Early Spirit is Will Chernoff (bass), Gabriel Dubreuil (violin), Ben Kelly (drums), and Jay Knutson (guitar). At almost every performance, fans ask “Are you a family band?” But these four sons of Vancouver, BC are related only by music, and they’re proud to release Early Spirit’s first album, Unrelated.
Jay Knutson sings the lead vocal for Early Spirit. Previously, he arranged, performed, and wrote Celtic folk-rock music with John Mann and Geoffrey Kelly in their band Spirit of the West. Later, Jay worked with major Canadian artists including Hart-Rouge and Connie Kaldor. His solo material, a constant throughout his career, draws from jazz and roots music. As a singer-songwriter, Jay “puts the soul back into music, fun back into instruments, and conviction back into lyrics” (The Chronicle Herald , Halifax). He uses wisdom gathered from over 50 album projects to write for and perform with Early Spirit. Few performers in folk music can combine their experience with raw energy like Jay.
The North Shore Celtic Ensemble, a violin youth group that Jay co-founded in 1998, helped Early Spirit come together. Playing drums in this group was a young Ben Kelly, the son of Jay’s Spirit of the West bandmate, Geoffrey Kelly. Ben went on to perform and record with Fish & Bird, an eclectic folk music band from the Southern Gulf Islands, and he continued to lend his talents to touring independent acts. Ben’s musical heroes include the versatile session masters of the 80s, including his favourite drummer, Jeff Porcaro.. His drumming complements every style from children’s music to heartland rock.