The Once on Home Turf

Local folk trio The Once are hitting the road again this month, as the band embarks on province-wide Arts and Culture Centre tour. Their provincial tour is swiftly followed by a cross-country Canadian tour, creating a jam-packed autumn for the band.

By some small miracle, all three members of The Once – Geraldine Hollett, Phil Churchill, and Andrew Dale – had time to chat with The Herald in between rehearsals, days before their departure for the Big Land.

Time Enough Tour

Kicking off in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on October 9, The Once will be touring their latest album, Time Enough, in Labrador City, Stephenville, Corner Brook, Grand Falls-Windsor, and Gander, finishing up in St. John’s on October 20. The band likes to start touring a new album in their home province, where they began, playing traditional folk music at The Ship.

Creative Expression

In their nearly ten years of creating music, the artists have progressed, their sound expanding from traditional folk into indie folk with a pop/rock twist. “People who were around when we first started, when we had that first gig at The Ship so many years ago, they know us as more of a traditional folk band,” Churchill said. “Some people may be confused as to why our new record doesn’t have more Newfoundland songs like our first album does. We generally explain that well, they’re all Newfoundland songs – They’re all written by Newfoundlanders,” Churchill said with a laugh.

“We try to make people happy wherever we go, but the longer the band is together, the more we’ve decided to make ourselves happy,” he said.  “If we only did exactly what we’ve done in the past, we’d be miserable, and no one would want to come to our shows anyway,” Hollett said with a laugh. This led to an enlightening discussion on creative expression, and what inspires an artist to create. While listeners are a driving force in motivation, it is deeply important for the artist to follow their artistic vision.

“If you don’t change and progress, you feel stifled,” she added. Anyone who has listened to the Time Enough can hear this creative freedom being expressed in Hollett, Churchill and Dale’s latest body of work. Though it is a pop album when starkly contrasted against the 2009 debut, the 2018 release displays a willingness to evolve, and an ability to expertly navigate new genres and sounds, instead of remaining typecast as trad/folk.

A Fresh Sound

After they wrap up their Newfoundland and Labrador tour and subsequent Canadian tour, The Once will be heading to Europe in the new year, embarking on a two-month long tour that will bring them through the United Kingdom, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Hungary, bringing their music to a fresh audience. “The further we travel, the more open people can be to the band because they’re not comparing it to earlier iterations,” he explained, referencing The Once’s previous albums, like the 2009 self titled debut, 2011’s Row Upon Row of the People They Know, 2014’s Departures, and their 2016 EP, We Win Some We Lose.

Their European audiences “may not separate or recognize some of the covers as traditional Newfoundland songs,” Churchill said. “They’ll just hear our newest record, Time Enough, and that might be the first thing they hear.” If Time Enough is the first thing new audiences hear, they are in for a treat, if they go digging into the band’s back-catalogue, which has netted them Canadian Folk Music Awards, East Coast Music Awards, Juno Award nominations, and numerous MusicNL Awards.


In almost a decade of working together, the three-piece harmonies have become effortless, the musicianship improving from years of working, writing, and performing together.

This perfectly honed craftsmanship will be showcased at Arts and Culture Centres province-wide this month. “The Arts and Culture Centre is a perfect example of a performance venue that presents everything from the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, to Buddy Wassisname and The Other Fellas, and everything in between, and we’re somewhere in between those two, I s’pose,” Dale said with a laugh.

Setting the Scene

Speaking about setting the scene in such a large and gorgeous venue – strikingly different from a bar or pub setting, Dale explained that the band just wants to create a safe and comfortable atmosphere for their local fans to enjoy the show.

“It all comes down to the people on the stage, and how they make the people out in the seats feel … If they want to sing, they can sing. If they want to clap along, they can. If they want to sit quietly with their eyes closed and take it all in, they can do that too,” Dale said. “We’re really proud of this one,” Churchill added. “We’ve said it to ourselves a bunch of times, that this is a record that feels like – when we hang out and do this album live, for one another – it really feels like this is the place we’re been naturally coming towards. The sense of arrival is just… wow. We got it. We’re here.”

Tour dates for The Once’s Time Enough tour are available on The Once’s website. Tickets can be purchased through the Arts and Culture Centre box office or website.


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