From Shy to Sly Violet

Folk-rock duo play Howe Sound Brew Pub this weekend

It took just one letter - and a husband - for folk-rock solo singer/songwriter Violet Clarke to change her act's stage moniker from Shy Violet to Sly Violet.

The Ontario-based Clarke first picked up a guitar at age 13 and soon afterward, started booking and playing gigs. She played the café and pub circuit, and independently recorded and released her first CD as Shy Violet in 2004.

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But, that all changed the next year.

"Originally I was just playing solo gigs," she said. "But in 2005, I got married, and over the next couple of years he (husband Sly Boston) was always there, helping with the sound, carrying gear."

Gigs also seemed like they were getting harder to book.

"Venues seemed to prefer booking groups over solo acts," Clarke said. "So I started looking for another musician - because a duo is a group - and he (Boston) already knew how to play drums. He just had to learn to play guitar."

In the meantime, Clarke also won the Kawartha Lakes (Ont.) Idol competition in 2007 and went on to be a Top 100 finalist on Canadian Idol the same year.

With the doubling of members, and a switch in letters, Shy Violet became Sly Violet.

The indie duo put out the EP Feel Your Way Out in 2009, and just released its first video from the CD for the song Trees Dance.

"We did the filming for the video in fall 2010," she said. "It was very low budget. We shot it and directed it ourselves. We basically set up the camera tripod ourselves in fields and areas around our home in Kawartha Lakes, Ont.

"We wanted to get a video out because it's more meaningful for fans to check out videos online these days, and it was a song that has gotten a lot of radio play. It is also my favourite on the album. I wrote it while sitting and playing guitar outside."

Once all the footage was shot, the two edited and produced the video themselves, as well.

The pair also just released its third EP, King of the Mountain, to coincide with Sly Violet's third western tour.

"We come back to B.C. because we find our music gets a pretty good response here," she said. "The new EP came out on Sept. 29 and we sell it at our gigs, but like the previous album it will be available on iTunes very soon."

With comparisons to the likes of Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Alanis Morisette, Sly Violet has received a number of accolades over the years, including a Barrie New Music Award for Best Folk and a Top 10 song on OurStage.com.

And despite living, working, creating and touring with the same person, Clarke said the relationship has never been stronger.

"We're the best of friends," she said. "We are doing all the stuff we enjoy doing, but together, so we are bonding more as a couple. We're definitely enjoying the journey."

Enjoy Sly Violet on Saturday (Oct. 8) at 9 p.m. at the Brew Pub.

Go to slyviolet.ca for more on the band.

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