by Fraser MacCallum
Charlottetown’s music scene has hit a growth spurt. Every week there’s a CD release and a new band jumps into the fray during this local music puberty. Enter Late November. The rock band is barely six months old but has already played several high calibre shows and is picking up steam.
The quartet is led by 20-year-old Sarah Sandford of Kings County, who easily garners the “little girl with a big presence” handle, but in all the right ways. The PEI scene may be a crowded market right now, however there are very few front-women with full bands.
On stage with Late November, Sandford has a strong, full voice and keeps your attention, something she‘s conscious of. “There’s lots of pressure in putting on a performance and I have to portray an image beyond just being a little girl.” Always quick to keep things comical, she adds, “I’m also, like, three feet tall so I have to put out a lot of energy to compensate!”
Late November also includes lead guitarist Andrew Waite, bassist Jon Millington, and drummer George Maros. Last summer Sandford, who has played solo for few years, recruited Waite and Maros for a gig at Hal Mill’s famous “Dunk” venue in Breadalbane. Needing a bass player, Waite called up fellow UPEI student Millington, who also plays with cover rockers Sunday Punch. Something clicked, and Late November’s set at “Dunkstock” was a crowd hit. “The sound we all created really worked,” Millington remembers fondly. “Afterwards we said let’s just form a band, cause we rock!”
Although they are still working on their set, Late November have a rare dynamic for Charlottetown, melding Sandford’s clear, folky vocals with a lively rock foundation, that evokes references to Fleetwood Mac or Tragically Hip. Guitarist Waite, who also writes in the band, cites Zeppelin and Tower of Power as influences while Sandford leans towards Pink Floyd and Pete Seeger.
While the Charlottetown music community is prospering, Waite and Maros, both from Summerside, feel that the western capital’s scene is lagging behind. “Its kind of a drag,” says Maros “like Charlottetown, there are very few places to play, but in Summerside there aren’t many groups and not many people interested in hearing bar bands. I have to drive to Charlottetown to practice, play and see music.”
At press time the foursome were still beaming though, coming off of a packed show at the Alibi and en route to Fredericton for their first off-Island gig. In terms of recording, they demoed five original songs this past fall (you can hear the infectious track ‘Heart of Hearing’ on myspace.com/novemberlate) but are taking the time to polish their live set before releasing any studio work. “Right now, we want to keep developing but are aiming to record a full-length in the summer,” says Waite. In the meantime, Sandford wants to fill the band fund from local gigs, play to other Maritime crowds, and write a ton.