Duo shows where there’s light
By Stephanie McKay, The StarPhoenix October 11, 2012
The Karpinka Brothers might just be the nicest band in Saskatoon, and they’re proving what you can do with a few good songs and some gentlemanly charm.
Indie music kids wear their T-shirts and seniors tap their toes to their songs. After four years of hard work, their sophomore album is ready for fans young and old.
From their gentle music to their matching shirts, it’s easy to see why the pair of Aaron and Shawn Karpinka are finding fans all over Saskatoon’s music listening community.
“We’re not hard guys to get along with,” Aaron said during an interview at a Broadway coffee house.
Their album, called There’s A Light, doesn’t officially come out until Friday, but the Karpinkas have been handing out lots of copies ahead of the release.
“We get accused of giving it out too much,” Aaron said with a laugh.
The band is headlining at Amigos for the first time on Friday, but you’re more likely to see the duo playing at the Parkridge care home.
“I think we learn how to be performers by being able to capture their attention,” Shawn said of the care home audience. “Those are our favourite shows actually because you hear them singing along when they can’t speak and you see them clapping and dancing when they don’t move very much. It reminds you what music is about.”
The brothers say they get a great response from the audience and some feedback. Often listeners ask them to play a favourite song.
“We started doing Snowbird by Anne Murray because of that. That’s their jam,” said Aaron.
The Karpinka Brothers’ debut album, One Brick At a Time, came out in 2008.
The siblings and best friends, separated in age by two and a half years, have learned a lot since that first album, which was recorded in a single day. It began circulating, thanks in part to their mother.
“Our mom peddled it. She promoted us like she was Don King or something,” said Aaron.
On There’s a Light, the band “spoiled” themselves, taking three days in the studio with help from musicians, Ryan Drabble on drums and Enver Hampton on bass. Though the album was recorded a year ago, it’s only now getting an official release because the brothers had to wait for the vinyl pressing. Both musicians are huge fans of vinyl and were excited to hear their music on the re-emerging format.
“Hopefully it sounds like we’re standing in your living room serenading you,” Shawn said of the record.
There’s A Light is a warm and upbeat collection of eight originals and two covers. Though initially reluctant to put covers on a record, Aaron said the tunes are a way to showcase their musical interests and “maybe show people we don’t just listen to the Everly Brothers.”
Both brothers write songs for the band, splitting lyrical and instrumental responsibilities down the middle.
“We both have lyrical input, because if I did it they’d all be about staying up late at night playing video games,” said Aaron.
Once you meet the pair their music makes perfect sense. Both men are every bit as positive as their music.
When the Karpinkas aren’t making music themselves they are out at shows, cheering on their musical peers.
One highlight of their career so far was playing for the VIP ticket holders before the Gordon Lightfoot show in Saskatoon in December 2011. The Canadian music legend was there to listen to the set.
“We had to beg for a long time to even get a show. As an acoustic duo it was hard to get shows in bars. So to get asked to play for your hero is just amazing,” said Shawn.
The Karpinkas introduced their parents to Lightfoot after the show where he asked their mother: “Now, tell me honestly, are these guys any good?”
She said yes, of course.