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Perseverance, hope at centre of B.C. wildfire song by band with Lytton roots

‘Praying for Rain’ from the Lonesome Ace Stringband, is about the 2021 Lytton fire

A Canadian stringband is paying homage to the resilience of Lytton with a new song more timely than ever for the province amid the record-breaking fire season.

Toronto-based Lonesome Ace Stringband’s new song, “Praying for Rain,” was released earlier this month, and although written two years ago, the message still resonates today.

Max Malone plays the upright bass and wrote the piece with the help of his bandmates and his wife. His home is about 15 kilometres from Lytton, and the song was written in response to the fear caused by the wildfire.

“It’s really eerie, it almost feels dark during the day and obviously it affects your breathing and your health in general,” Malone told Black Press Media in a phone interview.

“The sun takes on this red hue, that’s ominous, that was definitely the eerie feeling that came with it.”

The fatal Lytton wildfire began on June 30, 2021, and destroyed most of the small town and is still in recovery.

Malone is from Toronto, his wife is Californian, and no stranger to wildfire season. He said that he wrote the verses with her all in one go, but the chorus, which he calls “preachy,” took him some time.

“I’d say the chorus is a general feeling expressing the idea that we’re all in this boat and it looks to get worse, and I was complaining,” Malone said.

”Maybe there’s people who will find that irritating or offensive but it is sort of a form of complaint because your life gets upended and it gets disrupted even if it’s not directly affected by the fire, even if you’re not having to evacuate.”

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Malone and his bandmates, John Showman and Chris Coole, have been playing together in the Lonesome Ace Stringband for 15 years, beginning in Dakota Tavern in Toronto.

Before that, they played brunch gigs together for roughly five years. He said the chemistry they have together comes out when they play.

“I love the songwriting and the harmony and our interplay of instruments and it was sort of accidental that we hit upon this bass trio, it just seemed to really rhythmically cut through the din of cutlery and plates,” Malone said.

“We just get a pretty strong groove between the three of us and we don’t infringe on each other’s tonal range.”

Some inspirations for Malone’s songwriting are Darrin Hacquard, Pharis and Jason Romero, and Amelia Curran. He said that he doesn’t think that Lonesome Ace sounds like those artists musically, he thinks that they’re talented songwriters.

“I take inspiration from people who just whose songwriting really reflects the reality that they’re living,” Malone said.

Malone wants Praying for Rain” to reflect how ever present climate change is, especially in Canada. He hopes that people who listen to the song pick up on that.

Lonesome Ace’s upcoming album, “Try to Make It Fly,” comes out on October 13. Malone said that it’s a record about optimism.

“The idea of perseverance is the message of the album, and staying hopeful.”

“Praying for Rain” is available to stream on Spotify or Apple Music or to download on the Lonesome Ace Stringband website. The website also has more information on tour dates and tickets.

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