One of the greatest features of the music industry is the ability for any band from any corner of the globe to achieve widespread notoriety and success. No matter where a band comes from or what kind of music it performs, it is possible for that band to garner attention and gain fans from across the globe. What makes music even more special is the ability for particular groups to succeed while defining their own genre.
In a way, the band Ten Strings and a Goat Skin is a perfect example. This trio doesn’t belt out soulful R&B, crank out Top 40 hits, or perform jaw-dropping opera numbers. What the group does achieve is genre-defining success with simple, energetic, traditional music that could come to be representative of its own genre. If you’ve never heard of Ten Strings and a Goat Skin you aren’t alone, but their story is one you should know nonetheless.
Defining musical genres in the 21 st century can be very difficult. So many artists will try their hand at various genres and often wind up finding their greatest success in a fusion of various genres. Ask industry experts and you’ll no doubt be told that Ten Strings and a Goat Skin produce a traditional sound that is a fusion of various cultural and folk sounds. With Irish, Francophone, and Maritime cultural backgrounds, the group pumps out a sound that is representative of those cultures while adding a little touch of modern rhythm.
Ask the members of the band about their music, and you’ll get a uniform answer about their view of the genre their music represents. In an interview with Kreol Magazine, the trio had the following to say about their genre:
“Well it’s sort of, it’s not easily definable I guess…it’s traditional music, all different types. Mostly we like to categorise it as traditional music that is associated with our backgrounds and our roots, so that means it is all over the place. It’s sort of a new interpretation of Irish, Scottish, English, French, Franco-Canadian, and Acadian…of course we do explore some Cajun music as well, and even go as far as some Swedish, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern stuff as well.”
Meet the Band
Very few bands in the music industry consist of complete strangers. In fact, most bands only succeed because the members are friends or family and share a creative vision for the style of music played. Such is the case with the trio of members in Ten Strings and a Goat Skin. Brothers Caleb and Rowan Gallant (both 20 years old) play in the group with close friend Jesse Periard.
The trio has known each other since the first grade. Today, the guys can joke about those early days when they never got along. By sixth grade the boyish animosity that existed had disappeared, and the boys became best friends. That friendship only grew stronger as all three attended the same junior and senior high school on Prince Edward Island in Canada.
As the boys have transitioned to life at university, maintaining their friendship and working as a band is more important than ever. Jesse recently completed his first year of college, where he is studying music. Rowan and Caleb have completed their second year of college, studying history and music business respectively.
Exploring Their Roots
All three boys are Canadian by birth, but their roots stretch across the globe through a variety of different cultures. Rowan and Caleb are natives of Prince Edward Island on Canada’s eastern coastline. Their parents speak English and have roots that encompass Irish, Scottish, and English heritage. However, their grandparents grew up in Canada at a time when French was more widely spoken.
Many of Prince Edward Island’s French speaking schools were closed down decades ago, but the Gallant brothers were among the first children on the island to go through new French language schools on the island during the early-21st century. Jesse’s story is a little different from his best friends.
Jesse grew up on Prince Edward Island but was born in Canada’s only remaining French province, Quebec. His father has French heritage while his mother is English, so he grew up speaking both languages at home and in school. The members of Ten Strings and a Goat Skin believe their varied cultural backgrounds allow them to appeal to a wider range of music lovers.
By incorporating the traditional and folk sounds of these various communities makes it easier for the group’s music to appeal to Francophone communities and wider English speaking communities across Canada and throughout North America.
The Band: Today and in the Future
The music of Ten Strings and a Goat Skin started humbly at a community fundraiser five years ago. The group performed their music for the first time in front of a crowd during a fundraiser to paint the local community’s Catholic Church. Prior to that day, the boys had played a variety of different music on their own, but began bringing their own views on music together to create a unique sound.
From the beginning, the popularity of the group’s music was confined Prince Edward Island. Over time their popularity has grown, both at home in Canada and across North America. Surprisingly, for such young artists, it is mostly older audiences that the music of Ten Strings and a Goat Skin appeals to. As the members of the band quipped about their fans, most of them are “no one we could date!”
For now, the group is happy with the direction of the band and the music. In 2013 the members of the group had their first chance to really get out on tour during the summer. All three boys are dedicated to their studies at university; collaborating during the school year and saving the summer for touring as a band. When it comes to a future direction, the group simply hopes to keep growing the identity of Ten Strings and a Goat Skin. Each stated that it would be their dream to simply be able to perform professionally as a career.
Developing a brand, cranking out albums, and topping charts don’t appear to be concerns for these young music enthusiasts. They simply enjoy exploring their respective musical roots and bringing that too their music. Whether they are concerned with fame and notoriety or not, international attention is on the horizon for the members of Ten Strings and a Goat Skin.
The group will start the summer of 2014 performing on Prince Edward Island and across Canada, but beginning in July they will stretch their legs and perform across the globe. Their travels start with a visit to Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA on 3 July. The group will also perform in Europe twice this year. The first appearance in France will be at Le Festival Interceltique in Lorient from 1 August to 10 August. The second appearance will come as part of the Autumn European Tour 2014. Between 19 September and 3 October, the group will visit Switzerland, France, and Belgium.