The Dead South + Devarrow + Danny Olliver @ MTelus – 1st November 2019

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The Dead South

I have to admit that I’m not The Dead South’s greatest fan.  I am not familiar with all of their music and if Spotify hadn’t snuck in a few of their songs into my personally made daily mixes, I would probably never have discovered them.  I do know, however that based on the few songs I heard, that this band had to be witnessed live.  

Walking into the sold-out  MTelus on a damp and windy night, I laughed to myself when I was handed my ticket.   I could not have chosen a better date, November 1st; All Saints Day or Day of The Dead.  With all the recent postponement of Halloween hoopla, I pushed past the prospectors, dreadlocks, hipsters and hillbillies, unsure if people were in costumes or simply being themselves.

Danny Olliver

The show began at exactly 8:00 with Danny Olliver, an indie/folk artist from Regina.  He worked really hard at warming up the rowdy Friday night crowd.  This was not an easy feat because he performed solo with only his acoustic guitar.  He was genuinely surprised that people came to watch the opening acts and was extremely thankful.  His voice was sweet and by his third song, I think he succeeded.  (Josephine)


The second act was also Canadian indie/folk artist but was a little more intense.  Devarrow seemed to feed off of the energy of the crowd and got really amped. He told us that we were the largest audience he’d ever performed in front of which got everyone even more excited.

Finally, around 9:50, the MTelus went dark, four stained glass church windows came up behind the stage and four large lanterns were set at the front.   Then, as though arriving through time travel from the 18th century, four pioneers appeared.  In their crisp white shirts, black trousers, black suspenders and flat-brimmed hats, The Dead South took over.    

Opening their set with “Diamond Ring” from their latest album “Sugar and Joy” (which was just released on October 11th), they slowly worked the crowd until we were all beguiled.  

Their haunting blend of banjo, mandolin, cello and guitar create this magical, mystical folkloric sound that is unlike anything I’ve ever heard. They have somehow managed to add a punk rock twist to their bluegrass vibe which makes them truly unique and so much fun to watch perform.

The Dead South who has been referred to as “Mumford and Sons’ Evil Twins”, are a Canadian quartet based in Regina, Saskatchewan.  Formed in 2012, these bluegrass rebels are; Nate Hilts (vocals, guitar, mandolin), Scott Pringle (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Danny Kenyon (cello, vocals) and Colton Crawford (banjo). They each have a charismatic presence that is part outlaw, part hero and fully entertaining.

Saving “Snake Man” and “In Hell I’ll Be Good Company” till the end The Dead South did not disappoint.  They seemed genuinely happy to be in Montreal, voicing their gratitude for the 2200 tickets sold!

Their ballads of cheatin’, killin’ and drinkin’ are meant to be sung loudly in large groups.  As the Montreal crowd stomped their boots, clapped their hands and sang along, I wish that I knew the lyrics.  (Next time I will)

“We are the Dead South who sailed across the sea to take back our lives and leave this land of misery
Our will is our weapon our hearts forever bound
Come on now tilt your bottle back and let’s go grab another round 
(Good Company)


  • Diamond Ring
  • Time for Crawlin’
  • Boots
  • Miss Mary
  • The Recap
  • Honey You
  • That Bastard Son
  • Blue Trash
  • Fat Little Killer Boy
  • Snake Man
  • Black Lung
  • Heaven In A Wheelbarrow
  • In Hell I’ll Be in Good Company
  • Crawdaddy Served Cold
  • Banjo Odyssey

Review – Annette Aghazarian 
Photos – Kieron Yates

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