Craig Silliphant – Planet S
Published Thursday October 4, 2012
The Karpinkas are great musicians — and even better friends
I got a call from the receptionist at work on my birthday, telling me that a package had arrived for me.
“I wonder what it is?” I asked her. “Hate mail? A bomb? Anthrax?”
“It looks more like a record,” she laughed.
It was indeed a record — the new Karpinka Brothers album, There’s a Light.
As soon as I listened to it, I was reminded once again of why The Karpinka Brothers are one of Saskatoon’s favourite musical groups. Even the most cynical of hearts will be softened by this music; it’s just so damned earnest, likeable, and musically sound.
For those familiar with The K-Bros, the song that stands out right away is “Everybody Wants to be My Friend,” which could be ripped right from the lives of brothers Shawn and Aaron Karpinka. Not only do they share their love of music with the rest of us, they’re endlessly supportive of other musicians and writers — which is why pretty much everybody does indeed want to be their friend.
“The song comes from asking what real friendship is,” says Shawn Karpinka, “and we’re happy to be friends and bros to everyone.”
“I’m glad they love us,” adds Aaron Karpinka, “because we can only be the people that we are and we can only sound the way we naturally sound.”
That sound is a Saskatchewan take on sibling duo acts like The Everly Brothers or The Louvin Brothers, full of buoyant acoustic guitars and mandolins. At centre stage are pure voices and dulcet melodies that remind you of the comfort of family and friends. Their sound has evolved since the first album, but only in that it’s delivered with more confidence.
“On the first album we were like a young Anakin Skywalker,” jokes Aaron. “Now we have that Vader swagger.”
They shed their Padawan braids by testing the songs in some unique locations, rather than just sneaking them into the odd set at a bar gig — playing them in care homes, at libraries for kids, and anywhere people wanted to be moved by music. It helped them craft the songs by seeing what people responded to (and it didn’t hurt their lovable rep either).
“We started to play often in a care home, and heard people who have a hard time speaking sing along,” says Shawn. “Others have told us how our songs have helped them get through hard times, so we’ve realized how we can affect people with our music, and how much of a gift it is to play for them.”
For the first time, The Karpinka Brothers will be spreading the word outside Saskatoon, with a full band on a western Canadian tour. You can see them prior to their departure at the album release show at Amigos on October 12th, with Sarah Farthing opening.
“Aaron will be playing electric guitar for the first time with us,” says Shawn, “and it will be the first chance to buy our album on vinyl, which took a lot of time and effort to make.”
“[It’s the] K-Bros return,” says Aaron. “It’s going to be the Return of the Ukrainian Jedis!”