At long last, Stringband is on CD. The Indispensable Stringband is a 46-song, box-set retrospective of Stringband’s music, 1972-2002
The collection contains all of Stringband’s greatest hits, plus never-before-released cuts, and some new pieces. TIS also includes a 50-page history of Stringband’s Life and Times by Gary Cristall.
Gary Cristall, then artistic director of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, wrote of Stringband (in 1991): "[Stringband] opened the door to a glorious chapter in the cultural history of this country. They proved there was an enormous amount of music worth playing in Canada. They proved musicians could actually make a living without leaving the country. They paved the way for artists like Stan Rogers, Connie Kaldor and dozens of others and helped create a vibrant alternative acoustic music scene that featured songs which actually had something to say... While various artists have covered one or another aspect of the ground that Stringband trod, no group has covered the waterfront in the way they did."
Stringband recorded 7 albums, two of which, The Old Masters and Across Russia By Stage, are still available. We played, over the years, in the US, UK, USSR, Europe, Japan, Mexico and Newfoundland. The list of musicians who sat in or recorded with us is too long to recite, though it includes Nancy Ahern, Daniel Lanois, Stan Rogers, Kieran Overs and Jane Fair. The songs we made (sort of) famous include Dief Will Be the Chief Again, The Maple Leaf Dog, I Don't Sleep with Strangers Anymore, La jeune mariee, Tugboats, Daddy Was a Ballplayer, All the Horses Running, Lunenburg Concerto and Show Us the Length.
Apart from a brief 20th anniversary re-union tour in 1991, Stringband played its last gig in 1986. By then we lived in different parts of the country and all had individual projects we wanted to pursue. (Calvin formed The Romaniacs, Marie-Lynn wrote and performed Beautiful Deeds/de beaux gestes and I wrote and performed Bossin's Home Remedy for Nuclear War.) By that time, as well, folk venues were getting scarcer and so were government gigs and grants - a significant factor in a country where cities, and the venues they contain, are literally few and far between. So, after fifteen years, we hung up the bow. A defeat in some ways. On the other hand, just for a Canadian band to reach 15 is no mean feat; to do so playing folk music (and not playing bars) is as rare as, well, Stringband was.