Hearth Music is an independent publicity agency based out of Seattle that has a special fondness for breaking Canadian roots musicians to the American mainstream. In October, Starbucks around the world picked up on the homemade, old-timey music of Horsefly, British Columbia duo Pharis & Jason Romero thanks to Hearth. They broadcast Pharis’ rootsy song “Long Gone Out West Blues” throughout Starbucks stores across the globe, bringing their homey Canadian folk music to many new listeners. In December, NPR picked up on Pharis & Jason, calling their album one of the Top 10 Folk and Americana Albums of 2013. This capped out a banner year for Pharis & Jason, who usually make their living building high-end banjoes out of their home workshop in Horsefly, where Pharis is a fifth-generation resident. Earlier in 2013, Garrison Keillor had invited them to Seattle to perform on A Prairie Home Companion and was so impressed that he immediately invited them to New York for the show in 2014. This isn’t the first success for Leger’s publicity company. In 2012, they brought the new album from Cape Breton Gaelic singer Mary Jane Lamond and fiddler Wendy MacIsaac to NPR’s top lists as well, helping Mary Jane & Wendy’s wonderfully compelling traditional roots music from Eastern Canada gain a new foothold in the United States.
When Leger was lead booker of the Northwest Folklife Festival, an event that draws 250,000+ people to Seattle every year from all around the Northwest, he’d become connected to many Canadian roots musicians in British Columbia. But he’d always been interested in his own roots in New Brunswick’s Acadian communities. While studying Ethnomusicology at the University of Washington, he fell under the wing of Douglas Jackson, Director of Canada Studies, who encouraged him to focus on French-Canadian culture as an area of study. This brought Leger closer to his own father, as the two of them began studying Acadian music more closely, and formed a family band, La Famille Leger. In 2013, this culminated in a trip to Northern New Brunswick with the family to record elder Acadian fiddlers whose music has almost been lost. In 2014, La Famille Leger will release an album of traditional Acadian music from their travels. After forming Hearth in 2010, Leger was determined to help Canadian artists bring their music to American audiences. To date, Devon Leger and Hearth Music have worked with many Canadian roots musicians, and Hearth has become a leading roots music publicity agency in the US and also in Canada.
Some of the songs featured in Hearth Music:
Pharis & Jason Romero: Long Gone Out West Blues
Mary Jane Lamond & Wendy MacIsaac
Devon & Dejah Leger
Devon Ledger is an affiliated graduate of the Canadian Studies Center since 2005. The Canadian Studies Center has a Professional Development Program for Graduate Students enabling any U.W. student from across campus to join the Center as an Affiliated Graduate Student. Affiliated Graduate Students are provided with mentorship and opportunities on cross-border studies.