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Folk duo stopping in Nanaimo while touring their way to the Canadian Folk Music Awards

Mama’s Broke will play the Untarian Hall on March 29
Amy Lou Keeler, left, and Lisa Maria, of Mama’s Broke will play the Unitarian Hall in Nanaimo on March 29 before performing at the Canadian Folk Music Awards in April. (Photo by Blanca Esther Chavez)

Amy Lou Keeler and Lisa Maria of Mama’s Broke have been on the road together since day one.

The folk duo from Halifax have shaped and developed their unique musical stylings all while touring through different communities and creating connections with other like-minded musicians for the past nine years.

As Maria recalls, it all started when she was able to hitch a ride with Keeler who was driving from Montreal to Halifax. The two formed a fairly immediate bond during the 17-hour road trip.

“We spent that car ride talking about our love of music and our influences and what we look for and strive with our songwriting. And it seemed to really click,” she said. “So by the time we got to Halifax, we started jamming. And then we recorded a five song EP, and then went over to Ireland and started touring and we pretty much never stopped.”

In the early days, Maria said she and Keeler were able to land a lot of house-show gigs through friends of friends, and soon enough the two had established themselves within a network of travellers and musicians that supported each other. She said a lot of their current success, including their ability to travel they way they do, was because of this network.

Being on the road has influenced their music significantly, as they’ve picked up different traditions from around the world – similarly to how folk music was originally passed on from person to person.

“It all comes from a very personal place and the main thing we strive for is to be authentic with sharing our truth, and are very much influenced by our personal experiences navigating through this world that is sometimes both dark and both beautiful,” Maria said.

While living in Montreal in her early twenties, the musician was influenced by Québécois foot percussion and style of fiddle playing, which both took practice to master but has always been a part of Mama’s Broke’s signature sound.

“There’s a time I can remember playing fiddle and not being able to smile at that same time. And worked my way up to smiling, then talking, then singing. And then after that came the foot percussion … It helps that I have dance background in Ottawa Valley Step Dancing,” she said.

Their second album, ‘Narrow Line,’ was released May last year, and received a Canadian Folk Music Award nomination for Vocal Group of the Year. They were also nominated for a Juno Award this year for Traditional Roots Album of the Year. In 2017, Keeler and Maria were awarded the CFMA’s Ensemble of the Year for their debut album ‘Count the Wicked.’

The duo will stop by Nanaimo while on their way to perform at the CFMA in Vancouver in early April, and will then continue touring through Oregon and Washington states. Before the awards show, the two will also play Salt Spring Island on March 30 and Victoria on March 31.

Mama’s Broke performs at the Unitarian Hall on March 29, starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online through

READ MORE: Celtic-folk-inspired family band to play Nanaimo as first stop in West Coast tour

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Mandy Moraes

About the Author: Mandy Moraes

I joined Black Press Media in 2020 as a multimedia reporter for the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, and transferred to the News Bulletin in 2022
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