Thursday, Nov. 28, at 2 p.m.
St. Albert Community Hall
17 Perron St.
Tickets: From $15. Call 780-3459-1542
A trio of national park wardens will give St. Albert a taste of mountain life with original songs inspired from the land they’ve protected and nurtured for decades.
Retired park ranger Bradley Bischoff and Scott Ward, along with founding member Ray Schmidt currently posted in Rogers Pass, B.C., are the voices behind The Wardens.
Blending folk, roots and western styles, this gung-ho trio rides into the city to perform a special Arden Theatre concert programmed at St. Albert Community Hall on Thursday, Nov. 28.
The Wardens don’t just sing about the beautiful yet treacherous landscape. They are bred to it with all its delicately balanced nuances and intricacies.
Boasting about 70 years shared experience, the trio shares a unique knowledge of mountain culture – a.k.a. tranquilizing grizzlies, rescuing stranded hikers, patrolling in solitude for weeks and enduring lonely nights on the trail.
The trio has released three albums and is working on a fourth as of yet untitled CD due to hit the market in 2020. Juno Award-winning Russell Broom, a Calgary-based engineer/producer who has worked with everybody from Sam Roberts to Jann Arden, stickhandles the project.
“We were looking to move our music along and experience it with a different producer,” said Bischoff. “Russell is so highly respected. He’s worked with Ian Tyson and Corb Lund, two guitar heroes. We were looking to work with true western influences.”
Bischoff adds the trio’s latest project will reflect the rugged ranger trade and pristine wilderness in a relatively stripped down way.
“The songwriting and lyrics are at the top of production. The songs are so cinematic they’ll be recognized well about the instrumentation.”
Up to now, their second full-length album Sleeping Buffalo, released in May 2017, is the most established. It features 12 songs about mountain legends, tragedy, the regeneration of a species and the landscape they love.
At St. Albert’s concert, The Wardens plan to perform crowd favourites. But they’re equally excited to share new tunes sung straight from the heart.
“There’s Shining Mountains. It’s about a great day in the backcountry working in a natural area. We feel very privileged to be working as wardens.”
And then there’s The Last Cowboy in the Outfit, a song Bischoff wrote when he retired and hung up his spurs.
“Warden service is more than a job. It’s a lifestyle, a way of life. You come to be unbelievably connected to each other. We share a strong camaraderie and when I retired I went through separation anxiety. But I’m going strong and I still have my foot in the game.”
Another tune is dedicated to rescue leader Tim Auger, a public safety warden who regularly risked his life to assist others.
“This song pays homage to him. He did thousands of rescues and saved hundreds of people from peril.”
As a way to lend an intriguing backdrop to the songs, The Wardens also run a slideshow of the craggy landscape they’ve covered.
Joining the trio is world-class fiddler Scott Duncan. Raised in Calgary, Duncan plays multiple genres from Celtic fiddling, bluegrass, folk and classical to swing, counry, Cajun and French Canadian regional styles.
“It’s going to be a one-of-a-kind concert. Between the songs, we’re going to tell some mesmerizing stories.”