BOW VALLEY – The Ramblin’ Hey, Ho, Ha’s are a fun bar band with a knack for engaging with a live audience.
Lead singer Garry Gonis is an expert at reading the crowd and enticing people out of their seats. There is almost always dancing.
But, the unusual year that was 2020 has necessitated a different approach to playing music and reaching an audience.
“Before COVID, we used to do a lot of shows,” Gonis said. “I did about 125 [per year].”
Fifty of those gigs were with the band, where Gonis also plays rhythm guitar and harmonica, while the rest were as a duo with band lead guitarist Jake Posaki, or as a solo act.
The only gig the band has done since the original shutdown in March, however, was a Banff Library Listening Room Music Series show that was streamed live in August. In response to the pandemic restrictions, the band has opted to go into the studio to record some new material, and in December two of the songs were released on Spotify.
“'Big Red Barn' is a country rocker song,” Gonis said, “and it’s actually about the cowgirls and cowboys that are working in the Kananaskis area.”
The second track, "Whatcha’ Gonna Do," is a song inspired by the extracurricular activities band members engaged in over the summer, when gathering in groups was discouraged, but getting into the great outdoors in a socially distanced manner was encouraged by health authorities.
Gonis wrote both songs, and they will also be released as part of an upcoming album, called Rocky Mountain Moonrise. The larger collection of songs will be a reflection on what living through the pandemic has been like.
“They’re all pertinent to the time right now, so we’re going to capture them all on one record,” Gonis said.
For a group that thrives on live gigs, it has been a different kind of music making experience, but the new studio tracks will add to the 16 original songs the band mixes in with their repertoire of classic cover tunes they play live.
“We’ve got nine more songs to go to record. And we’re just going to do them piece-by-piece,” Gonis said. “The last album we recorded was just live right at artsPlace. One take, there you go. Boom.”
In addition to Gonis and Posaki, the current Ramblin’ Hey, Ho, Ha’s roster is Bruce McComb on bass, keyboards and vocals, Bojan Cosic on drums, percussion and vocals, and Bailey on mandolin and vocals. In order to adhere to social distancing guidelines, the songs were recorded as individual tracks that were mixed later, so the band wouldn’t have to get together in one room to play.
“So, we’re doing the studio thing with this, and taking a little more time with it, and Jake’s doing a great job of executing the engineering on it as well.”
More new tracks from the Ramblin’ Hey Ho Ha’s will be released as they become available, and Rocky Mountain Moonrise is expected later in the new year.