The Wardens started in 2009 — fittingly, the 100th year for the Parks Canada warden program.
Scott Ward, a park ranger with more than 30 years in Banff National Park, was performing his songs, and he invited up Ray Schmidt, a warden posted in Jasper National Park who has worked at parks in Banff, Glacier and Mount Revelstoke.
“And one thing led to the next,” Schmidt told the Tri-City News. “The more we kept playing together, the more people wanted to buy our CDs and hear our songs.”
“It was very organic — almost like our band had started around the campfire.”
These days, The Wardens are playing in full-scale theatres with fiddler Scott Duncan to promote their original mountain music, including from their latest recording Sold Out at the Ironwood, which was released in 2021 and has received critical acclaim.
Last Friday (Jan. 13), the Albertan trio launched its 16-date tour of the west that includes a stop at Coquitlam’s Evergreen Cultural Centre on Sunday (Jan. 22).
The concert, Schmidt said, is more than just tunes: It also features a multi-media slideshow of places they have seen in the Canadian Rockies and the backcountry.
“A big part about our show is storytelling, musically and visually,” he said. “The images give people a real inside look into our lives while working in the wilderness.”
The Wardens talk and sing about the pristine environment, as well as about conservation and climate change, as their photos and archival pictures are screened behind.
Ticket-holders tend to be in awe of their travels and the beauty of Canada.
“It’s amazing how many people are connected to the mountains,” Schmidt said. “We present a real Canadian experience, which is also appreciated when we play in the United States at music venues. It’s a universal thing to be protecting the land.”
Schmidt, who was nominated last year for Traditional Folk Singer of the Year in the Canadian Folk Music Awards, said The Wardens are excited to play Coquitlam: They’ve tried to play at Evergreen before, but never got the chance due to scheduling.
And, he said, they’re also happy to be back on the road after the pandemic.
• Tickets for The Wardens on Sunday are $35/$32/$16. Call the box office at the Evergreen Cultural Centre (1205 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam) or visit evergreenculturalcentre.ca.