Performing arts student Fern Marwood wants to make a difference with her music

Fern Marwood aims to show Canada her country-folk playing jams. Marwood recently joined the performing arts program at Algonquin College to expand her skills and gain a professional following. Getting agents and connections is one of her main goals while she’s at the college. But she would also love to start acting more. Marwood said […]
Photo: Noah Leafloor
Graham Lindsey and Fern Marwood play music for the Tay Valley Township Anniversary Picnic in the Maberly Community Park on Sept. 16.

Fern Marwood aims to show Canada her country-folk playing jams.

Marwood recently joined the performing arts program at Algonquin College to expand her skills and gain a professional following.

Getting agents and connections is one of her main goals while she’s at the college. But she would also love to start acting more. Marwood said she may decide to continue in another program after her one year of performing arts.

Outside of school, she’s a multi-instrumentalist. Marwood plays the fiddle, banjo and is improving on her singing for future performances.

So who is she really? She’s a horseback-riding country girl playing folk music.

Her biggest inspiration are the East Pointers, and specifically, banjo player Koady Chaisson. “He’s the reason I started playing banjo,” she said.

Marwood plays Celtic, Irish and Scottish folk music with her sister Willow Marwood and long-time folk musician Graham Lindsey. They play as a trio called the Broken Bridges which they formed in 2020.

The Marwood sisters met Lindsey in past gigs and events like festivals. He decided to help them with their careers and they formed the group later on.

However, soon after the trio formed, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forcing them to practise and play virtually.

At one point, it was unknown whether the group would still be intact after the pandemic. Fortunately, Lindsey was able to be in their bubble so they could practice and produce together.

They ended up producing the 2021 album The Porch Sessions where all of the sales went to Fern and Willow to support their careers. They were then nominated for the 2021 Canadian Folk Music Awards.

The Marwoods also joined with Amelia Shadgett, whose stage name is Irish Millie, to form the band the Receivers in 2022. They were then nominated for a 2023 Canadian Folk Music Awards. The Receivers flew out to Vancouver where the awards were presented. They ultimately did not win but were just as happy to be recognized.

The Marwood’ first played in Prince Edward Island in 2015 and then in a film festival every year there.

The Receivers played in Prince Edward Island this year where they performed on stage for the first time and then later recorded three tracks in Lindsey’s home after the awards.

Now, back in Ontario, Fern Marwood travels across the province to performs gigs with the Broken Bridges while also in school.

The trio performs in all types of events. They bring along Chase, a dancing dog, to wow the audience with something fresh.

Although Marwood has branched coast to coast, she’s unsure about what she really wants to do with her music.

“My sister and I are going through a bit of an identity crisis right now because we don’t know where we fit in just yet,” said Marwood.

“I just want to play the right type of music to get a big enough following so that we can make it as musicians because it’s very hard to make it in the folk world unless you have a really good gig,” she said. “We would like to keep playing the music that we love, but also the music that other people will listen to.”

Marwood added, “There’s also this love to have enough reach to really make a difference in the world. That’s all we really want is to make a living out of events and try to make a difference for people.”

The Broken Bridges also find it hard to get a following with the type of music they play, which is why they started to sing. “People love the singing. Even when we have some folk songs, people freak out,” she said.

The Broken Bridges’ ambitions are high but the members have different performance goals. Fern Marwood prefers bigger audiences for more reactions, while Lindsey loves to connect with small crowds.

“I love seeing their reactions and dances while we play,” said Marwood. “I get animated when I see they’re enjoying the show, because it’s hard to pull myself out for a small crowd.”

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