culture and the musicians who have inspired us.” That is how Collen Middleton (guitarist and vocalist) describes Bent Roads Tavern and their new album Clear Nights. Brite Lites. After illustrating this point with their recent single, “Let’s Go To Newfoundland,” which earned them a feature interview on CBC in St. John’s and considerable praise in the Canadiana music press, they are back with another ambitious track dedicated to their fellow Canadians.
“This song was originally conceived when I was living with my wife in Williams Lake (BC) and splitting my time working in Calgary” reveals Middleton. “On the surface, this story follows a fictional character but the emotions they evoke for me are visceral and personal – a sort of compilation of impressions I’ve developed of farmers I’ve met and become friends with in my life so far.”
‘Fallow (In This Deep)’ is the second single that producer Michael Phillip Wojewoda (Barenaked Ladies, Great Big Sea and the Rheostatics among many others) got behind the controls for.
“It’s a harrowing love song” says Middleton, adding, “this track is about a farmer on the brink of ruin, and then a massive drought strikes. It’s intended to shine a light on the raw determination, gumption and grit of Canada’s unsung heroes working the land.”
About Bent Roads Tavern
This might be the first you’re hearing of Bent Roads Tavern but they are a musical collective with a storied past. Originally formed in the early 2000’s at the University of British Columbia and led by songwriters Collen Middleton (vocals and guitar) and Christian Stokkmo (vocals and guitar), the original seven-piece band helped local club owners sell a lot of beer while building an enthusiastic following for their eclectic mix of punk, modern jazz and folk music.
In 2003, Bent Roads Tavern played what turned out to be the final performance for the original group after which both Middleton and Stokkmo left Vancouver for separate personal journeys. The band continued to perform with new members for a number of years before finally dissolving.
In 2019, word reached the former band members that Christian Stokkmo had passed away at the early age of 38. The news came just a few years after the passing of original bassist Brad Dean at the age of 33. The surviving musicians came together to pay tribute to their lost comrades by dusting off the files of some old (poorly recorded) demos of the original band and re-recording a few. In 2020, Bent Roads Tavern fans (Bent Heads) rejoiced at the release of the subsequent five volume set The Legend of Bent Roads Tavern
The reception they received inspired the group, including members from all eras of BRT, to begin working on a brand new album featuring re-recordings of old favourites and new written material.