Morinville – En route from Fort Saskatchewan to High Level over the weekend, Ontario-based band Broken Walls made a stop in Morinville to play to a packed house at Higher Grounds Espresso Bar Friday night. The three-piece band made up of Jonathan Maracle (vocals and guitar), Kris Delorenzi (bass), and Bill Pagaran (percussion) played a spirited 90-minute set, earning themselves two standing ovations from those who came out to see the band.
Broken Walls, who have performed in Morinville on three occasions over the past year, have played around the world communicating what they refer to as a message of restoration, dignity, self-respect, and the Creator’s love to all cultures.
They mix the traditional band staples of guitar, bass and drums with wind flute and Native drums. Although their music is performed with an unapologetic reverence for their creator, Broken Walls never come across as preachy or proselytizing with their music. It is music that expresses a love of life, gratefulness for what they have, and a strong desire to bring healing to those who need it.
Those attending Friday night’s show were given an evening of excellent music with a positive message of family and community in a show that blended a variety of indigenous sounds and songs with adeptly performed current musical sounds.
Central to the band’s music is the importance of family to any community and the duty of fathers to their families. “If we think about that, that is the basic strength of community,” Maracle said. “If family is strong, a community will be strong, too. So we need to stay focused on those kinds of things.”
Two of the band’s songs spoke particularly to the concept of family. Maracle said The Father’s Dance, from the 2008 album of the same name, was written because of the pain and suffering in Native communities across Canada. Another Man’s Son recounts Maracle’s own experience in lending a hand to a young man who passed through his reservation in the early hours one morning, cold, wet and in need of a stranger’s compassion and help.
“Those of us who can need to start reaching out to lend a hand,” Maracle said in introducing the song. “Really we are out here to reach out with a helping hand, to inspire people to be different, inspire people to give of our gifts to one another to really make a difference.”
Friday night’s performance included songs from the band’s discography of albums over the years as well as new songs that will be on a CD the band is looking to release later this year. The release will be the band’s first since 2008’s The Father’s Dance.
Maracle explained cutting an album is a bit of a challenge given his band mates live 2,000 to 5,000 kilometres from him. Maracle lives in Tyendinega Territory in Ontario, Delorenzi much further north in Thunderbay, and Pagaran in Palmer, Alaska. “What we do is we get together for several days and try to lay down all the basic tracks,” Maracle said. “We do the rest over the Internet. We send tracks back and forth and we put the album together.”