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A Conversation With Kevin Harvey Of Durham County Poets



Ken Wallis chats with Kevin Harvey of the Durham County Poets about their new release 'Out Of The Woods' for the radio show BluesSource Canada.


The Durham County poets are frequently branded as a blues band, but their music magically crosses over numerous boundaries. When you catch them live, you’re in for quite a treat. They’re a solid five-piece ensemble that knows how to mesh for a new album that is a joy to the ears. The group features Kevin Harvey (lead vocals), David Whyte (electric and acoustic guitars, vocals), Neil Elsmore (acoustic guitar, vocals), Carl Rufh (triple bass, that’s a double bass and a regular bass, trombone, vocals), and Rob Couture (drums, percussion).


The following are edited transcriptions from the radio interview.




Ken Wallis

Durham County Poets - they have a new album out and to steal a title from one of the songs on the album, they are definitely Back At The Groove Shack. It's a great album. It is entitled 'Out Of The Woods' and to tell us all about it is lead singer Kevin Harvey.


Kevin thanks for coming on the show.


Kevin Harvey

Great to be here Ken thank you for having us.


Ken Wallis

So, tell us first of all, how did the group get their name?


Kevin Harvey

My wife and I, we're from Southwest Quebec and basically our home base is Ormstown and it's a little small village in Southwest Quebec, a farming community. My wife grew up in in Rockburn and when she was young her dad used to pick her up and say, hey come on kids we're going into Durham. Now Ormstown was called Durham a hundred plus years ago, so you know how old habits die hard. This is like going back to the late 60s early 70s whatever and so we thought we need to put the word Durham in there somewhere. At that time, we were more of a folk band and everybody in the band writes. We're all songwriters so we came up with Durham County Poets.


Ken Wallis

And why the title 'Out Of The Woods' ?


Kevin Harvey

That was two fold. Our guitar player Neil said we should title the album 'Out Of The Woods'. I said it’s a good theme for the pandemic. Mind you when we came up with that title that was a year and a half ago thinking for sure by the time the album's out, we'll be out of the woods. Also, when the idea came out, I thought of my mom, and she used to use language like that. She’d say out of the woods, it'll be okay and stop your whining and stop you complaining and blah blah blah. That was the driving force behind that song 'Out Of The Woods'.


Ken Wallis

It's quite an uplifting song and I think the whole album is like that. For folks who haven't had a chance to hear it yet, how would you describe the album ?


Kevin Harvey

A lot of the songs that I wrote are paying homage to the old school R&B kind of sound of I guess the early 60s. During Covid I was listening to a lot of music and watching videos and really got enamoured with that sound and I wanted to not emulate it or copy it, but I wanted to incorporate it. There’s still some of that blues and some of that folk jazzy kind of feel but that's where we wanted to lean towards.


Ken Wallis

And how does the band go about writing the songs ? I understand a lot of the band is involved.


Kevin Harvey

We're equal basically, equal partners. For the lyrics I came up with a you know a third and David a third, and Neil a third. Musically we just all put our parts in there. One guy will come with a song, present a song and say how about we do this ? Or how about we add that ? It just takes on a life of its own. Having been doing this now for just over a decade with the guys I think we're a solid writing team in that sense. If I could leave anything behind as to what we are about I would say hopefully it's our songwriting and our performances are strong.


Ken Wallis

Mean Old Dog is my favourite tune on the album. I really like that one. Do you have a favourite or are they all equal in your mind ?


Kevin Harvey

That's a good question. I like Mean Old Dog a lot as well. That's a David song as far as driving and when we play it live it gets a really good reaction. At the concerts that we've been doing the album launches, we have this ebb and flow of the sets. For me personally it would be What We Got Going On. It’s the most personal one for me. It's a love song and those are always the hardest ones to write.


Ken Wallis

I caught you guys a couple years ago at The Southside Shuffle and boy it looks like you guys really enjoy being on stage.


Kevin Harvey

Thoroughly, very much so. We feel the band's getting tighter and tighter so we’re looking forward to more performances.


Ken Wallis

What's your feeling about the state of the music industry right now ?


Kevin Harvey

I just finished reading another article this morning on the state of the music industry for new upcoming artists and apparently the trend now is people are just listening to older music and less and less more likely to tune into new artists. I hear a lot of people my age saying ah new music sucks. And I’m, well do you mean new music sucks ? Do you mean pop radio ? Or define what you mean. And I said in a comment this morning, but for independent radio hosts like yourself and the countless ones of you around the globe, and Canada and the U.S., it's a blessing for artists like us because otherwise nobody would be listening right ? We're certainly not going to get on mainstream radio anytime soon that's for sure.


Ken Wallis

Again, the album is entitled Out Of The Woods and Kevin where can fans get a hold of the album ?


Kevin Harvey

Well, they can go on our website www.Durhamcountypoets.com or come to our shows and check us out. Check out our schedule.


Ken Wallis

I’ll be looking forward to seeing you guys live again because I really enjoy your performances and it's been great chatting with you Kevin.


Kevin Harvey

Well thank you and thanks for the music play.




Website: durhamcountypoets.com/home

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DurhamCountyPoets

Twitter: twitter.com/DCPoets

Instagram: www.instagram.com/durhamcountypoets/