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Slip of tongue leads to promising pairing, coming to Parksville

Indie folk duo to perform at GZAL Aug. 29
Emma Cloney and Dale Brown make up The New Customs — an indie folk duo from Winnipeg headed to Parksville to perform at the Ground Zero Acoustic Lounge Aug. 29. — Courtesy The New Customs

A duo from Winnipeg is headed to Parksville to feature the chemistry and songwriting synergy they stumbled upon two-and-a-half years ago.

The New Customs are an indie folk band made up of singer, guitarist and bassist Emma Cloney, and percussion and multi-instrumentalist Dale Brown.

And while the energy they bring together has become a hallmark of their music, it was a slip of the tongue on Cloney’s part that suddenly brought the two together for a tour.

Part of different groups, but performing together at a variety show in Winnipeg about two-and-a-half years ago, Cloney said she liked what she heard from Brown. “In the parking lot, I very casually asked him if he wanted to maybe play music again some time, and he very casually said yes,” Cloney explained.

Brown didn’t think too much of it at the time, he said. “Winnipeg is a very musician-centric town, and many people play with other people, and so the phrase ‘Do you want to play music again sometime,’ is sort of like friends saying, ‘Hey, let’s do coffee at some point.’ So I was certainly not expecting to wake up the next day to a message saying, ‘We have a tour in September. Call me as soon as you can. It was a little more gumption than I’m used to.”

Turns out that Cloney had been offered a tour of house concerts that day, and when she was asked “‘Well who are you going to go on tour with?’” she blurted out, “‘Actually Dale Brown and I are a band.’”

“Initially I was a little terrified,” said Brown, to laughs from Cloney. “But it all worked out really well.

“When we actually got to playing on stage, the banter and the musicality just felt incredibly natural, which is nice. There was no struggle, and so it just felt like a really natural fit to keep going and see what comes out of it.”

Now the pair are on another tour of Canada, having dropped a debut EP in 2016, an album in 2017 and are now wrapping up the writing for another album.

The pair are tending towards indie folk these days, they said, allowing themselves to bring in elements of pop, Celtic music and more, while also bringing a more orchestral sound, said Cloney.

Their songwriting is also focusing more on what’s going on in the world, they said, creating songs with a political message, sometimes inspired by U.S. President Donald Trump.

In fact, the name of their 2017 album, All Walls Fall, was in response to Trump’s election, said Cloney.

But the pair are also working on balancing the songs for their latest album with some more lighthearted music, as well. Nonetheless, they said in voicing their political message, they feel they are remaining true to folk music.

The New Custom’s Aug. 29 show, taking place at Ground Zero Acoustic Lounge (8-464 Island Highway East, Parksville) at 7:30 p.m., will focus more on their All Walls Fall album.

Of their concert, Cloney said she hopes their music and performance connects with people, whether they tap into the meaning of a song in a way she and Brown intended, or in their own way that’s meaningful to them. Brown said he hopes those who attend their concert leave having had a better day, and inspired.

Tickets for the concert are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. For more info, go to or call 250-927-4595.

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