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Jonny Stevens

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From 1997 to their disbanding in 2005, the New Breed were the Canadian Maritimes' answer to the anthemic, folk-influenced street punk of the Dropkick Murphys or the Swingin' Utters. Taking their cues from the Pogues, Billy Bragg, and hints of classic rockers like Thin Lizzy and Bruce Springsteen, the Halifax, Nova Scotia, band was led by singer and songwriter Jonny Stevens. Stevens grew up in the coastal Nova Scotia fishing village of Lunenberg and had worked as an apprentice shipwright as a teenager before moving to the provincial capital of Halifax in his late teens. Influenced equally by his first exposure to Halifax's thriving punk scene and his parents' classic rock and folk albums, Stevens formed the New Breed in 1997 and released four albums between 1999 and 2004: Blue Collar Blues, Day to Day, Port City Rebels, and Off the Beaten Path. Feeling constrained by the New Breed's street punk image and writing more overtly folk-influenced songs, Stevens broke up the New Breed in 2005 to embark on a solo career. Forming a new, quieter backing band called the Racket, with guitarist Norman Love, organist Ian Mosher, bassist Serge Samson, and drummer Chris Gillis, Stevens released his self-titled solo debut in the spring of 2007. ~ Stewart Mason