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Folk, bluegrass group 'The Bills' coming to DL

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The Historic Holmes Theatre in Detroit Lakes will present one of Canada's best up and coming bands.

The Bills will make their Minnesota debut on Thursday, April 12 at 8 p.m.

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The group was recently named "Entertainers of the Year" at the Western Canadian Music Awards.

This extraordinary quintet is renowned among folk, country and bluegrass music fans of all ages for their "instrumental virtuosity, lush vocal arrangements, exuberant live performances, evocative songwriting, and refreshingly innovative interpretations of traditional tunes," from around the globe, according to a news release.

In 2004, with the release of their well-received third CD, "Let 'Em Run," The Bills secured their place as one of the most inventive and talented acts on the North American and Western European folk music scene.

"Let 'Em Run" has generated enormous praise from critics and fans alike, and was nominated for the 2005 Canadian JUNO award for Roots/Traditional Album of the Year.

The Bills have forged a musical style all their own that transcends musical boundaries and defies simple categorization.

"We call the music global acoustic roots music," said guitarist and lead vocalist Chris Frye, attempting to explain the group's sound in a telephone interview Monday afternoon. "It's a catch-all phrase we use -- our music encompasses everything from bluegrass influences to eastern European gypsy music to Brazilian choro music and everything in between.

"We write a lot of our own songs, and we also try to infuse them with a real taste of where we come from, which is the west coast of Canada -- Victoria, British Columbia," he continued. "That's where the band was founded, and that's where most of us still live."

With three main writers in the band, The Bills have developed a growing repertoire of songs.

Since forming in 1996, the group has toured theaters and festivals from Copenhagen to California.

"We've been together 11 years -- 11 great years," Frye noted. "Only a couple of the band members knew each other before ... Victoria is not a huge city, but it has a rich music scene, so people with similar (musical) interests tend to find each other."

The group's members all had a similar interest in making "very open, acoustic music, and wanted to explore music from around the world," he added.

"The past six years have been particularly busy with touring, in North America and Europe."

Their April 12 concert in Detroit Lakes will, however, mark their Minnesota debut, Frye added.

"This is going to be our first performance ever in Minnesota, so we're pumped about that," he continued.

The group isn't completely unfamiliar with the land of 10,000 lakes, however. Their record label, Red House Records, is based in the Twin Cities, Frye noted.

"They're a smaller, but well-respected roots label," he said, adding, "They're fantastic to work with."

Whether entertaining an intimate theater audience or a festival crowd of 10,000, these five gifted multi-instrumentalists are masters at bridging the gulf between stage and audience.

"We take our listeners on a real musical ride," Frye said, adding that a typical Bills show consists of two 45-minute sets, with an intermission.

But the group also incorporates some beautiful harmonies into its performances, he added. "We do about half vocal, and half instrumental... The show is very exciting, high-energy music."

Tickets for the 8 p.m. show on Thursday, April 12 are $16 for adults, $8 for students. To purchase, call the Historic Holmes Theatre Box Office at 218-844-SHOW or go online to the Web site, www.dlccc.org. For more information on The Bills and to see their latest music video, log on to www.thebills.ca.

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Vicki Gerdes
Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers and editor of MN Boomers magazine for the past 13 years. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.
(218) 847-3151
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