Barrie Advance | Digging Roots

Barrie Advance | Digging Roots

This story originally appeared on on February 9, 2018.

Digging Roots brings music with a message to Barrie

Raven Kanatakta, singer and guitarist of the Juno Award-winning band Digging Roots, can write music anywhere.

“We go where the music calls us,” Kanatakta said. “You never know where you’re going to end up.”

The six-piece roots rock outfit is back in their home studio in Barrie following a festival in Australia.

Digging Roots has played shows all over the world.

“We ended up in northern Norway. Twice,” Kanatakta said. “Once when the sun didn’t go down, and another time when there was no sun at all.”

The band is playing a number of shows in Canada, including a Feb. 28 event at the Georgian Theatre in Barrie, but has plans to head back to Australia.

“Because it was colonized by the British, a lot of the same colonial history exists there,” said Shoshona Kish, Digging Roots’ singer. “I think there’s a really interesting conversation and connection with Indigenous people from Australia.

“We share some of the struggles and triumphs,” Kish said. “The exchange of that art seems really important.”

The home studio is filled with guitars, amps, drums, mics, keyboards, and, in the middle of it all, the master control, a Logic-equipped computer.

Kanatakta said they’ve got Logic, one type of digital audio workshop, in the home studio and Pro Tools at their main studio, but he can write music using Garageband on his phone.

“Raven’s always doing that,” said Kish. “He’s either got a guitar in his hand, or he’s at his desk, or he’s got his phone in his hand. You’ve got to grab those moments of creativity when they’re there.”

While they’re no strangers to high-tech music production gear, many of their songs use traditional methods.

“One of the ways we used to make music back in the day, some of the chants come from dreams, but others come from song lines,” Kish said. “You would trace the horizon and that would inform the melodic rise and fall of the song.”

On the walls of the studio are huge photographs of Jasper and Lake Louise.

“Many of our songs actually belong to a specific place,” Kish said, adding that they have thousands of these landscapes, both natural and urban settings.

“It’s a traditional Anishinaabe way of making music,” Kish said.

While they’ve lived in Barrie for the past 18 years, which is traditional Anishanaabe territory, Kish is from the Batachawana First Nation near Sault Ste. Marie and Kanatakta’s roots are at the Kahnawake First Nation near Montreal.

“The last time we played Barrie was four years ago,” Kish said. “We’re excited to do a hometown show.”

Fans can expect to hear a few new songs, but the band is still working on producing their latest album.

For the uninitiated, Digging Roots is roots based and blues-infused.

“We’re inspired by music for change. Some of the really revolutionary artists have been our primary influences,” Kish said. “It’s music with a message.”

The band’s Feb. 28 show at the Five Points Theatre also features Dione Taylor and the Backsliderz.

Tickets are available at 1 Dunlop Street West or online at

Digging Roots from Bryan Myers on Vimeo.