The Clearing is truly the epitome of a working band. In addition to being in demand as a cover band, this Toronto based trio is constantly building their repertoire of original music, writing independently, in collaboration with each other and partnered up with various producers on the Toronto scene. They have played well over two hundred gigs in the past two years, and if you haven’t seen or heard them, you likely will at some point soon: their sweet, hooky originals will have you wondering where you’ve heard them before, while their effortless performances and inventive acoustic arrangements of classic, top 40, modern and alternative hits are nothing if not infectious. By the time you’re a few beats in, you might just notice your feet moving all on their own.
The three piece lineup features Stephan LaCasse on vocals and acoustic guitar, Eric Boucher on acoustic guitars and background vocals, and Jay Starr on percussion, a grouping that may sound stripped-down in theory, but packs a musical punch that is as subtle as it is powerful. Their natural stage presence is highlighted by an obvious musical chemistry, with harmonies that fall from their lips as easily as the words themselves, compelling the audience to dance closer to the stage.
Boucher and Starr both hail from New Brunswick on Canada’s east coast, and LaCasse is from BC. They all came to Toronto to insert themselves into the midst of Canada’s busiest music scene, joining or forming other bands, and performing as solo artists before coming together as The Clearing in 2008. Some of the bands they have individually been involved with include the hard rocking Latefallen, which Stephan fronted, east coast punk outfit Jar, which Eric fronted, and the groove-rock band Apollo Effect, with whom Jay played bass. Musical diversity notwithstanding, they cite influences from bands that include Steve Miller, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Band, and more recently, the Lumineers, with each of their individual influences and sensibilities managing to find their way into the collective. It all combines to form their own unique sound, delivered with an up-close-and-personal intimacy before it reaches into your heart to give it the final squeeze.
Their first release dropped in 2010, a five-song EP titled Comfort in a Sound, which still holds true to their sonic delivery with dulcet, heartfelt songs that might be described as a cross between Jack Johnson and Joel Plaskett with shades of Dave Matthews and the Goo Goo Dolls. Their collaborative efforts have brought them together in the studio with producers John Critchley (Elliott Brood, Dan Mangan, The Once) and Vic Branco, with whom they recorded the songs Isn’t It Love and Hold On Tight, and lately, they have been collaborating with Matthew Von Wagner (USS, Alpha Galates, A Primitive Evolution). New singles are often released in between gigs: in 2015, they released the song Morning Sunrise, which along with their latest, All We Know, continues to receive airplay on satellite radio, and specifically on their favourite online show, Eastern Passage, on Blues and Roots Radio. The show’s host, Craig Mills, ‘discovered’ the band while they were performing a covers gig at Toronto’s Bier Markt, and has gone on to feature their music regularly on his syndicated show, which airs on several internet radio stations around the world.
You might find The Clearing on any given evening playing in and around Toronto, or literally anywhere throughout Ontario. However, their gigs aren’t limited to bars and nightclubs: they often do private parties, house concerts, weddings and corporate functions, the popularity of which helped them make it into Gigmasters ‘Best Of’ in 2014. No matter where they are playing or whom they’re playing for, The Clearing have truly established themselves as a force of nature, determined to ride the musical wave wherever it takes them next.