New Rucksack Willies Video

Since the Rucksack Willies started playing at the Cameron House in 2011, fellow musicians and the bar’s regulars have been telling friends that this band is not to be missed.  So come on out to see them, Monday’s at 6pm.  In the meantime, check out this brand new video followed by an interview with vocalist Angie Hilts.

Paradise Blog: Your band has a great dynamic, how long have you been together and how long did that dynamic take to get to where it is today?

Angie Hilts:   The Rucksack Willies were formed in 2008. We were all students at Humber College in the BA of Contemporary Music. This includes Jazz, pop, R&B, folk etc. Our love for old-time roots music brought us together and in the fall of 2008 we were formed.  Our sound and the group dynamic has grown like an old boot. The more you stomp and walk in it, the more it feels like the perfect fit. The Cameron House has helped our group synergy and cohesion. With each weekly gig, we have really learned how to listen and work off of each other. It really feels like a band now.

Paradise Blog: Where do you see the band two years down the road?  Five?

Angie Hilts:   In two years I would like to see the band touring Canada. We have ideas for the next album and I would like to have it released by then. In five years I would love for the band to have some international acclaim.  We all would like to be able to fully support ourselves with music we love. This includes co-writing, touring with other bands, and continuing our learning of old-time music.

Paradise Blog: Where did the name come from?

Angie Hilts:   Jack Kerouac’s novel The Dharma Bums inspired the name. Here is a quote that really resonated with me.

…see the whole thing is a world full of rucksack wanderers, Dharma Bums refusing to subscribe to the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming, all that crap they didn’t really want anyway such as refrigerators, TV sets, cars, …all of them imprisoned in a system of work, produce, consume, work, produce, consume, I see a vision of a great rucksack revolution thousands or even millions of young Americans wandering around with rucksacks, going up to mountains to pray, making children laugh and old men glad, making young girls happy and old girls happier, all of ‘em Zen Lunatics who go about writing poems that happen to appear in their heads for no reason and also by being kind and also by strange unexpected acts keep giving visions of eternal freedom to everybody and to all living creatures.
  Jack Kerouac (The Dharma Bums) 1958

I love the idea of just dropping everything you have and only carrying what you need to survive and wander.  The name Willie adds a touch of Bluegrass to our title.

Paradise Blog:  The band did a killer job on Midnight Special last Monday.  Which version do you like better:  the CCR one or the Leadbelly one?

Angie Hilts:   CCR all the way! Lucas plays in a CCR cover band called CCRR. This band knows how to throw a party! Leadbelly is an amazing musician and he also influences our sound.

Paradise Blog: Some hilarious mishaps are bound to happen when transporting a stand-up bass around.  Do you know of any such mishaps that have befallen bass player Lucas Gadke?

Angie Hilts:   The TTC in Toronto can be a crazy thing. Lucas has learned to, 1) Master transportation of the stand-up bass, and 2) Answer the many question asked about his “large violin”.  I encourage anyone to travel with Lucas, it’s always an adventure.

Paradise Blog: Do you have a favourite Cameron House memory?

Angie Hilts:   I look forward to each week at the Cameron House. We have met some wonderful people.  I love bringing in new material and seeing the reaction of those who are there. The atmosphere is so positive and friendly.  We cover an old traditional Scottish song Wild Mountain Thyme. I would have to say my favorite moment was when a family from Scotland who were visiting sang every word with me.

Paradise Blog: When people talk about the Rucksack Willies one of the first things they mention is how phenomenal drummer Galen Pelley is, but last Monday he wasn’t with the band and you had another excellent drummer.  Who was that guy and where do all these great drummers come from?

Angie Hilts:  At Humber College each student had an amazing talent. Each one of my friends could play some sort of instrument, and they only improve with time. Chris Ryan subs in from time to time. Galen and Michael Eckert (dobro) are also in the band “The Treasures”, so sometimes we have to share.  🙂

Paradise Blog:  Fill us in about the video and upcoming album.

Angie Hilts:   Alex Browne did the video. He also did the photography for our album which will be released on June 07th. He is more talented than words can say.  He was eager to help us and a joy to work with.  Reuben Ghose recorded, mixed and mastered this song. He is the engineer who did our last album as well. He is a great friend and fantastic engineer.  Chris Doble and Reuben suggested we record at Verge Music Lab. It’s an “old school” type of recording where we limited ourselves to eight tracks.  Mostly live off the floor, similar to the way things were done in the 60s/70s.  But still keeping the sound competitive with modern music….similar to Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings.

Having just come off a three-day tour of Sarnia, London and Peterborough, we arranged to all meet in Verge Music Lab. It kind of looks like I’ve spent some time on the road. I’m a little tired and road weary. The perfect image for the Rucksack Wanderer.

In the “You never know who you’ll run into at the Cameron House file”, the above picture was generously donated by professional photographer and filmmaker Paul Perrier, director of the critically-acclaimed Cracked Not Broken, a harrowing portrait of one woman’s crack cocaine addiction.  

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