It’s unclear whether it was the efforts of his parents or the Winnipeg music scene that led Jesse Matas of the Crooked Brothers to where he is now, but regardless of the reason the trio is creating music that connects to audiences from the Manitoba to the Kootenays.
“Both my parents said that when I was in utero they used to put headphones up to my mom’s stomach in hopes that they would brainwash me with music that they like,” said Mattas.
Mattas plays in the Crooked Brothers with Darwin Baker and Matt Foster.
All three contribute lyrics and are multi-instrumentalists playing banjos, mandolins, dobro, guitars and harmonicas.
“Matt found out that I played mandolin and asked if I wanted to play in his country band,” said Matas.
Foster and Matas met through friends while they were both attending the University of Winnipeg.
Even though they may not be blood brothers, the experiences of recording and touring have led to a brotherhood relationship.
The music of the Crooked Brothers has undertones of the blues, country, roots music and rock; a culmination of where the three had been in their past projects.
Matas’ father had an extensive blues collection growing up which included the Rolling Stones and Tracy Chapman, but as he grew up he found himself playing in punk and grunge bands.
“I suppose I have always been attracted to gritty sounding music like blues, grunge and punk music; music with an edge to it,” he said. “I think a lot of bands in Winnipeg really took that transition from punk music and a little harder music over to a more folk sound. I think there are a lot of parallels to draw there. There are a lot of bands like The Magnificent 7s or The D Rangers who are playing punk music on acoustic instruments and that’s been pretty inspiring.”
Matas said the history of punk music also relates to the folk feel of the Crooked Brothers.
“The ethos of punk music is similar to protest folk music,” he said.
The Brothers sophomore album Lawrence, Where’s Your Knife? was recorded by the three in a cabin in Manitoba during the winter.
“That was last year I guess in the darkest time of the year in a cabin,” said Matas. “For the most part it was great. We could spend as much time as we wanted finding the right sounds for each instrument which I think is another aspect to this band that I really like, all three of us really like making albums.”
Like any good blues-based band the Crooked Brothers pull from heartbreak and heartache for their music.
“The two other guys in the band had some pretty huge breakups just before we recorded the new album and that certainly trickled into the theme of a lot of stuff,” said Matas.
The Crooked Brothers are no strangers to the Kootenays.
They were here late last year and Matas said they have toured our area more than anywhere else, aside from Manitoba.
“Touring is a side bonus of it,” he said. “We all love traveling and so far we’ve had a great time on every tour we’ve been on. The Kootenays is just the best place. It’s like coming home.”
The Crooked Brothers play The Royal with Cattle Annie and the Crooked Corral on January 26 and the Ymir School House on January 27.