Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

They've been brothers for more than 25 years, but Dave and Joey Landreth just started to make music together

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The Winnipeg blues-rock band known as the Bros. Landreth is a rare example of what happens when a quarter-century engagement is followed by a shotgun wedding.

For more than 25 years, brothers Dave and Joey Landreth shared the same Winnipeg musical family but only rarely played in bands together.

As kids, they fooled around in groups with names like Hockey Mom and Team Landreth. But when the time came to tour and record as adult sidemen, each brother went his separate way.

Younger brother Joey played guitar for Portage la Prairie country band Doc Walker, Alberta's Emerson Drive and Winnipeg singer-songwriter Steve Bell, among other artists. Older brother Dave played bass for the likes of indie-pop duo Imaginary Cities and guitarist Romi Mayes.

And then, one day, last September, in the midst of one tour or another, Joey picked up the phone, called up his brother Dave and asked him to form a band.

Within a matter of months, they had songs, a recording session and a collaboration that was probably a matter of predestination, given they are the progeny of veteran Winnipeg songwriter and sideman Wally Landreth.

"It sounds sort of crazy now, but it never came up," says Dave Landreth, 27, referring the prospect of a creative project with 26-year-old sibling Dave, who's sitting next to him in an Exchange District coffee spot.

The brothers' September conversation yielded a band name in October and a recording session in February -- with only six songs in the can at the time.

The rest were completed over the course of recordings at engineer Don Benedictson's studio in the rolling hills near Roseisle, where Doc Walker's Murray Pulver played the role of producer.

The resulting album, Let It Lie, is a collection of mostly midtempo blues-rock compositions, all but one of which are autobiographical meditations on Joey Landreth's personal life. The title track, for example, is a rumination on a relationship that exceeded its best-before date.

"That's kind of how I write. I'm a sappy (expletive) that way. I have to externalize something before I get over it," Joey says.

The Bros. Landreth, which also includes drummer Ryan Voth and Alex Campbell on keys, intended to make what Joey describes as a "kick-ass" sort of album. But when he sat down to write, more introspective, midtempo music emerged. Based on Pulver's advice, he decided to go with the flow.

While the sound that emerged isn't country, it is informed by a new-country esthetic that seeped in from Joey's other projects. Both he and Dave say they can't help but be influenced by the artists who employ them as sidemen.

At the same time, this sort of work forces musicians to be versatile.

"Being the sidemen that we are, playing everything from bar mitzvahs to the stadium, we can play a number of different styles," Dave says. "But we're not a Cuban dance band."

A more tangible country element is the band's approach to touring. Instead of just hitting up the largest Canadian cities, the Bros. Landreth try to visit smaller communities that don't always appear on itineraries.

After an album-launch show Sept. 5 at the West End Cultural Centre, the band has tour stops in Boissevain, Pincher Creek, Alta., and the tiny northwestern Ontario community of Devlin. They've also had great experiences in Manitoba towns such as Onanole and Darlingford.

"We've discovered a huge market in rural and southern Manitoba that is so good to us," Dave says. "I don't think people (in Winnipeg) realize how many cool and interesting smaller communities are out there.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 4, 2013 c1

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Updated on Thursday, September 5, 2013 at 6:59 AM CDT: Adds photo, changes headline, adds audio

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