Connecticut-based Americana five-piece Parsonsfield has taken up a steady residence at The Royal Alexandra Theatre as the on-stage band for the production of The Heart of Robin Hood, and so we would like to think of them as honorary Torontonians for the time being. Their progressive bluegrass sound draws heavily on folk influences, but this rowdy and animated ensemble is definitely more Trampled By Turtles and Old Crow Medicine Show than it is Mumford & Sons.
The band released their self-titled debut album in 2013 (under their old name, Poor Old Shine), and just released their Afterparty EP in September of last year. Since joining the production of The Heart of Robin Hood, Parsonsfield has done nothing but continue to gain momentum. Tasked with not only playing their original music as the soundtrack for the production, but also providing live background music throughout the show, the ever-creative and original Parsonsfield is able to invent new sounds with a quirky choice (and use) of instruments, including a 20th century pump organ, a thumb piano made out of a gourd, a drum kit outfitted with a bike wheel, and a saw played with a fiddle bow.
The authenticity of their music is carried through to their rustic and rambunctious live performances, where their clear passion for music is undeniably illustrated. The energy and genuine spirit that they bring to their shows is infectious, and you can count on hand-clapping and foot-stomping from opening to encore. Eccentric, engaging, and wickedly entertaining — be sure to check out Parsonsfield while they are still hanging around Toronto.
You can catch them on stage at the Royal Alexandra (8 times a week!) from now until March 29th, or at The Drake Underground this coming Sunday.
Parsonfield is Chris Freeman (vocals, banjo), Antonio Alcorn (mandolin), Max Shakun (vocals, pump organ, guitar), Harrison Goodale (bass), and Erik Hischmann (drums).