Inn Echo’s music is a vibrant instrumentally-fueled road-trip through genres, echoing songs of days bygone as well as the sounds of today, where you might feel like you’re standing in the past and present at once. The band is Gormlaith Maynes (concertina, vocals), Jesse Periard (guitar), Tuli Porcher (fiddle, vocals), and Karson McKeown (fiddle).
Three of the four members are graduates of Holland College’s SOPA program, while Maynes moved to PEI last August and was destined to meet the others. They first rehearsed in October, started low-key gigging in November.
Put simply, Inn Echo plays modern-traditional music. “It is a mishmash of different elements of traditional music and different elements of contemporary music,” said Periard.
Each member draws from many different influences. “We’ve got some vibes,” said McKeown. Periard uses effect pedals, such as bass pickup, and a kick drum to make the songs extra danceable, pleasing both those familiar and unfamiliar with trad music. “With our instrumental arrangements, we’re trying to make them accessible to folks our age,” added McKeown.
There are not many elements of PEI traditional music in Inn Echo’s songs, as all members are not originally from PEI. “I’m possibly the most traditional in terms of style,” said Maynes. McKeown brings influences from the Ottawa-Valley style to the songs. To date, Inn Echo’s music has been instrumental, but they recently started breaching into songs with lyrics. Those songs, too, incorporate large amounts of instrumental arrangements. “We always try to make things comfortably complex,” said Periard.
For the summer, the band had hoped to secure one show at the Festival of Small Halls. Well, turns out they’ll be playing two gigs at the festival, and ended up filling out their summer calendar with gigs elsewhere. “We didn’t know how it was going to take off. We’re not even a band for a full year. I think we’ve been very lucky and we’ve received a lot of opportunities along the way that have brought us this far,” said Maynes.
The members get along very well on both a musical and non-musical level. “Not having a set leader is really cool. It basically means for us that every idea should be tried,” said Periard. “We usually rehearse for 3–5 hours at a time, and there’s a lot of ideas going around,” said Porcher. “We usually start with a tune and say, ‘let’s not make this too complicated,’ and then we make it too complicated,” joked McKeown.
The group wants to take their sound outside of PEI and in August, Inn Echo will travel to Maynes’ hometown in Ireland to play at the Fleadh Cheoil festival. It’s the final competition and festival of the year for Irish traditional music, said Maynes. The festival attracted 500,000 people last year.
The ‘Inn’ in Inn Echo comes from Banbridge Inn, where Porcher and Maynes reside, and where the band rehearses. The “Echo” aspect refers to echoing different traditions, being an echo of who the members are. And, if you’re near the Inn, you can hear the tunes echo through the walls. “If you pass by, you’ll hear us,” said Maynes.
Catch Inn Echo live at St. Mary’s Church on June 8 and at their debut
CD release show on June 29 at The Pourhouse in Charlottetown.