Southern rock duo set to play at Celtic Circle brunch

Amanda Jess
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EUREKA – It’s difficult for Billy Bell to pinpoint why he enjoys music as much as he does.

Billy Bell and Matt Trefry will be performing this week as part of the Celtic Circle’s regular Sunday brunch. AMANDA JESS – THE NEWS

The 57-year-old guitarist took time to ponder the answer during an interview in his cosy Eureka home.

“It’s comforting in times of trouble,” he said, adding that music is his whole life.

When he’s not doing shows at venues like the Whitetail Pub and Grill or the Celtic Circle, he’s practising his craft with fellow musician, 25-year-old Matt Trefry.

They play together at least two or three times a week. Trefry has been playing with Bell for five years as part of the Billy Bell Band, a four-piece group specializing in country, rock and blues with Ernie Trefry on the organ and Robert Reid on drums.

The two musicians are trying something new, and performing just the two of them for at least one upcoming show.

They’ll take over the Celtic Circle on Sunday for a brunch featuring a mix of Bell’s original songs and covers with a southern-country feel.

Even though they have more than 30 years between them, the pair says it works for them.

“Age difference makes no difference when it comes to music,” Bell says.

Bell has known Matt Trefry since he was born, having played with his father, Ernie, for many years.

Growing up around a musical father, who is part of the Billy Bell Band, and brother, guitarist for rock band Carry The Lost, influenced Matt’s love of sound.

The bass player has been playing for 10 years, experimenting with different instruments and noises.

In the future, he sees himself in a city, offering his bass playing and Hammond organ skills to different bands as a session musician.

“He’s an awesome bass player,” Bell says of Trefry, adding that although well versed in several instruments, that’s his forte.

Trefry will be on bass for the upcoming show.

The audience can expect songs from John Prine, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash, as well as Bell’s lyrics and melodies that transcend many genres.

Art and music often imitate life, and Bell’s songwriting isn’t an exception from that.

Within in his piles of filled notebooks, he writes songs based on life, as well as some that are completely fictitious.

More recently, he wrote a song called “Hockey Night in Canada” for CBC’s SongQuest contest, won by Pictou County folk favourite Dave Gunning.

He never ended up actually entering the contest, but it gave him a good excuse to write.

He has 48 songs uploaded on a website called Fandalism, which allows listeners to access his music freely as well as connecting artists across the world.

Bell isn’t producing music with the intention to profit. He simply wants it be heard.

“It’s nice to have someone enjoy your music because that’s why you do it.”

He’s been doing it for a long time.

Bell started playing when he was 12 years old and his father bought him a guitar and fiddle.

He began by playing at parties, jamming to Hank Williams tunes, the Allman Brothers and Bob Dylan.

His sound evolved from country into rock ’n ’ roll, and settling down with southern rock.

He’s been playing in bands with Ernie Trefry since the 1970s, and recorded a self-titled album as part of the Billy Bell Band in 2009.

The Billy Bell Brunch begins at noon on Sunday with no cover charge.

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda 

Organizations: Billy Bell Band, CBC, Allman Brothers

Geographic location: Eureka, Canada, Pictou County

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