Western Canadian bluegrass band Nomad Jones started off as an out-of-control jam session in a hotel lobby.
After playing together for a year, the group – singer and guitarist Bill Humby, double bassist Nico Humby, banjo player Craig Korth, fiddler Byron Myhre and Miles Zurawell on resonator guitar – released their debut album, Pickin’ Up and Puttin’ Down, and this week they’re playing the West Coast for the first time, including a stop at Nanaimo’s Harbour City Theatre on Feb. 27.
Bill Humby, who lives in Nanaimo, said the band recorded the album in a one-day whirlwind session at Selkirk College’s recording studio.
“We did, I think, two or three takes of every song and then we just picked the best from that,” he said. “So it was basically recorded just live off the floor and the students and the main sound engineer from Selkirk College helped us to put it all together.”
Humby said they aimed to put together an eclectic mix of songs to show off their group’s versatility.
“Because we have five people that come from really a range of musical experiences, we have a pretty wide-ranging repertoire of songs and so we really wanted to make sure that our album sort of showed that.”
As the band features five members from four cities in two provinces, Humby said they mostly communicate electronically and perform on condensed tours and at festivals. On their current four-date West Coast run, Boise, Idaho fiddler and three-time world grandmaster Katrina Nicolayeff is filling in for Myre.
Despite being so spread out – Zurawell lives in Victoria, Korth’s in Nelson and Nico Humby and Myhre live in Edmonton – Humby said the bandmates are quick to get on the same wavelength when they’re together.
“When we’re playing, we’re all using the same brain,” he said.
It’s a connection they’ve shared since their earliest rehearsals together.
“I remember we played one song and we played it through and it was just great, like everyone, without saying anything, we all knew where it was going. Started together, finished together, it all worked out,” Humby said. “And so we started playing another song and it’s the middle of the second song and I just start laughing and Craig’s like, ‘What’s wrong?’ and I go, ‘Nothing’s wrong, this is just so frickin’ great I can’t believe it.’”
WHAT’S ON … Nomad Jones performs at Harbour City Theatre on Wednesday, Feb. 27. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 7:30. Tickets $20 from Fascinating Rhythm or online.