With Nova Scotia almost being an island, it is no surprise that the nautical tradition is a very strong and important one for the province. As such, music that gives expression to this way of life is very popular. Throughout the province and the provincial capital of Halifax, in particular, there are a multitude of establishments that play this music. To fill this need, there are a large number of bands that exist. Tinker’s Damn is one such group. Their follow-up CD, Chebucto Town shows a surprising amount of original lyrics in a music field that generally has a large number of standards that are played by just about everyone that delves into the traditional Celtic music scene.
Tinker’s Damn began in 1996. The trio of David Coyle, Brian Smeltzer, and Larry Rankin formed to start a group that, by their own admission, “leaves the idea of “updating” traditional Irish and Maritime music to young groups….and mainly targets the 40+ demographic, stressing a familiar presentation of strong vocals and clear lyrics.” In 1998, they released their debut CD, the six song EP Half Way Home that was accepted within the Celtic music scene in Nova Scotia. Tinker’s Damn continued to make the rounds of the pub and bar circuit in Nova Scotia, making new fans to their brand of music, which stressed vocals with instrumentation as the supporting feature. In 2000, they released Chebucto Town, in part to capitalize on the arrival of a flotilla of Tall Ships in Halifax.
Chebucto Town has a number of tunes that give a real taste of what it must have been like to be on the seas at the time when Halifax was home to ships propelled by wind and sail. The majority of these songs do that most important element of a good song: tell a story. One particularly strong song is ‘North Atlantic Run’. This tells the story of the convoys that left Halifax to the United Kingdom during the Second World War. It gives a true sense of what it must have been like to endure the dangers that faced the Allied sailors that ran German U-boats and other obstacles. All of the songs but three were written by David Coyle, who has the knack of writing material that is very hard to distinguish from old originals. The instrumentation provided by the trio is a perfect fit to the lyrics. Nothing too flashy, but add to the songs as a whole. The group is able to successfully fulfill their initial desire.
Chebucto Town is the kind of CD that you want to have playing in the background at a traditional Maritime party. It is the kind that shows the sea-faring heritage of Nova Scotia in the best possible musical way. Chebucto Town is a good follow-up for Tinker’s Damn and shows that they can hold their own against the large number of Celtic-themed performers on the east coast.