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Karpinka Brothers Charm Sask

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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.

Brotherly Love

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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!”


Local Folk Duo Release New Album

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by Chris Morin – Ominocity

Saskatoon’s Karpinka Brothers have quietly released their latest full-length album entitled There’s A Light.

Although rumour has it the boys are waiting on some vinyl pressings of the new album, it is likely that an actual album release show is likely imminent on the horizon. After all, it isn’t official until there is a party. Just sayin’.

Additionally, the Brothers will be appearing at MoSoFEST on Saturday, June 16 opening for Regina’s Andy Shauf.

Musically, having already garnered comparisons to Simon & Garfunkel, The Everly Brothers and Tom Petty, There’s A Light is an easy listen that is life-affirming, and laden with plenty of vocal hooks and breezy acoustic guitar leads.

Lead track “Save It For A Rainy Day” is an optimistic equivalent of a hug – an anthem for the Karpinka Brothers if there ever was one – and could easily contain a few handclaps along with the chorus. Just sayin’. The rest of the album follows suit with a flowing, intimate folk style that works in both rock venues and house shows.

But, having been entrenched into the local indie rock scene and being a fixture at pretty much every show no matter what genre, who exactly are the Karpinka Brothers?

Besides being hands down the nicest guys to ever don matching western wear shirts in Saskatoon.

Ominocity caught up with the dynamic duo for a quick infomercial-style chat presented Q ‘n’ A style.

You’re welcome.

Ominocity: First band you were in?

Aaron Karpinka: “As a young boy I put some elastic bands on a hockey stick and shredded some solos. So technically my first band was a solo project.”

Shawn Karpinka: “I was the front man in a cover band in high school that did all the grunge hits.”

OM: Favourite food?

AK: “Kraft Dinner. Usually over the pot while sitting in the dark.”

SK: “Post gig poutine at Vangelis after rocking. The poutine routine.”

OM: Eye colour?

AK: “Brown. They have also been described as ‘dreamy’ in color.”

SK: “Green as the promise of spring.”

OM: What board game are you best at?

AK: “Fireball Island. It’s from the 1980’s. Very rare. Very amazing game.”

SK: “Jenga. Where are we going? Higher.”

OM: Most memorable Karpinka Bros show?

AK: “Playing at TCU place for the Gordon Lightfoot concert. It felt like a dream the whole time. We brought our parents and met him after the show. There were cheesecakes in the greenroom. They were huge.”

SK: “The Parkridge Centre in Saskatoon, a care home we love to play, hearing their voices sing back to us.”

OM: Which K Bro would win in an arm wrestling match?

AK: “Contests and competition between us is forbidden.”

SK: “Shame on you.”

OM: Boxers or briefs?

AK: “Boxers. Sometimes.”

SK: “Briefs. Always.”

OM: Do you have any cool scars?

AK: “Only mental scars of being rejected by women.”

SK: “Mine are all healed. (Through music.)”

OM: Ideal line-up featuring you and any band who would open for you?

AK: “I always feel bad when people have to open for us. I don’t want to do that to them.”

SK: “We would just let them go last. Then we’d help carry their gear.”

And there you have it!


Ominocity Bands To Look For In 2012

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by Chris Morin

Karpinka Bros.

Saskatoon’s answer to a hug that never stops, The Karpinka Bros. have already captured the love of an entire city by being the musical equivalent of warm longjohns and a stiff glass of rye. Rumour has it they are putting out an album on vinyl in 2012. I can’t wait for the interviews I am going to do with them…