Northbound 51 from Moose Factory, Ontario, Releases Debut Album
Band’s music, a mix of country and folk with rock influences,
tells the story of Cree identity past and present
(MOOSE FACTORY, Ontario, Oct. 28, 2021) — Northbound 51, a band hailing from Moose Factory, Ontario, has released “Northbound 51,” their self-titled debut album. “Northbound 51” refers to the north bound train that brings people to Moose Factory and the community’s coordinates of 51.2625 N, 80.5930 W — Muskegowuk territory (Peoples of the Muskeg).
Northbound 51’s music — a mix of country and folk with rock influences — tells the story of Cree identity past and present. “The album’s major theme is longing for our home, which is Moosonee and Moose Factory,” says band leader and bass player Stan Louttit. “We sing about how many of us travelled south to schools and hospitals or have been taken away to such places as residential schools. The northbound train takes us back home to our parents, grandparents, friends and loved ones.”
Like many people in their small mainly Cree community at the tip of James Bay, the band’s members — lead guitarist Darrell McLeod, lead singer and acoustic guitarist Marilyn Gunner-McLeod, and Louttit — have known one another for many years. They started to perform together in 2015. Realizing they liked the sound and emotion they felt when performing together, the trio began writing songs in 2018, which led to the release of this album.
The band members’ close tie to their Cree culture, traditions and beliefs is reflected in the album’s five songs. “Father Mother” remembers their Cree parents and grandparents who have passed on. “A phrase in the Cree language in the song pays homage right to the people,” says Gunner-McLeod. “In this song, I also was trying to convey the sense of the land, animals and birds that you hear when you’re in the bush or on a quiet river far inland,” says Louttit. “The wolf howl at the beginning can give a sense of the dark night or sky when you hear animals. The vastness of the land and the wind in the trees gives you a sense of immensity, power and beauty of the land.”
“Open Road” and “North Bound Train” speak about leaving and coming back home to those who will always be there for us when we return. “Run Together” talks about life relationships. “Keep On” reflects on loss while having the strength to keep going during tough times.
“We write about our identities, such as our fathers’ and mothers’ time when they lived a very hunting, land-based lifestyle,” says Louttit. “Many of our Cree people’s grandparents lived a traditional lifestyle and, in many ways, that is becoming the past. So, we find it important to sing about not only the stories our parents told us of their lives and hardships but also about the beauty of the land.”
“We’re probably more ‘North Americana’ in the sense that we combine country, folk and rock styles so that we’re not completely one or the other,” says Louttit. “We’d like to think we embody and understand those deep styles of music and we find that the roots are important.”
“Northbound 51” was produced by Stan Louttit and Trevor James Anderson with additional engineering by Dex Piecowye. The album was recorded and mixed by Trevor James Anderson at Noble Street Studios, Toronto. Mastered by Noah Mintz at Lacquer Channel Mastering, Toronto. Jeremy Kleyhans is featured on drums and Anthony Carone is on keys. All of the songs were written by Stan Louttit except “Run Together,” which was written by Marilyn Gunner-McLeod and Darrell McLeod. Album artwork is by Roberta Landreth.