Sunday, April 4, 2010

Humphrey and The Dumptrucks

by beau 23
It Came From Canada

Humphrery and The Dumptrucks have that old-time Canadian sound down pat. By "old-time Canadian sound," I mean that big-as-all-outdoors airiness you hear in early Neil Young tunes, many songs by The Band, and a lot of Maritime musicians. The Rheostatics had it and, to a lesser extent, The Tragically Hip have it, too. Must be something about living in such a huge country, especially if you've traversed it by bus, van or car, as many Canuck musicians have. One member of Humphrey and The Dumptrucks described their sound as "prairie music...It's not country and western; that is, it's not a conventional Nashville sound. It's not rock 'n' roll. It's not folk - though it incorporates all three."

Anyway, Humphrey and The Dumptrucks originally came together as a jug band in Saskatoon in 1967 and played extensively throughout western Canada, appeared on the CBC from time to time and even scored a musical (Cruel Tears, based loosely on Othello) and a ballet ( Goose!, based on Mother Goose rhymes) before calling it a day in 1981. The group's line-up was Gary "Humphrey Dumptruck" Walsh (dobro, banjo), Michael "Bear" Millar (12-string guitar, bass, jug), Michael "Ernie" Taylor (guitar, autoharp), and Graeme Card (guitar, mandolin), with all four members taking turns on vocals.

These four songs are from their 1971 album Six Days Of Painted Ladies, which was released on Boot Records, produced by Jury Krytiuk and Mark Altman, and engineered by Chris Skene and George Semkiw (who also mixed the LP). "Alone In Manitoba," which features some gorgeous slide guitar work, is probably my favourite, but all four are expertly played country/folk/rock with a distinctly Canadian flavour.

Songs and article here.


  1. Still playing.
    Michael Earnie Taylor.

  2. Many thanks for remembering this seminal Saskatchewan band--one of the first to break nationally in the 1970s, followed by Kenny Shields and Witness/Streetheart, if I am not mistaken.

  3. Socialist idiots should learn to spell.

    No, it isn't Canadian! It's American "bluegrass".