Scott Michaud jokes that Fredericton’s Montgomery Street Band is “technically” a string quartet.
The group is inspired by the sound of bluegrass music, playing well known covers and original songs.
Michaud, the group’s banjo player; Patrick Gushue, mandolin and fiddle player; and Liam Keith-Jacques, guitar and dobro player, all come from Sussex and have known each other since they were about six years old.
Together, they are the Montgomery Street Band.
They started the band in 2014, when they were living in a house on Montgomery Street in Fredericton, just steps away from St. Thomas University. The three original members had bands in high school, where they experimented with genres like metal and ska.
They transitioned to a more bluegrass sound after a few noise complaints from neighbors.
“Bluegrass music sort of popped up. I started watching bluegrass videos. It’s similar to metal where they like shredding, but it’s not as loud” said Gushue. “Turns out the neighbors were just more mad.”
The group has had three different bass players over the years, but the current upright bass player is Jason Flores.
“He’s a very educated musician. Not that we’re not educated musicians, but he actually went to a crazy music school,” said Keith-Jacques.
“He’s got lots of experience and it’s helped us end up with some stuff I don’t think necessarily we would have come up with on our own.”
Keith-Jacques said the band is influenced by Cape Breton fiddle and Celtic music, but nothing is necessarily off the table.
“We play what we’re into. We’re not strictly speaking, a bluegrass band. We usually just go with ‘string band’, because that’s more all-encompassing,” said Keith-Jacques.
The band plays at local gigs and goes on tour, and is known in Fredericton for their street performances. Some sunny summer Saturday mornings, they can be seen and heard at the entrance of the Fredericton Boyce Farmers’ market.
The Montgomery Street band are relaxed and easy to talk to. The way they described going on tour was like something out of a novel.
On one occasion, two of their friends volunteered to help them out as roadies.
“It was the three of us in one car and the other three in the SUV. It’s a lot of crashing on random people’s floors and sleeping out in the woods next to the edge of some weird property,” said Gushue.
“We did a pretty good job of finding places to stay most of the time. There was that one time we had to sleep on a beach, but it worked out really nice because we saw the Northern Lights and I’d never seen them before,” said Gushue, recalling a memory from their tour in Saskatchewan.
The Montgomery Street Band is currently working on new music to be able to release a new album in the near future.
“We haven’t really fully planned anything. It’s in the works,’ said Keith-Jacques.