Wolf Edwards is putting history to music.
The singer and banjo player for Victoria Celtic group Knacker’s Yard is endeavouring to marry “Dublin-style street-folk” with songs about Vancouver Island history.
“There’s a lot of rich history on the Island here that I wanted to expose through folk music,” Edwards said.
Knacker’s Yard’s latest album, this summer’s Gangers, Chancers and the Craic, features their first musical history lesson: The Milton Street Mine Disaster, which tells the story of Nanaimo’s No. 1 Esplanade Mine explosion of 1887.
Edwards said he learned about the explosion while doing a research project for a professor at the University of Victoria.
“What struck me most was that a good portion of the miners that died in that disaster were Chinese workers, and I noticed in the paper in the obituary there was a whole list of names of the miners that died and then it just said, ‘…and 60 Chinamen,’” he said. “And I was like, ‘Man, someone’s got to write a song about this and talk about that kind of stuff.’”
Edwards said his next historical song will cover Ginger Goodwin, the Island labour agitator whose controversial shooting death triggered the Vancouver General Strike of 1918.
“We go up and down the Island all the time. Playing really rural, remote areas, you get to meet people from families of theses sorts of characters, which is interesting…” Edwards said. “People come to us and start talking to us about it because when we perform we talk about the history of the songs.”
WHAT’S ON … Knacker’s Yard performs at the Nanaimo Bar on Friday, Nov. 23 at 9 p.m. $10 cover. They also play the Corner Lounge on Nov. 30 at 9 p.m. $10 at the door.