Rugged Little Thing Is Saskatchewan's Answer to O Brother, Where Art Thou?
By Ezekiel McAdams
July 11 2017
Rugged Little Thing is a new bluegrass/folk band that has released their first self titled album and were one of the many bands that played the Taste Of Saskatchewan 2017 festival.
Ryan and Jille Shotton first met at Backwards Ness, an offshoot of the Ness Creek Music Festival, that takes place early September. They started jamming together, which led to the creation of their band, Rugged Little Thing as well as a relationship between the two. The band has been playing together for a year and a half. Jille proposed to Ryan onstage at the same festival, which they were also playing at. "We thought we would apply, just for fun, as tweeners, at the Bluegrass festival at the same site we met at and then we need a band name and we need to be a band now I guess. And that's when I proposed to him and we kept getting gigs so we just kept being a band" Jille said.
Despite living in Saskatoon, the couple rarely play here, not wanting to over saturate the city's music scene but also because their music plays better in small town, Saskatchewan. "We like to travel, we like the road, we almost prefer it. I like playing in Saskatoon but we can't play in Saskatoon every weekend." Ryan said. "I like playing in small towns because people appreciate you coming to them, instead of them always coming to the city." Jille added.
For Jille, she grew up with her family, taking her to Folk festivals. She became encapsulated with the banjo at the age of seven and has fallen in love with the instrument ever since. "It has literally changed my life. You walk into a room with a banjo and you're everyone's favourite person." she said.
The couple attribute the resurgence of bluegrass to the 2000 film, O Brother Where Art Thou? by the Coen Brothers "I think that movie is the catalyst that brought back bluegrass to a major audience. Ralph Stanley, said before he died, that that movie was the best thing to happen to bluegrass" Jille stated. "The thing I love about bluegrass is that it's very inclusive. Anybody can do it." Ryan added.
The duo is taking a bit of a break from touring this fall, aside from a small tour to Montreal later this summer, they're planning on releasing a new album in the fall, as well as doing a home roots tour early next year to B.C.
It is the time off that Jille is most looking forward to as it allows them to jam at the Clifftop Music Festival in West Virginia, a place she has wanted to go to desperately her whole life . "This is like, literally my Mecca. I get up every morning and see the Clifftop Music Festival, bow to it and say my prayers." Jille said. "It's our anniversary gift to each other. " Ryan added.
Their self titled album has eight tracks and can be best described as a garden bed of sunshine. Sickly sweet vocals with guitar and banjo accompaniment. The band draws a lot from Crooked Still or Allison Krauss and Union Station. Tracks such as "Black Eyed Suzie", "Jealous Hearted Me" and "Down In The Valley" are stand outs, mixing emotion with a story time feel with a musical backdrop. "Cherokee Shuffle" is a welcome, instrumental track that is perfect for putting on in the background or having an impromptu dance session.
Rugged Little Thing can be found on their website https://www.ruggedlittlething.com/ which includes tour schedule, album information. They can also be found on their Bandcamp https://ruggedlittlething.bandcamp.com/releases and Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/rugged-little-thing