New album Foothills out now
Robbie Bankes sets the bar high with his debut LP Foothills (Self Released). Nominated for Young Performer of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, the Nordic Canadiana songwriter and scholar of folk music spends half his time in his native Calgary, Alberta and the other in Rauland, Norway where he studies folk music at the University of South East Norway. He carries with him a mature musical voice in every sense. With a deep respect and understanding of musical traditions, his modern approach combines the lushness of Fleet Foxes and a haunting delivery reminiscent of Sam Amidon, while achieving a distinct sound rarely found on first recordings
"Stunningly crafted, poetic lyrics, emotion-rich, evocative vocals"
"This may be one of best debut albums I’ve heard"
"This is an artist with a big heart, and even bigger potential"
Robbie Bankes was born and raised in Calgary, Canada, and is currently living in Rauland, Norway where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Folk Music at the University of Telemark. He lives in a charming old cabin on Lake Totak, and works on a nearby goat farm. He plays the guitar, the banjo, the fiddle, and recently bought an accordion. The preferred guitar is a beautiful 1946 Martin Single O – mahogany, with the finish stripped off. His fiddle is outfitted with steel strings. It would be hard to describe the man without certain sentimentality – his approach to music has definite roots in Romanticism. He finds solace in the wilderness, and inspiration in the receding past. He’s a traditional singer, influenced by a variety of folk genres. Tunes are unearthed through old ballads found in libraries or used bookstores, and his own compositions are sparse and poetic.
Music is, for Robbie, a social pursuit. This includes walking home in Norway and being invited into a neighbour’s house to have a beer and play the fiddle, or busking across Europe and using music as a means to meet new people and find a place to sleep in a new city. Music is meant to bring friends and family together for communal singing, dancing, and playing. Anyone that has had the pleasure of finding themselves at one of the intimate house-shows Robbie’s played over the years knows this isn’t just a brooding nostalgia.
What more can be said? Robbie’s favourite spice is cumin, his favourite Beatle George, and his favourite tree larch – imagine Lake O’Hara, late September. His first kiss came when he was 15 years old, and he first picked up a guitar at the age of 11; the reader is invited to draw his or her own conclusions here about love and passion. Robbie recently went skinny-dipping with a much admired and accomplished accordion player – this bit of gossip is inserted with a tinge of authorial jealously… the charms of living in rural Norway.
At the ripe age of 20, Robbie’s musical pursuits are resolute. He has hosted various radio programs on Calgary’s CJSW 90.9FM. He has played shows across western Canada and Europe. His first release, Through February Snow, is a collection of rough tracks that include his own pensive folk songs as well as reimagined traditional tunes. In 2015, he was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award.
- Matt Gigg, January 2016.