Kelowna’s Kentucky Eileen looks to soothe souls with distinct folk music

Click to play video 'Kentucky Eileen cements itself in Okanagan music history' Kentucky Eileen cements itself in Okanagan music history
Bluegrass Folk quartet, Kentucky Eileen, built from established musicians who have come together to create a B.C. folk super-group has been brewed to perfection in the Okanagan.  – Nov 30, 2019

Well-known names in the Okanagan music scene have come together to create a bluegrass folk quartet that has since been regarded as a B.C. folk super-group.

Lined up along a stage to highlight each of the bandmate’s unique skillset, an ode to bands who raised folk music up and to build a wall of music around their audience, cradling them with their blended sound.

“We are believers in the therapy of music,” said Dan Tait, vocals, percussion, bassist and harmonica. “We are really hoping to draw attention to the music itself and to the words in the music. We want these songs to carry on in people’s hearts and in their minds.”

Lacing together four artists — Tait, Mitchell Howanyk, Joshua Smith and Samuel Balson — to create what the band calls “distinctly B.C. folk music” was an easy task. Smith brought his lyrics to the men and they helped it soar to new heights, crafting their distinctive sound.

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“When Josh (Smith) brought this to me we were doing these one-off gigs,” said Howanyk, vocals and violin.

“I loved the songwriting, what a dream to step into what I think he had, 18 songs to get us going. Everything from then on has been natural and we realized we had something special.”

A single word strung together between their jovial guitar chords, sultry violin lines and the thumping heartbeat of an old suitcase turned into a kick drum, is one thing that most people have in common, hope.

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“In my writing, there is always a thread of hope in all of my songs. Whether they are feel-good and happy or even some of the more serious songs on the EPs there is still some hope in there,” said Smith, vocals and guitar.

Two years and four music videos later, the band is now preparing to release their first two EPs that will be pressed into vinyl in the new year, adding their name to the flourishing music scene in the Okanagan. And many of the songs were recorded live off the floor of an old barn, that was soundproofed with old rugs.

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Kentucky Eileen will be performing in Kelowna Dec. 28 at Kettle River Brewing, Jan. 11 at the Mary Irwin Theatre and Jan. 26 at BNA. For more information about the band, their vinyl and soon to be released singles visit