For over a decade, Jon Francis and Trevor Reid had plans on Wednesday nights.
The pair were part of a weekly open door jam group that would meet and play at Ian Caron’s home. People came and went over the years, but for five musicians the sessions became sacred.
“Those jams just kept going,” says Francis. “Wednesday night was like, I had a baby and I think I went to jam night. You just went.”
All that devotion went public last month when Nelson’s Born on a Wednesday released their debut album Western Wind. The 12-track folk record by Francis, Reid, Caron, Simon de la Salle and Cole Auringer, which is available for streaming and purchase at bandcamp.com, sounds like music for a rainy day spent under a blanket. It’s a low-key soundtrack to Kootenay Time, where nothing is hurried and everything is present.
Each of the five musicians contributed songs and sing on the album, but Western Wind still sounds like a complete, coherent statement. Reid says he thinks the band’s sound is the result of spending so much time together.
“It is funny. For years we didn’t really write songs, it was more just like kind of freeform,” says Reid.
“I feel like there was nights where I swear we played the same song for three and a half hours straight. And then we started writing songs and they started getting better and better. I think that’s when people started dropping off and we kind of formed a group of people that actually wanted to work on song structure and stuff like that.”
The jam sessions were also notable for a lack of covers. Musicians brought in original pieces, which the group has workshopped into what Francis says are 50-to-60 completed songs.
Last fall, the group played its first house show. Reid says that was the moment a weekly meetup turned into a proper band.
“I think it was well received. We got a lot of positive feedback. We really practised for it more than we ever had, like focusing on the songs.”
The setlist for that show ended up being similar to the track list for Western Wind, which they recorded over two busy days in August at Winlaw’s Sincerity Sound Studio.
Born on a Wednesday features no drummer, so the group has relied on hours of practice to keep its songs on time. When they entered the studio, Francis said engineer Barry Jones was worried about the group’s ambition for recording 12 songs in two days with no drummer.
“On the first track I remember [Barry] saying the timing must be off,” says Francis. “We did four takes of that track. They were all within a second.”
The album doesn’t have a single, which is how they prefer it. Nothing is meant to stand out, but everything still fits together.
“There’s no part of that album that we’re like hiding somewhere deep in the trenches. …,” says Reid. “We didn’t have a couple singles and then a bunch of filler. We had kind of the opposite problem actually, we really struggled to pick the songs we wanted to record.”
That struggle should be short-lived, since the band is already looking ahead to its next studio dates and, eventually, live shows. After a decade of Wednesdays, they are ready for an audience.
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