Shred Kelly's fun videos help put Fernie on the musical map

It's one of the bands performing online at this month's Mission Folk Music Festival

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      You can learn a lot about Shred Kelly from the band's music videos.

      A good starting point is the clip for "Take Me Home", an upbeat track off the band's latest album, Like a Rising Sun. It's set entirely on the front porch of frontman Tim Newton's home in the small ski town of Fernie, B.C., and through time-lapse photography depicts him hanging out and jamming with band members—including his wife, Shred Kelly singer-keyboardist Sage McBride, who he's shown dancing with and romancing in the dark.

      The days and months pass, and before long their wee daughter Mercy shows up. She was actually born right when Shred Kelly started recording the album.

      "We put this record out during the pandemic," says Newton, on the line from that clip's cozy-looking abode, "so we decided to shoot kind of a simple video that didn't require a big crew and all that. We came up with the concept of a time-lapse, 'life is racing by' kinda thing, like the lyrics suggest. I'm the main character with my wife Sage and we're sort of in and out of all these daily life situations."

      One thing you definitely pick up about Shred Kelly from their videos is the fact that, as a band, they don't take themselves too seriously. That's abundantly clear by the wacky clip for another new track, "Roman Candle Eyes", which sees the band members running around Fernie in all manner of crazy costumes, with all types of nutty props. They shot the video in two days, getting a lot of strange looks from the townsfolk.

      "The song is literally about the moment my daughter was born," says Newton, "and looking into her eyes for the first time, and having this explosive revelation of what life is and the love for this child. So I went, 'Why don't we start the video off like that?' I'm in the delivery room and I faint and I'm cast into this crazy dream world that is really fun."

      Making Shred Kelly music videos isn't all fun 'n' games and goofiness, though. It can require a lot of time and work, too, as seen in the older clip for "Sing to the Night". Filmed at the Fernie Alpine Resort, it starts off with Newton strolling along a snowy path with his ski boots on before stepping into a pair of skis and setting off down a hill, where he's joined by other skiiers soaring off ramps and various limber folks twirling hula hoops and performing cartwheels. Most impressive is the fact that the video's entire four minutes and 50 seconds were shot in one continuous take.

      "That was very much a challenge," admits Newton. "You know, on paper, when we were trying to plan that video, it almost seemed impossible, really. How is this going to happen? But the big thing that saved it all was our videographer Dylan Siggers. He normally shoots ski films, and so he's really good at skiing backwards with a video camera in his hand. And when we approached him with that concept he said, 'Oh yeah, no problem, I could do that.' "

      All the nifty videos in the world wouldn't amount to much if there wasn't some worthy music involved as well, and Shred Kelly has that covered. Their energetic, banjo-driven folk-rock has been winning over fans all across Canada, and has also taken them to Europe and Australia. Like A Rising Sun is the band's fifth album in its 12-year existence, and Newton says it's somewhat of a progression over the previous discs.

      "This one is different in a bunch of ways," he explains. "Normally I've been writing songs sort of inspired by different things around my life here in Fernie, but on this record I had all kinds of explosive life events happen to me all at once. My daughter was born in March and then my father passed away in April, so within a month that all happened, right when we starting the writing process of this record.

      "So this is probably the most honest songwriting that I've ever done, and I just mean honest in that I had a clear direction of what my emotions were, and what I needed to write about."

      As well as main singer-songwriters Newton and McBride, the current lineup of Shred Kelly includes guitarist Ty West, bassist Ric Behan, and drummer Ryan Mildenberger. The music the quintet produces brings to mind Spirit of the West, though perhaps a little less Celtic and a lot more poppy.

      "That's a compliment," replies Newton, "thank you. And it's funny you say that, because Spirit of the West were honoured at the BreakOut West [Music Festival and Conference] a couple of years ago, and we were invited to actually cover 'Home for a Rest' at the award ceremony. So we got to play that very iconic song in front of the band, and I didn't even know the band was gonna be there. It was one of my career highlights for sure."