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Brewster returns with ‘Buffalo Street’

By Larissa Barlow , Banff Crag and Canyon

Cori Brewster’s roots in Banff trump most everyone else’s. Her family has been here since 1886 and the Brewster name is hardly unknown in town. So it’s fitting that Brewster’s fourth album is a 10-song narrative of Banff’s history, aptly titled Buffalo Street. Each song has a little bit of Banff history – as well as some Brewster history – that brings to life the colourful early stories of the town. It’s a brilliant tribute to the town she grew up in and a glimpse of the Brewster family.

Though it didn’t start out that way. “I didn’t really approach the thing going, ‘I’m a Brewster, I’m going to write stories about the Brewster’s,’” she said from her Canmore home. “It wasn’t until I got the CD and held the booklet in my hand that I realized it was quite a tribute to the Brewster family.”

The idea to make a narrative album bringing Bow Valley history alive began back in 2006. Brewster had written a song with Bob Remington called William Twin, about a Stoney Nakota band member who worked for the Brewster family in 1888.The song was finalist for the Best Song of Alberta contest during the Calgary Folk Music Festival and became a hit when she performed it live. It gave her the idea to delve a little deeper for her next album and make it a historical project.

That took her to the Whyte Museum, where she spent hours looking through old texts searching for hidden treasures. “I just really approached it organically and let one thing lead me to the next,” she said. “Other than my university studies, I’d never done a lot of historical research. And I’d certainly consider myself more of a storyteller than a historian. You pick the gems you want to write about, but not historical enough that it becomes boring.”

Some songs on the album Brewster sings in the first person, giving it that extra emotional touch that helps bring these characters to life. While they’re not all about the Brewster family, each song carves out its own little pieces of history. My Familiar Sky is about Peter and Catharine Whyte, and Trono is about Bankhead born musician Louis Trono.

Brewster said she was originally going to include Volume 1 in the title of this album, “but I thought, ‘wow that’s too much pressure,’” she laughed. But it doesn’t mean she’s ruled it out retuning to the archives to seek out more interesting stories for a Volume 2. “I’m certainly interested in digging more and I’m certainly interested in spending more time in the Whyte Museum and finding more secret stories,” she said. But until then, Brewster is promoting Buffalo Street in the Bow Valley throughout the month.