By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Feb. 11, 2012.
With its earthy, bluesy, folk music, Tantalus Pass, a new music band in town, holds out the promise of the mountain after which it is named.
Like Tantalus on sunny days, Tantalus Pass can pierce your sorrows with original songs and bring in a little sunshine with zesty, folk music.
Squamish residents Doug Smith, Nickolai Gurda, Zack deJong, and Rita Kyle have been playing together as the Tantalus Pass for the past 13 months.
This new addition to the Squamish music scene would be no news for a regular visitor to Brackendale Art Gallery or to Howe Sound Brew Pub, where the band got their first start last February.
The band can trace its roots to a block party in Garibaldi Highlands.
When a guest at the party asked if someone could sing Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show, Doug Smith and Nickolai Gurda raised their hands.
Later, they met Rita Kyle at the Sea to Sky Fiddle group, who joined them for Cam Salay’s Open Mic night at the Howe Sound Brew Pub in downtown Squamish.
A hockey game had just finished, and a crowd of 80 people filled the pub.
“That show was quite well received,” Doug Smith says.
Impressed by this local talent, the brew pub offered them a main act on Saturday nights.
“That was when things started to get real for us,” Rita Kyle says.
In March, they were joined by Zack deJong, and the four performed as Tantalus Pass in Brackendale Art Gallery last March.
That performance, like the one at the brew pub, was enjoyed immensely by an audience that sang and danced as the group belted out original numbers written by Smith and deJong.
“I felt the magic that day with the response of the audience,” Smith says.
The acceptance spurred them to improve upon their songs and music.
“We felt so stoked with that performance,” Gurda says.
If there is a genre of music for Tantalus Pass, it would be Americana, with roots and traditional bluesy, rhythmic folk.
“It’s a little bit of everything. We have brought songs that we loved, and it’s worked quite well,” Smith says.
They play an assortment of instruments, from guitar and fiddle to djembe and harmonica.
They have a repertory of 12 original songs that is expanding as each member brings new melodies to the table.
‘Miles to go’, a song written by deJong, and ‘This train’, written by Dough Smith have received a lot of love from the audience.
The group is hoping to release its first album in May. They are also hoping to play at music festivals across the province, including at Live at Squamish.
“We have gotten so much better listening to each other, and adding harmonies,” Gurda says.
“We love playing together.”