The members of the band ONTARIANS don’t live in Toronto, although their sound isn’t far removed from the distinctive brand of country rock that ruled Toronto’s Queen Street West during the glory days of the Horseshoe Tavern, the Cameron House and the Rivoli.
Their turf is mostly the northern half of the province, from Collingwood to Sault Ste. Marie. But with the release of their debut album, The Greatest Short Story Never Told set for March 12, ONTARIANS are more than happy to represent the southern half too with well-crafted songs played by musicians with genuine chemistry.
It’s taken ONTARIANS two years to get to this point (2020 restrictions notwithstanding), with the seeds for the project planted in 2018 when roots rock scene veterans Frank Deresti and Craig Smith decided to try writing some songs together. It soon led Frank to make regular trips from Sault Ste. Marie to Craig’s studio near Collingwood where the pair laid down tracks and sent them off to their keyboardist Jay Stiles in Austin, Texas to add his parts. Chris Johns later overdubbed some drums, before Craig’s painstaking mixes made everything gel into one seamless package.
“This was a true collaborative effort for Craig, Jay and myself,” Frank says. “Between glasses of Pernod, car troubles and lots of laughter we wrote songs about various stages of life we found ourselves in—past, present, and a hypothetical future. When Craig and I sat down to write with a clear goal in mind, it was like a reservoir of creativity was released that had been building up for a long time.”
That flood resulted in standout songs such as “Forest For The Trees,” the only one written and recorded with all three principles together in the same room, “Photographs & Epitaphs,” the first one written for the project, stemming from its prophetic opening line, “Some songs will write themselves…,” and first single “Time,” a slice of classic alt-country in the spirit of Neil Young, The Band, and early Wilco. With the release of The Greatest Short Story Never Told, ONTARIANS are fully prepared to invigorate the roots rock world with their timeless sound.
Click the Roots Music Canada logo to watch the video for “Time.”