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The Duhks on the Cayamo Cruise

Apr 13, 2008
Kimmy Sophia Brown

The Duhks! I had a little back and forth tug a war with a guy before the concert as to whether it was pronounced Dukes or Ducks but when they came on stage they said, thank you for coming to hear the Ducks! So I won a promised beer for the next night which I didn’t collect, but it’s nice to win anyway!

When we first boarded the ship I saw two young men walking together, one with a beard and his arms feverishly tattooed. They looked like brothers. I thought to myself, those guys are musicians! As it turned out, they were the Duhks’ guitarist, Jordan McConnell, and their drummer, Christian Dugas.

My friend, Mimi, in Virginia, had told me that they were her favorite new band so we were really looking forward to hearing them. Genevieve and I settled down among the chaise lounges and ended up helping a guy spill his drink on himself (so we bought him a beer) and then we sat talking with him and his wife about Paste Magazine and the Duhks and other things.

The Duhks are from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The lead singer, Sarah Dugas, who looks kind of like a cross between Irish actress Maria Doyle, and Marilu Henner, was a very powerful singer. As my friends from Woman Within International would say, she is dwelling very much “in her woman”, with an incredible vocal range. Band members include Tania Elizabeth on fiddle, Jordan McConnell on guitar, Leonard Podolak on banjo, (except that Leonard had a problem with his passport being stolen in Scotland on their gig previous to the Cayamo Cruise, so he didn’t make it to the ship. Poor guy!) and Sarah’s brother, Christian, on drums.

They performed “Wasn’t that a mighty storm”, “Travelin’ Shoes”, Tracy Chapman’s “Mountains of Things”, “Sleeping is all I want to do” and other songs ranging from Celtic, to Afro-pop, to French Canadian and Brazilian Samba. 

This band has a cyclone of energy at their core, and just plain incredible musicianship. The range of musical styles, performed with great skill, was utterly exuberant and joyful. There were lots of duels between fiddle and guitar, fiddle and drums, and everyone en masse. The diminutive and pixie-faced Tania was astounding on the fiddle. There seems to be a growing population of female fiddlers that are giving men a run for their money.

They said they were nominated for a Grammy in the Country Music category against the Dixie Chicks and others for their song, “Heaven’s My Home”. It’s interesting that they were in the Country category because they certainly can’t be pigeonholed in any category, their style is too diverse.   

On their website it says that their previous lead singer, Jessee Havey, left to pursue her career elsewhere. She was replaced by Sarah Dugas, formerly with the band Madrigala. Their drummer, Scott Senior, left the band recently with partner and baby, so Sarah’s brother, Christian, took his place on drums.

Their style was diverse and powerful and energetic - truly a sumptuous feast. They finished their set with Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”. It was rumored that they had toured with Robert Plant. If they did, they all must have had a blast. If they didn’t, it’s a good idea!

Their website is:

Their MySpace is:

Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember.She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.

She writes the column "From the Back Porch" as well as reviews of music in her column "MusicViews". Her goal in her music reviews is to introduce music she loves to people who may not have heard that particular artist or CD. For information about how to submit a CD for review, click here.

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