Trent Severn is an acclaimed Ontario folk trio who sing original, contemporary songs easily described as
“Canadian history in harmony”. Topically modern with a humorous twist, Trent Severn have inspired audiences all
over Canada to share a patriotic laugh and let their glowing hearts melt away.
Continuing the deeply poetic legacy of true ‘red and white’ pioneering troubadours such as Stompin’ Tom Connors,
Ian and Sylvia Tyson and Gordon Lightfoot, the eminently talented southern Ontario trio planted their Maple Leaf
flag deeply in the firmament of the Canadian roots music scene with the release of their self-titled debut album in
2012. Through regular touring in communities of all sizes, they continue to win over fans from coast to coast with
their bracingly authentic acoustic-based, story-centred brand of music.
The two-time Canadian Folk Music Award-nominated Trent Severn was named after a famous Ontario waterway
and founded on a remarkable creative kinship between two well-established, Stratford, Ontario area
musician/songwriters. Emm Gryner and Dayna Manning came together out of a shared desire to work with one
another and by their common affinity for all that makes Canada special. Accomplished fiddle player Lindsay
Schindler joined the group full time in 2015, replacing the equally adept Laura C. Bates.
Their second album, ‘Trillium’ sees Gryner, Manning and Schindler even more fully embracing ‘Canadian History
and Harmony’ with 10 beautifully crafted, profoundly evocative songs that are at times wistful, melancholic,
contemplative, joyous but always thoughtful.
“I know I felt a little bit of pressure this time. Once I saw what the first record became and how it came together I
was really proud of it and really thought that we accomplished what we set out to do,” said Manning, who
produced the new album.
Self-production is at the core of Trent Severn’s collective desire to be a truly grassroots DIY outfit, free from the
encumbrances of outside industry influence and the compulsion to pull into lockstep with what the ‘tastemakers’ say
Part of that is a fierce appreciation for lyrical depth – songs that have meaning, charm and wistful grace. A
common theme in Trent Severn’s music is a longing for and appreciation of home – whether it’s one’s home country,
province or the small communities in which the band members now live.
“The whole album has an Ontario thread to it. There is something to be said for coming home after living elsewhere
for a number of years. I travelled a lot and lived out west for a while and came back to live in my hometown of
Stratford and I feel like I live in paradise every day. That theme of going away, growing up and experiencing life
in different places is very present on this album,” Manning said.
“Dayna and I have both done that. Where I live, there are people who are just dying to get out but I think it’s the
most amazing place, and that’s after living in Montreal, L.A. and New York. We all see the beauty and appreciate
different things in the smaller places that are the real heartbeat of Canada,” Gryner added.
An appreciation for the little details and interesting stories that are alive in every community is also at the heart of
Trent Severn’s entire musical ethos. Much in the way Stompin’ Tom immortalized Sudbury, Tillsonburg and
individuals like Bud the Spud, and Big Joe Mufferaw, Trent Severn also choose to celebrate the scenery, folklore
and personalities that inhabit the communities that make us all tick.
“We love to hear the observations from our audience and they’ll write to us about what their experience is. That
feeds our desire to write more and more songs that tell the real-life stories of Canada,” said Gryner.
“I get thinking about things like the pancakes at the Hoito restaurant in Thunder Bay, reading the memorial to the
miners in Cobalt. As lifelong Canadian musicians, we thrive on having the chance to tour and getting to experience
those things in everyone’s hometown,” said Manning.
She also pointed to the song Haliburton High which was seeded by a long drive through cottage country and
attempting to annoy her fellow traveler by singing road signs along the journey. It turned into one of the most
atmospheric and almost symphonic pieces on Trillium and will no doubt be a concert favourite for many years to
For Manning, the most personal song on Trillium is ‘King of The Background’, a touching and heartfelt tribute to
fellow Stratford native Richard Manuel, of the legendary roots-rock group The Band.
“He is so important to everyone around us. We all knew of Richard through our fathers’ generation; when he
committed suicide in 1986, our friends’ dads were his pallbearers,” she explained.
“I wanted to touch upon what it must be like to be as talented as he was and have to share the stage with Robbie
Robertson, Levon Helm, Bob Dylan and Ronnie Hawkins. He was just so integral to The Band and absolutely ran
the background for that scene that they painted. I wanted to give him a real honourable tribute in an artistic way.”
Gryner believes that Trent Severn is more than a band – it is a conduit for an exchange of ideas, stories and
memories of people who appreciate or pine for a more simple, nostalgic, slower-paced lifestyle. The trio want to
build an almost collaborative relationship with their audience. Their audiences even show up wearing their
trademark plaid uniforms.
“We want to honour a particular legacy left behind by the great songwriters of Canadiana. We take this very
seriously and we really feel grateful to live in this country and want to share that with our audience and we want
our audience to share their love and their stories with us,” Manning said in agreement.
“We began with the musical notion of starting a band that focused on great harmonies, our communities and
playing stripped-back, acoustic music that we enjoyed. As we toured the first album, we found that the people
would bring something to the shows. It’s like we are growing with the audience and we are taking whatever they
have to give us and turning it into something too. I am always surprised at how our songs impact people,” said
Trent Severn, to their surprise, are also led on adventures by their songs. They’ve watched the RCAF ‘Snowbirds’
demonstration team fly to their tune ‘Freedom’ three times, they serenaded Col. Chris Hadfield while he was on
board the ISS in 2013 with his request ‘Truscott’, and that same year were recruited to sing their now trademark
three-part harmony arrangement of our national anthem on Canada Day to raise the flag on Parliament Hill. The
band was also featured in MacLean’s magazine under the headline “Trent Severn picks up where Stompin’ Tom left
off,” the year we lost our treasured troubadour.
With songs about trains, small town charms, unique Canadian personalities, a tribute to the iconic work of William
Lishman, (inspired by and co-written with the ultra-light aircraft enthusiast, artist and birdman himself) and, yes even
a song about the 2012 maple syrup heist (‘Stealin’ Syrup’), Trillium sees Trent Severn hitting their stride as
musicians, songwriters and harbingers of all that is good, great and beautiful about small-town Canada.