The Burying Ground brings their unique brand of ragtime, country, Mississippi blues and New Orleans jazz to The Gumboot on Saturday, March 11. Devora Laye and Woody Forster are the mainstays of the group, often bringing in musical guests to deepen their sound. Forster plays resonator guitar and sings, while Laye plays washboard, saw and kazoo, and has only recently begun to sing. “Singing is my newest instrument and the most vulnerable instrument I play,” says Laye. “It took me awhile to get comfortable with it.” Though The Burying Ground has only been together since 2014, Laye and Forster have been playing together since 2009 when they were members of The Dire Wolves. In fact it was the Wolves’ guitarist, Blake Bamford, who encouraged Laye to take up the washboard. “I wasn’t sure the washboard was a real instrument,” says Laye laughing. “It took me a while to really want to play it and once I did, I loved it and I love to listen to the old players. It’s also a lot easier to carry around than a drum set.” Given that Laye plays drums and has always loved percussion, taking up the washboard is perhaps not such a great leap. But the musical saw? “I was introduced to it by my flute teacher, Andrea Minden,” says Laye. “She would bring different instruments to the lessons to make them more interesting, I guess. One day she brought in the saw and she showed me how to hold it and how to bow it.” Laye has been playing saw and washboard now for over 10 years.
The Burying Ground’s sound owes much to such influences as Blind Blake, Memphis Minnie, Bessie Smith, Jimmy Rodgers and Woody Guthrie, paying homage to their idols by covering many of their tunes. Their EP, Country Blues and Rags, which was recorded in Laye’s home in Gibsons, contains renditions of such standards as “That Will Never Happen No More,” “Drunken Barrel Blues” and “Saturday Night Rub.” Their forthcoming self-titled album, due later this spring, will have the same sound but will be all original music. “We wanted to share some of the songs we love,” says Laye of the EP. “With our new songs, it’s nice to hear that sometimes people can’t tell which are our songs and which are the old time songs.”
For their Gumboot gig, The Burying Ground will be playing two sets featuring a mix of new songs from their upcoming album alongside some old standards. Laye and Forster will be joined by Joseph Lubinsky-Mast on bass and Joshua Doherty on harmonica. “The intimate show at the Gumboot is really nice” says Laye. “Though if the mood took them, people are more than welcome to dance.”
The Burying Ground plays at The Gumboot Saturday, March 11 at 7pm. Tickets $10-$20 sliding scale available at the door.