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Trent Severn

  • Trent Severn
  • Trent Severn


Trent  Severn  is  an  acclaimed   Ontario  folk  trio  who  sing  original,  contemporary  songs  easily  described   as “Canadian  history in harmony”.  Topically  modern  with a humorous twist, Trent Severn have inspired  audiences all over Canada  to share a patriotic  laugh and let their glowing hearts melt away.

Continuing  the deeply  poetic legacy  of true ‘red and white’  pioneering troubadours such as Stompin’ Tom Connors, Ian and Sylvia Tyson and Gordon Lightfoot,  the eminently  talented  southern Ontario trio planted  their Maple Leaf flag  deeply  in the firmament  of the Canadian  roots music scene with the release of their self-titled  debut album  in 2012. Through regular  touring  in communities of all sizes, they continue to win over  fans from coast to coast with their bracingly authentic acoustic-based, story-centred brand  of music.

The two-time  Canadian  Folk Music  Award-nominated  Trent Severn was named  after  a famous Ontario waterway and founded on a remarkable creative kinship between two well-established, Stratford,  Ontario area musician/songwriters.  Emm Gryner  and  Dayna  Manning came together  out of a shared  desire  to work  with  one another  and  by  their  common  affinity   for  all  that  makes  Canada   special.  Accomplished   fiddle  player   Lindsay Schindler joined  the group  full time in 2015, replacing  the equally  adept Laura C. Bates.

Their second album,  ‘Trillium’  sees Gryner,  Manning and  Schindler  even more  fully  embracing  ‘Canadian  History and Harmony’ with 10 beautifully crafted,  profoundly evocative songs that are at times wistful, melancholic, contemplative, joyous but always thoughtful.

“I know  I felt a little bit of pressure this time. Once I saw what the first record  became and how  it came together  I was  really  proud  of  it  and  really  thought  that  we  accomplished  what  we  set out  to  do,”   said  Manning, who produced  the new album.

Self-production  is at the core  of  Trent Severn’s collective  desire  to be a truly  grassroots  DIY outfit,  free  from  the encumbrances of outside industry influence and the compulsion to pull into lockstep with what the ‘tastemakers’ say is hip.

Part  of  that  is a  fierce  appreciation for  lyrical  depth  –  songs that  have  meaning,  charm  and  wistful  grace.  A common theme in Trent Severn’s music is a longing  for and appreciation of home – whether it’s one’s home country, province  or the small communities in which the band members now live.

“The whole album has an Ontario thread to it. There is something to be said for coming home after living elsewhere for  a number of years.  I travelled  a lot and  lived  out west for  a while  and  came back to live in my hometown  of Stratford  and I feel like I live in paradise  every day.  That theme of going  away,  growing up and experiencing life in different  places is very present on this album,”  Manning said.

“Dayna  and I have both done that. Where  I live, there are people  who are just dying  to get out but I think it’s the most amazing  place,  and that’s after living in Montreal, L.A. and New  York. We all see the beauty  and appreciate different  things in the smaller places that are the real heartbeat  of Canada,” Gryner  added.

An appreciation for the little details and interesting  stories that are alive in every community is also at the heart of Trent  Severn’s  entire  musical  ethos.  Much   in  the  way   Stompin’   Tom  immortalized  Sudbury,   Tillsonburg   and individuals  like Bud the Spud, and  Big Joe Mufferaw, Trent Severn also choose to celebrate  the scenery, folklore and personalities  that inhabit the communities that make us all tick.

“We  love  to hear  the observations  from  our audience  and  they’ll  write  to us about  what  their experience  is. That feeds our desire to write more and more songs that tell the real-life stories of Canada,” said Gryner.

“I get thinking  about  things like the pancakes at the Hoito  restaurant  in Thunder Bay, reading  the memorial  to the miners in Cobalt.  As lifelong  Canadian  musicians, we thrive on having the chance to tour and getting to experience those things in everyone’s hometown,” said Manning.

She also  pointed  to  the song  Haliburton High  which  was  seeded  by  a  long  drive  through  cottage  country  and attempting  to  annoy  her  fellow  traveler  by  singing  road  signs along  the journey.  It turned  into  one  of  the most atmospheric  and  almost symphonic  pieces on Trillium and  will  no doubt  be a concert favourite  for  many years to come.

For Manning, the most personal  song on Trillium is ‘King  of The Background’,  a touching  and  heartfelt  tribute  to fellow  Stratford  native Richard Manuel,  of the legendary roots-rock group  The Band.

“He  is so important  to  everyone  around  us. We  all  knew  of  Richard  through  our  fathers’  generation; when  he committed suicide in 1986, our friends’  dads were his pallbearers,” she explained.

“I wanted  to touch upon what it must be like to be as talented  as he was and have to share the stage with Robbie Robertson,  Levon Helm, Bob Dylan  and  Ronnie Hawkins.  He was just so integral  to The Band and  absolutely  ran the background for that scene that they painted.  I wanted  to give him a real honourable tribute in an artistic way.”

Gryner  believes  that  Trent Severn  is more  than  a  band  –  it is a  conduit  for  an  exchange  of  ideas,  stories and memories of people  who  appreciate or pine for  a more simple, nostalgic,  slower-paced  lifestyle.  The trio  want  to build   an  almost  collaborative  relationship   with  their  audience.   Their  audiences  even  show  up  wearing   their trademark  plaid  uniforms.

“We  want  to  honour  a  particular legacy  left  behind  by  the great  songwriters  of  Canadiana. We  take  this very seriously and we really  feel grateful  to live in this country  and want to share that with our audience  and we want our audience to share their love and their stories with us,” Manning said in agreement. 

“We  began  with  the  musical  notion  of  starting  a  band  that  focused  on  great  harmonies,  our  communities  and playing  stripped-back,  acoustic  music that  we  enjoyed.  As we  toured  the first album,  we  found  that  the people would  bring  something to the shows. It’s like we are growing with the audience  and we are taking  whatever  they have  to give  us and  turning  it into  something  too.  I am always  surprised  at how  our  songs impact  people,” said Gryner.

Trent Severn, to their surprise, are  also led on adventures  by  their songs. They’ve watched  the RCAF ‘Snowbirds’ demonstration  team fly  to their  tune ‘Freedom’  three  times, they  serenaded  Col.  Chris Hadfield while  he was on board  the ISS in 2013  with  his request ‘Truscott’, and  that same year  were  recruited  to sing their now  trademark three-part  harmony  arrangement  of our national  anthem on Canada  Day  to raise the flag  on Parliament  Hill.  The band  was also featured  in MacLean’s magazine  under the headline  “Trent Severn picks up where Stompin’ Tom left off,”  the year we lost our treasured troubadour.

With songs about trains, small town charms, unique Canadian  personalities,  a tribute to the iconic work of William Lishman, (inspired  by and co-written with the ultra-light aircraft  enthusiast, artist and birdman  himself) and, yes even a song about the 2012  maple syrup heist (‘Stealin’  Syrup’), Trillium sees Trent Severn hitting their stride as musicians, songwriters and harbingers  of all that is good,  great and beautiful  about small-town Canada.


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