When you are on stage next to some of the biggest names in the business, you can feel like a ghost. Denis Dufresne and Aaron Young, the duo that makes up Ghostboy, chose their name because of how they felt being adjacent to the spotlight. Now they’re touring together and telling their own stories. They will be in Yorkton on Oct. 24 as part of the Yorkton Arts Council’s Stars for Saskatchewan series.
The duo got their started due to a move, after Dufrense and Young wound up living a couple blocks away from each other, Dufresne said. Being right next door was a good opportunity to spend some time jamming together. They decided to record it and put it on the internet. It caught on quickly.
“As soon as I did that, people started asking about it, asking when are you going to make a record for yourselves, we started getting a lot of corporate work... We went well, there’s something to this, if people are asking about it we might as well do something about it.”
They had never intended to start a band, but because of their chemistry and people getting interested, they realized they were on to something.
“We were doing it just for the love of the music, the love of getting together, telling funny stories to each other,” Dufrense said.
The initial videos were acoustic covers of a wide range of artists, everyone from Drake to k.d. Lang. Because of their start, the band is actually preparing to release two albums, one of their original music and one of the covers that got the band started.
When it comes to their original music, they didn’t want to stray too far from the sound that got them noticed, but they also had their own stories to tell. Playing together worked well, but writing together was equally natural for the duo, Dufrense said.
“We’re inspired by Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard and Glen Campbell, the old country from the ‘70s. It’s like ‘70s country with a modern flair.”
The show is going to be a mix of covers and originals, drawing from both of their recorded albums. They will also draw on their long industry experience, playing songs from artists they played with during sessions or as touring musicians, such as Steven Tyler or Charlie Daniels. Dufrense said they like covering artists who they’ve met, toured with, or with which they have a personal connection. You will have to go to the show to hear the stories of these artists, but for Dufrense, one man stands out.
“One of the things in our show is paying tribute to Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip. When you’re in the Canadian music scene, you get to meet some of these really cool people. Who left the biggest mark on us? Gord, any time you saw him at a festival he was always just so kind and just so gracious, so when he passed away it was easy to go ‘we have to do something for him.’”
The extensive Saskatchewan tour will be a homecoming for the group, as Young is from Shaunavon and Dufresne is from Prince Albert. In Canora, they are also doing an afternoon show for kids, something Dufresne is eagerly anticipating.
“We go in, we talk to the kids, try to get them pumped up about the potential of doing music as a profession, getting out of your small town, working hard at something you love, and being able to do it for a living.”
Ghostboy will be playing at the Sacred Heart Theatre on Oct. 24 to kick off the Stars for Saskatchewan series. Tickets are available at yorktonarts.ca.