Full steam ahead for A Fellow Ship

In conversation with the local folk-funk band
ARTS_a-fellow-ship_courtesy-of-Instagram @leah.chan - A Fellow Ship rgb

Those who circulate in Toronto’s local music venues may recognize A Fellow Ship, the self-described folk-funk band who have been rocking venues like the Horseshoe Tavern, Silver Dollar Room, The Central, and Mod Club Theatre.

Forming close to four years ago, the band was founded in high school by a group of friends who shared a common love of dancing, singing, and having fun. Their formation began with a jam session, said lead vocalist Forest Van Winkle. “We were hanging out, playing covers, making music, and it just snowballed,” he added.

The band now consists of eight members: guitarist and lead vocalist Joe Dent; lead vocalist Forest Van Winkle; guitarist, mandolinist, and vocalist Jack Stone; pianist Teddy Liptay; bassist Tristan Schultz; drummer Ryan Johnston; trumpet player Austin Jones; and the newest member, saxophonist John Nicholson.

Schultz, Johnston, and Jones are alumni of U of T’s jazz program, and Nicholson is currently completing his master’s degree here.

A Fellow Ship recently opened up for the festival-favourite and critically acclaimed band Magic Giant for the third time.

The group can rest easy knowing that the energetic performance mentality they learned firsthand from Magic Giant was on full display at their show at Mod Club on February 13. They dominated the stage, to the delight of the several hundred people in attendance. The band played new music off their EP The Black Sheep, teased unreleased music, and acknowledged the many friendly faces in the crowd and the support they’ve received.

Relying on a combination of warm string instruments and soul-pleasing brass, the band gave listeners an excellent musical experience and a visual treat of a performance. Seeming extremely comfortable, the band engaged with the crowd, posed for pictures, made jokes, and created a dancing frenzy.

Despite their captivating live set, they are still looking for ways to improve. “We’re still at the point where we’re not making a living off of this,” said Dent. “We hope to be one day, but it’s a long journey. We want to tour more, release more music, and grow a bigger and bigger following, until it is something tangible. For now, we’re all having a blast.”

They’re still hard at work looking for gigs and venues, and they hope to have a follow- up to their first tour in September last year, when they played shows in Ottawa, Montréal, and Halifax.

They also claim to be heading back into the studio soon, and they’re are looking to release a double single sometime this summer that will capture their onstage energy.

“We’re trying to do a lot, everyone is trying to do a side hustle, but everyone is trying to make the most of this,” said Van Winkle.

A Fellow Ship will perform March 15 at the Horseshoe Tavern.

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