Small Town Artillery
May 15 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
THE SMALL TOWN ARTILLERY COLLECTIVE is the moniker under which brothers Tom & Derek van Deursen release and perform their signature style of music. The name comes from strong roots to their rural Kootenay upbringing, ties that have tattooed their hearts indelibly and deeply influenced their art. The name references the “artillery” of rural community living – where people come together to share resources in times of need, understand the benefit of ritual and respect, and are encouraged – not always by choice, sometimes by necessity – to work through their differences out of a need to share what little there is; like the grocery store. Or the fire truck.
The belief that these values – honesty, joy, accountability, curiosity, empathy – are weaponry for good is a shared tool of the van Deursen brothers and their music. Tom’s lyrics are introspective, unique, anthemic and delivered in his own developed voice, a high-middle tone croon that cracks and scoops, refusing to be any less R&B than it is pop punk. Derek’s blood-blended harmonies thicken out the vocals and his drumming, like Tom’s guitar playing, sounds like thousands of hours of dedicated instrument worship with very little outside influence. A sound born in the middle of nowhere, without wifi, hungry ears gleaning everything they could from the little bits of rock and roll that came through their fuzzy antenna or 14.4kb/s internet connection – to download a single song could take anywhere from 1-3 days.
This remote experimentation has been honed in over 400 shows together since 2003. The band relocated to the west coast, grew to include a robust horn section in 2015, took home first place and $10,000 in a battle of the bands, and went on to build their name by doing it DIY. Backyard rock shows across western Canada with a full PA, FOH technician, and as many as 3 other bands along for the ride showed the keen work ethic of the group – willing to go the extra kilometre to build a show where there had never been one, and keep it family friendly and community minded. These tours earned them key festival bookings, from headlining Edge Of The World Festival (2018) on Haida Gwaii to closing down the Holland Stage at Kaslo Jazz Festival (2019) They have played the Commodore Ballroom twice. They spent the fall and winter of 2019 booking themselves a 42 show, 2.5 month cross Canada headline tour that skipped the major centres and focused on smaller towns. They played the first 2 of these shows before Covid arrived. During the pandemic they carefully organized and completed DIY tours with social distancing protocols, playing outdoor venues at severely limited capacities- just to bring music where it was needed.
2022 was a very quiet year for STA from the outside. However, in the lab, they were humming away, writing, tweaking and learning – and at the time of this writing they sit on a treasure chest of almost 40 new songs. 2023 has brought with it the loss of their beloved founding bandmate and bassist Carson, instrumental (pun intended, he woulda liked that) in helping shape the raw talent of the brothers into a sound that felt like something all its own and world class.
Their live show is a crackling good time, full of emotional dynamics, trumpet and violin earworms, guitarmonies and feeling. 2024’s touring outfit is 6 strong, featuring Kyle Vaughan (Year Of The Wolf) on Guitar, Safiya Labelle on Violin and Vocal, Jocelyn Waugh on Trumpet, and Sam Schuette on Bass.
This show at Vallican Whole also features an opening set by Salt Spring Island’s Safiya Labelle 🙂
So, 23 years from the first notes played together as brothers, and nearly 10 since naming the band, the van Deursens still have something to offer. They hope you enjoy.
The Birds Up North Are Braver (Music Video)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMSRMKbMCzE&ab_channel=SmallTownArtillery
Tickets can be reserved via e-transfer to [email protected]. They’ll also be for sale in the community throughout the winter.
The Vallican Whole