Norwich Bulletin 6/28/07



Go grab an empty bucket, a small kitchen appliance, some spoons and rubberbands. Congratulations: you're halfway to becoming the Can Kickers.

But to totally become the Can Kickers is virtually impossible. That takes years of touring, building a solid reputation, opening the doors for minimalist old-time music and an extremely grounded sense of place. The New London-based trio is in its seventh year of existence, still supplying the Whaling City with a necessary dose of old-time music.

Armed with a fiddle, harmonica, banjo, drums and washboard, the Kickers are truly a New London institution. Their sound is instantly recognizable -- many of their songs are traditonal folk and Americana songs -- and their work ethic is phenomenal.

"I think we're basically a live band," said drummer/washboarder Doug Schaefer. "I don't think we've ever made a great album. It's just music people can dance to."

And dance they do. Their shows are always filled with energetic fans, ready to express their limbs freely. But don't just expect to see the Kickers at your local rock club. They can -- and will -- play anywhere.

"We've played in museums and on the back of a bus; it appeals to a broader audience," Schaefer said. "It's easier to get gigs and play. You don't have to wait 'til a Friday and Saturday."

Most recently, the Can Kickers played Mexico. They parlayed an almost two-month excursion south of the border to a 30-plus show tour. Through their travels playing with Polka Madre y La Comezon, they ran into their share of trouble with Mexican enforcement officials. According to Schaefer, they were pulled over 17 times in Mexico.

Schaefer added some Mexicans were intrigued -- possibly confused -- by the sight of a fiddle and banjo.

"We had a great time," Schaefer said. "We definitely played some great shows. There were others where people were like, 'What the [expletive deleted] is this?' "

Other global destinations for the Can Kickers have included Ireland and Germany. When playing abroad or at home, they make sure to play as many times as possible.

"They played in Ireland once, and they played like seven or eight shows in one day," said Sean Murray, promoter of the Oasis Pub in New London. "They literally played a morning show, played a record store, played outside in the street three times, a nightclub and a pub. Because they're extremely industrious, they'll just play wherever they feel like playing, so it's pretty amusing."

You may be able to find them on roadsides, on top of buildings and on freight trains during their national tour in October, just after the releases of a live album and 7-inch vinyl, both set for September.

"They're definitely inspiring, because you look at a band like that, it's totally funny because there's not just a lot around here like that," Murray said. "You don't find a band with that style pretty much."