The Posse’s Comin’

Bob Bossin

The Old Folksinger

Wednesday, September 11 2019

A dozen years ago, as he neared 60, Pete Sutherland was ready to retire. As one of the most distinguished folk musicians in the U.S., Pete had been on the road across America and Europe for decades; now it was time to stay put in Monkton Boro, Vermont, population 1900. He would still produce, play locally, teach some. Then he met Oliver Scanlon. Oliver was 10 years old. “I had never heard someone take to the fiddle like that,” says Sutherland. “The Force, as they say, was with him.” Pete became Oliver’s teacher and mentor. 

He started bringing his young protégé up on stage with him.

Meanwhile, 40 miles up the road in Vermont’s capitol, Burlington (population 42,000), Tristan Henderson was playing guitar in a punk band – until he discovered traditional Appalachian fiddle and banjo music. He unplugged and headed down the road to Monkton to meet the master. Pete, Tristan and Oliver began to play together. Vermonters loved it, Pete’s Posse was born, and Pete’s retirement was out the window. 

A half-dozen records later, after concerts from California to Scotland’s Shetland Folk Festival, the Posse are coming to Gabriola for a show at the Roxy, Monday September 23, at 7:30.

To say Pete’s Posse is at the forefront of Old Time American music is a misstatement; they are, but they are much more: they improvise with the fluidity of jazz, arrange and orchestrate like they were classically trained (which they were), play a dozen instruments, and write some first-rate songs, serious and funny. I’ve been singing Sutherland songs for years.

But hearing is believing. There is lots of the Posse’s music at or on YouTube.

Tickets at North Road Sports, $20. Or from me,