Welcome

Welcome to the website of the Montreal folkgrass trio Steel Rail. Strong original material, superb three-part harmonies and hot picking have helped Tod Gorr, Ellen Shizgal and Dave Clarke win a loyal fan base in Central Canada. After almost a decade of living on opposite ends of the continent, the threesome are back together in Quebec, making new acoustic music that reflects the best of the folk, bluegrass and country traditions.

Check out their new album, Coming Home.

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Roots Music Canada turns spotlight on Steel Rail  

In July, Roots Music Canada correspondent Jan Vanderhorst had a long chat with guitarist Dave Clarke for an article on the website, which is dedicated to Canadian folk, roots, blues and world music.

His article, headlined "After a decade apart and a cancer scare, it’s a sweet reunion for Steel Rail," delves into some of the twists and turns in Dave's life during his nine-year sojourn in Western Canada.

The article also looks at the band's songwriting, including the collaborations on the Coming Home, and the musical partnership between Dave and his wife Lucinda. 

As for Dave's return to Quebec -- the "Coming Home" of the new album's title -- Dave tells Jan, "It’s as much a family as a band, you might say at this point.”

You can read the entire interview on the Roots Music Canada website here.

Canadian Spaces radio program features Steel Rail 

Chris White is a pillar of the Canadian folk scene -- a former festival organizer, manager and folk DJ who has been a friend of Steel Rail and hundreds of Canadian musicians for a couple of decades from his home in the Capital Region.

We were honoured to be invited to talk to him on his CKCU show Canadian Spaces. You can hear the results on Saturday, July 4, from 10 to noon. Bonus: the show also features one of our favourite singer-songwriters, the brilliant Lynn Miles, and her new album We'll Look for Stars. 

You can hear Canadian Spaces on CKCU-FM 93.1 or www.ckcufm.com... or listen from CKCU's audio archive at https://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/129/48281.html.

Coming Home featured on Sounds Atlantic podcast and The Back 40 radio 

The summer is off to a good start!

Starting at 12:01 am on Friday, July 3, Ron Moores' Sounds Atlantic podcast featuring Steel Rail will be available.

The podcast, titled Episode 91: Back on the rails: Steel Rail Celebrates Coming Home and more (Parts I & II) features a track by track listen to the new SR album along with Dave, Ellen and Lucinda's thoughts on the songs they wrote and what led to the new release after a 15-year hiatus.

The podcast is available wherever  you get your audio releases, including Apple ITunes, Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Google "Sounds Atlantic Podcast:"  and find it that way, or check out www.ronmoores.com/podcast. 

Tod, Ellen and Dave will also be featured Saturday, July 4, on Ron's show The Back 40 from noon to 1 p.m. on CKCU 93.1 FM (www.ckcufm.com) in Ottawa.

Steel Rail, Part 2, airs on Ron's show the following week: July 11.

Thanks to Ron, an old friend and longtime supporter. That's him at the Heritage River Festival in Burk's Falls, Ontario, in 1998.

We hope you can tune in!

 

Getting the word out Off Island 

Thanks to Briana Doyle, who wrote about us and other local musicians finding ways to get their music out during the pandemic. The article appeared in The 1019 Report, a new print-only newspaper distributed off the island of Montreal, so we can't give you many more details, but a photograph of the article is attached.

Briana is a talented musician herself: you can learn about her band The Breeze here.

Thanks, Briana!

Folk DJs: a band's best friend  

We're delighted to see that folk DJs are starting to add songs from the new Steel Rail album to their playlists. Here are some DJs and programs that are now playing songs from Coming Home.

Check out their shows -- they obviously have great taste!

Thanks to all of the above; their support helps us get our music out to the wider world.


 

New album Coming Home launches today  

Steel Rail is pleased to release Coming Home, the band's fourth album, on May 23, 2020. The CD celebrates a musical friendship that survived a cross-country separation, serious illness and a pandemic-interrupted recording process. 

Coming Home is a musical reunion of sorts, not just for Steel Rail themselves, who are releasing their first new album in 15 years. Bill Garrett, who co-produced the new  CD with Dave, was at the helm when Steel Rail released their first CD, A Thousand Miles of Snow, back in 1995.

Like all three of Steel Rail's earlier albums, Coming Home features 12 tracks that highlight the stellar vocals and striking songwriting of Tod Gorr, Ellen Shizgal and Dave Clarke.

You can read more details about the new album and preview some of the songs here.

 

At long last -- Coming Home  

In March, we previewed the cover of our new album, Coming Home. We're happy to say that, after a slight delay, the CDs have arrived, just in time for our new official release date of May 23. (What you see above is the inside cover of the album and the credits page.)

Coming Home features 12 songs by Tod, Ellen and Dave (in various combinations) that showcase the folk, bluegrass and country music we all love. 

Please stay tuned for a new page in the Music section that will tell you more about the CD, including how to order it!

April 25 CD launch derailed 

We're sorry to report that our CD launch concert at Le Petit Campus in Montreal on April 25 has been derailed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Like the rest of the country, we're self-isolating and staying safe, and we hope you are too. That means, however, that our coming-out party for our new album Coming Home has been put on hold, along with the rest of the excellent 2019/20 Wintergreen Concert Series.

We'll celebrate the new CD with a show once it is safe for everyone to come out (whenever that turns out to be).

In the meantime, stay tuned for an update soon on alternate album launch plans!

Please stay healthy.

Preview: Cover of our new album Coming Home 

We're thrilled to unveil the cover of our new album Coming Home, designed by the brilliant Michael Wrycraft. (If it looks familiar, that's because it is designed around the photograph by John Mahoney you see at the top of this site.)

The album, which features 12 Steel Rail originals, gets its official world launch April 25 at Le Petit Campus in Montreal, part of the Wintergreen Concert Series.
Those of you in Montreal can buy tickets here.

More details about the album and the show soon!

Bring on the snow (playlist)....  

We were thrilled to find out that the influential music site Roots Music Canada included A Thousand Miles of Snow from our first album in their snow-themed playlist last week. Among the other tunes on the list were Jesse Winchester's Snow, Song for a Winter's Night by Gordon Lightfoot, Nearly Midnight by David Francey and High Heels in the Snow by Lynn Miles -- heady company indeed.

Here's what writer Heather Kitching said about A Thousand Miles of Snow:

I’ve always felt that Montreal’s Steel Rail was a terribly under-rated act on the Canadian folk scene, so I welcome the opportunity to feature them on this list.  The trio writes some beautiful stuff – check out Penny Lang’s cover of Ellen Shizgal’s “Prairie Sky” – and their harmonies are lovely.  Also, the trio includes exceptional guitar instrumentalist Dave Clarke, who was David Francey’s sideman during his rise to the top of the folk A-list. “1,000 Miles of Snow” is a charming little song featuring Tod Gorr on lead vocals without the band’s signature harmonies in this case.  It’s a great showcase for that pure-as-a-winter-breeze voice of his.

Thanks, Heather! 

Here's a flashback photo from back when we were recording that album, taken by the fine Nova Scotia based photographer Nance Ackerman. The shoot was in March, but it was every bit as cold as a January day with a bitter wind, as you can tell from the distinctly frozen-looking expressions on everyone's face.

Happy new year, everyone

We're starting 2019 with a chilly flashback -- Tod walking down the centre of a secondary highway in west-central Quebec in what became the cover for our first release, A Thousand Miles of Snow.
A couple of things about the photo, taken by our talented friend Nancy Ackerman. 1. It truly was freezing that early March day near Rigaud. 2. You can faintly see some car headlights materializing over Tod's right shoulder. Several other vehicles, including an 18-wheeler, were dodged before Nancy finally got this shot.
Speaking of releases, we are happy to report that Steel Rail is finally in a studio working on some tracks for our next album. Like A Thousand Miles of Snow, it is being co-produced by our good friend Bill Garrett. We'll keep you posted re: progress as the winter progresses.
In the meantime, all the best for 2019.