Summer Mix Tape: Sherman Downey and The Ambiguous Case

July 22, 2011

How could there be a mix tape made up of Corner Brook music without including Sherman Downey?  The folk-rock stylings of Downey and his band have taken not just the city, but large parts of the country by storm, making them well deserving of a spot on the Summer Mix Tape.

Originally from the Codroy Valley, Downey found himself involved with music no matter where he ended up.  On a road trip with friend Matt Wells (of Bucket Truck/MuchMoreMusic fame), the two penned several songs that eventually developed in to a full length album.  The duo released the album under the name Paddyfingers, and one tune, Small, received regular play on OZ FM.  After spending time teaching in Taiwan, Downey settled in Corner Brook and continued writing, further developing his style.  These new songs would be played as acoustic folk songs at bars around Newfoundland and Labrador and earn Sherman a quiet following.  It was when Downey enlisted a group of all-stars from the Corner Brook scene that his popularity would explode.  The additions of Andrew Ross, Jonny Payne, Bill Allan, Neil Targett, and Paul Lockyer made it possible to inject new life in to some older Sherman Downey originals, forming The Ambiguous Case.  The band released their first full album, Honey for Bees, this past year to huge critical acclaim.  After five MusicNL Award and two ECMA nominations, a trip to the Vancouver Olympics, and air play all over the country, Sherman Downey and The Ambiguous Case are riding high.

Taken from that first release, the song Keep Your Head Up, is a catchy tune that, as Sherman says, will have you singing shamelessly into a brush in front of your mirror.  The blend of the banjo and guitar lead to Downey’s fun and playful verses and yodelling, and a catchy mandolin line.  The chorus also features a lively give and take, passing chords through the band, and ending with a rhythmic build up.  For its fun and upbeat energy, Keep Your Head Up, earns a big spot on the Summer Mix Tape.  The song’s video is also notable, as it stars local talent, was shot in Corner Brook, and had a special way of pulling the city together.  Check out the video below.

Same time, same place next week for the next track on the Summer Mix Tape!