Rick Keene Music Scene – The Sultans of String; The Most Important Album Released This Year


Most of the world’s troubles would disappear with the absence of ignorance. So much hate brought on by judgment would evolve into love if a little time was set aside to learn and grow.

Sultans of String are doing their part by way of their new album Refuge. A collection of global tales through music and lyrics. Musicians from around the world take part in this breathtaking voyage.

Please have a listen below to my chat with Chris McCool and hear some fantastic music from the album ‘Refuge’.

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Rick Keene Music Scene – ‘Refuge’ Brings Peace Through Music

Music heals.

So much discoloration today is creating hatred where hatred should not exist. Lies and agendas via social media posts and American mainstream news is creating an atmosphere on the cusp of violence. Add the stress introduced by Covid 19 and the governments around the world – peace is what we need more than ever right now.

Enter The Sultans of String and their album Refuge

Thirty contributors from around the world along with the Toronto-based Sultans of String provide music for the soul in these times of trouble. An evening of listening to this eclectic genre – blurring masterpiece will ease the mind. Strength will be gained to be able to cope day by day no matter what troubles you may be facing .

Please listen below to information about the album Refuge, The Sultans of String and selected tracks from the award winning album.

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Sultans of Swing …er .. String; Make No Mistake

‘And Harry doesn’t mind if he doesn’t make the scene
He’s got a daytime job he’s doing alright
He can play honky tonk just like anything
Saving it up for Friday night
With the Sultans with the Sultans of Swing

Harry is actually Chris.

Chris has a few daytime gigs – not just one. Chris does not play honky tonk with his violin and on Friday night – the best folk band to see are the Sultans of String. Aside from that, the above lyrics from Dire Straits are correct.

Speaking from his home in Toronto, Chris McKhool explains the way he  felt upon learning of his band’s four nominations at the 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards. The band was nominated for ;  Instrumental Group of the Year, World Group of the Year and Pushing The Boundaries.  McKhool also nominated for Producer of the Year.

“Honestly I thought, if we won one – we’d be lucky.” Says Chris. ” Each category was judged by a different jury so if we won one award, I was sure the other jurors would not give us anymore since we already won one.”

Chris’ band, the Sultans of String, earned the award of World Group of the Year. They did not win any more awards and the ‘jury’ is still out as to why – so to speak. This did not stop Chris, his wife and 19 month -old-baby girl from enjoying themselves in St. Johns, New Brunswick, for the award ceremonies.

Founded in 2005, The Canadian Folk Music Awards recognize Canada’s outstanding writers, producers and performers of folk music, and the artists who are expanding the genre in innovative and exciting ways.

Until their creation, there existed no awards to celebrate the breadth and depth of folk music in Canada. Awards such as the Junos, East Coast Music Awards or the Western Canada Music Awards have only a few categories that apply to folk and roots music whereas the CFMAs celebrate the magnificent diversity of Canada’s musical heritage – from the musical traditions of Aboriginal Canada to Celtic, Acadian and traditional Quebecois styles, singer-songwriter music, blues, bluegrass, and the myriad of world music traditions brought to Canada by each new wave of immigration.

For Sultans of String, the awards are timely. The group needed other worlds to conquer and awards to win. After – all, they have won most of what they were capable and eligible to win. In the past 2 years alone, they’ve acquired a JUNO nomination, 1st place in the International Songwriting Competition (out of 15,000 entries), won this year’s Festivals & Events Ontario – Entertainer of The Year, and now the 2012 CFMA’s! Amazing for a band that started out with the meeting of two individuals who started to write songs because they had time to kill.

‘I met Kevin( Laliberté – the guitarist ) about ten years ago.” Explains Chris. ” I was doing this Jazz gig in North York and he was  playing guitar. We had a couple of hours to kill and as we were waiting around, Kevin was playing these great Rumba Flamenco guitar rhythms and they blew my mind. Amazingly enough – a lot of what was released on our first two discs, came out of that first meeting between us.”

Those two discs; ‘Luna’ and ‘Yalla Yalla!’ – immediately placed the ‘Sultans’ on the map. Both discs hitting # 1 on world/international music charts in Canada and ‘Yalla Yalla!’ earned a triple nomination at the  CFMAs. The group won  Instrumental Group of the Year in 2009.

“What I like about our new album -‘Move’, is that the whole band was included in the process. The first discs was myself and Kevin. This time it was great to see everyone so involved in the arrangement process.” Says McKhool. ” Chendy Leon is a genius when it comes to percussion. Our other guitarist, Eddie Paton, adds a whole other dimension to the sound and bass masters Drew Birston ( Chantal Kreviazuk) & David Woodhead (Stan Rogers, Loreena McKennitt) keep everything in focus. When Chendy is busy playing with Jesse Cook, Alberto Suarez steps in on percussion and Bassam Bishara is a master oud player from Palestine.”

Continues Chris …

“Chendy gives us such a diversified sound with which to work. He provides rhythm from all around the world. Arabic, Cuban and African to name a few. It is a group which sometimes operates as a quintet, quartet or trio and duo.” Explains Chris. ” It is always interesting.”

Chris also is one of the best kid entertainers in Canada. His newest cd – ‘Fiddlefire’ was nominated for a Juno award in 2009 and Chris has received numerous accreditations from parent groups around the country.

” If someone can put on earphones and listen to the Sultans’ music or mine and it can change their mood – then I’ll be happy.” Says Chris. ” That is why we create music – to make people smile. ”

And then the man he steps right up to the microphone
And says at last just as the time bell rings
‘Thank you goodnight now it’s time to go home’
And he makes it fast with one more thing
‘We are the Sultans of Swing String …’

Please stay tuned for part two of the interview as well as a review of the album ‘Move’

In the meantime …

Check out Chris’ childrens site!