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Dala to Showcase Acoustic Harmony
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Saturday, March 19, 2022
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

It wasn’t unusual for Dala to perform as many as 300 concerts a year with a stretch of 60 concerts in 60 days before the pandemic.

Then the world stopped, or so it seemed.

Amanda Walther retreated home, lavishing her attention on her son, now 7. And she composed a  soundtrack of 16 original songs  for Isabel del Rosal’s new film “Walk With Me,” a story about how fear  can prevent people from taking the leap towards love.

Sheila Carabine went back to school, nourishing her love of poetry as she earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in English at the University of Toronto. And she and her bandmate Brian MacMillan, better known as Kennedy Road, released a debut album with 11 original songs including the fan favorite “Oh Darlin’ Don’t You Know.”

But the girls are back on the road and headed for Sun Valley for a 7:30 p.m. March 26 concert at The Argyros. And they are looking forward to every minute of it.

“It’s nice that touring is no longer the soul purpose of our lives, that we get to draw on other experiences. But it’s so nice to play again,” said Carabine. “We have great memories of Sun Valley when we played there earlier. And we’re relishing the drive from the airport to Sun Valley after so much quarantine and lockdown. We have a lot of catching up to do.”

Dala, a Canadian acoustic folk group, is comprised of the two women who met playing trumpet and bass clarinet in band class at Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School in Scarborough, Ontario. They hit it off and four years later in 2002 formed Dala—the name coming from the last two letters of their names.

“When we first started writing, we did it primarily together because we gave each other confidence in finding our voice,” said Carabine. “We leaned on one another, each one of us giving the other validation. Over the years we’ve became more confident in our own writing styles. But the other always give her stamp of approval—we respect each other’s opinions.”

Performing catchy original songs and covers boasting lush harmonies, the two were named Vocal Group of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards in 2010. And their fifth studio album, “Best Day,” won  Canadian Folk Music Award nominations for Songwriter of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year and Producer of the Year.

They have performed at the New Orleans Jazz Festival and the Newport Folk Festival.

The two, whose acoustic harmony has been likened to that of Simon and Garfunkel’s, have received plenty of acclaim for their covers. In particular, for a performance they taped for PBS titled “Girls from the North Country” that included covers of songs by Joni Mitchel, Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, as well as the Irish classic “Red is the Rose.”

They draw inspiration for their originals from an amazing array of sources.

They wrote one song based on what they called a “hilarious” “One Night Stand” Harlequin romance novel they read while driving to a concert about a karate instructor and dance instructor who meet in Halifax.

They penned their acclaimed “Horses,” which ranks as Carabine’s favorite, after meeting a young Toronto man who was paralyzed and left unable to speak in an accident as a teenager.

“Lennon and McCartney” is a light catchy ditty that the two turned into an engaging stop-action music video. And “Levi Blues,” which was nominated for a Canadian Radio Award, constitutes a wish list of places the two wanted to play, including New York, California, London and Paris.

The two will introduce a few new songs while in Ketchum, including one Carabine wrote addressing the pandemic.

“Everything before 2020 feels like a distant dream. But it was hard to be inspired –it felt like I was going through a low-grade depression, going from grand ideas to very mundane daily events,” she said. “I wrote a song that talks about all the feelings we went through and all the things I want to do when the pandemic is ‘over.’ They’re things I always wanted to do but, with the pandemic, I reflected on the fear and doubt and other things that hold us back from doing those things, whether there’s a pandemic or not.”

Carabine said she and Walther hope the Sun Valley audience will feel like they’re sitting in a living room watching two best friends singing together.

“We keep the stories and jokes fresh. And we’ll talk about what we’ve been up to the last two years, as boring as that might be,” she said. “Amazingly, we ‘ve never gotten tired of singing together. Music is our passion, and we take it very personally. So, we always strive to be at our best.”

 IF YOU GO…

Dala will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 26, at The Argyros in Ketchum. Tickets ae $20, available at https://theargyros.org/calendar/dala/

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