“My truths and my stories are all I recall; And I move through the night like a poem.”
– From Early June, by John Pilat.
It all began late one night at a scotch tasting party.
“John and I recognized each other from when we were kids with the same piano teacher,” explains Evan Dawe, half of a Sarnia acoustic folk duo that just released an EP and sold out its most recent show.
“We got to sharing a few drinks and played a little guitar together that night.”
They immediately found common ground in Simon & Garfunkel songs.
“Those were the ones both of us knew and we thought we sounded pretty good,” said John Pilat, who writes the original material for Evan & John.
“It took us a long time to come up with that name,” joked Dawe.
In the weeks following the scotch party, the men messaged back and forth about staging their own Simon & Garfunkel show.
Pilat, 32, was already performing regularly at local bars and private functions, but tiring of the solo act. Before meeting Dawe, he’d already toyed with the idea of finding someone to collaborate on a Simon & Garfunkel show.
“I love Paul Simon’s guitar playing,” he said. “I love the harmonies and that the songs are deep and introspective.
“I’ve always appreciated Sounds of Silence. It’s probably my favourite song of all time.”
Dawe, 33, grew up listening to his parents’ Simon &Garfunkel albums.
“Their music is interesting. It has substance,” he said.
Dawe has the vocal range to cover Garfunkel’s harmonies and the guitar prowess to complement Pilat’s.
The first time the duo played for an audience was last winter in the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts. It was a bit of an experiment, admitted Pilat.
“We weren’t sure we’d sell enough for one show.”
But ticket sales were strong and a second show added. It sold out too.
“That was a nice surprise,” said Dawe.
And the surprises keep coming.
In the year since they started performing together they’ve added numerous original songs to their shows, mixing them with Simon & Garfunkel standards and covers from favourite indie bands like the Milk Carton Kids and Olenka and the Autumn Lovers.
In January, Evan & John released Little Songs EP, a five-tune compilation written by Pilat with one track written by Olenka Krakus. It’s available on popular music sites like Spotify, iTunes and Bandcamp.
Just hours after uploading it to Bandcamp, a California short film producer called to ask permission to use the EP’s first song, Early June, for the title sequence in a film called Country People.
“That was a nice little bonus,” said Dawe. “We’ve been paid for it and the film is being shown at a bunch of LGBT film festivals.”
“That’s something we never saw coming,” said Pilat.
He wrote most of Early June in a matter of hours while thinking back on his days at Lakeroad School in Sarnia.
Early June is also entered in this year’s CBC Searchlight competition for Canadian musicians.
“There’s more than 1,600 competitors, so we don’t expect anything but it’s a chance to get our name out there,” said Pilat.
More exposure is the goal for 2018, Dawe added.
“We’re playing locally at Empty Fest and Artwalk and we hope to get out to folk festivals across Ontario this summer.”
To listen or vote for Early June in the Searchlight contest, visit http://www.cbcmusic.ca/searchlight/4584.
Little Songs is for sale at The Book Keeper, Cheeky Monkey and The Lawrence House.
The Arts Journal celebrates Sarnia’s diverse cultural scene. Send your ideas to [email protected].