Derina Harvey Band brings a fresh approach to traditional music

By Allan Bradbury
Staff writer

On April 20, Derina Harvey Band (often styled dHb) will bring Celtic Rock and traditional folk music in a way you’ve probably never heard. The band is often likened to Newfoundland and Labrador’s Great Big Sea with more of a rock edge.

The group shot to fame on TikTok as their recording of “The Last Shanty” by Tom Lewis. The song was used as the background track to over 13,000 videos on the short-form video app. Many of the videos feature transitions that see people changing into pirate costumes.

The band recorded the song in 2016 and the First TikTok clips started to surface towards the end of 2020 taking the band by surprise.

“We released that particular song on an album called Rove and Go back in 2016, folks have been playing it on the radio and listening to it, however they listen to it, however this TikTok thing caught us wildly by surprise,” lead singer Derina Harvey said. “We didn’t even know what TikTok was and we had friends and family saying ‘hey Derina you’re on the TikTok’”

As nice as it was to see that people were hearing their music, simply having the song used in those TikToks didn’t net the band anything besides exposure, and exposure doesn’t pay the bills.

“It’s so great for us to be a part of that creativity,” Harvey said. “Even though we’re kind of the wallpaper behind it. It’s absolutely lovely and has hit our hearts.”

Harvey said it’s definitely added to the number of people following the band on social media and other platforms. Their audience has grown globally.

Harvey says despite not seeing benefits from TikTok directly merchandise is being sent out all over the world.

“What happens is, when somebody creates a cool video, and that happens to go viral for them on their page, people look at the song and who’s singing the song,” Harvey said. “They might Shazam it (Shazam is an app which allows people to identify music they are listening to) if they hear it on the radio.”

Harvey said the number of people who have looked up their music on Shazam or asked iPhone’s Siri “what am I listening to” has gone up.

“The number of people who are listening to us globally has gone up too,” Harvey added. “We have a lot of listeners in Europe, we have a lot in the UK and all across the United States. That makes it amazing for us, because here we are in Alberta and we get orders for T-shirts and tank tops and sweaters and CDs signed and all that sort of thing and then we’re mailing them all over the world. It’s quite amazing and we are absolutely grateful and a little bit shocked.”

This new popularity has given way to the opportunity to perform concerts in new places as well. They played four shows on and around St. Patrick’s Day in Minnesota, for example.

Alberta-based Celtic rock Derina Harvey band will be taking the Townshend Theatre by storm on April 20. The band has a wide appeal, being likened to a rock version of Great Big Sea, with their music being used as the backdrop for over 13,000 TikTok videos. – Submitted photo

Their show in Fort Frances comes amid one of their longest tours ever. Starting in Kenora on Apr. 15 and then working their way into southern Ontario all the way to Chatham before coming back west with several stops in Saskatchewan on the way home to Alberta where the band is based.

Harvey said shows vary between the US and Canada. In the US they’re more apt to share stories about life in Canada and the east coast, where members of the band hail from.

“It might be a little different for our friends in the United States, because we might be sharing a little more about the cultural aspects that we grew up with, you know, Canadian coastal lifestyle,” Harvey said. “Some of that is already known to our friends across Canada, so it’s a little less on the educational side of things, and more ‘let’s just share some music together.’”

The music featured in the shows will come from a big catalogue with originals and traditional folk songs mixed together. Harvey says when they do their covers of other artist’s songs they do their best to honour the spirit of the song while putting their own twist on them.

One example is a song called Sarah popularized by Newfoundland staples Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers. The song was originally recorded a cappella by Buddy Wasisname but dHb have put their twist on it for their 2016 album Rove and Go by adding a full band complement of guitar, drum and fiddle along with speeding the song up.

They have also put their own twist on Steve Earle’s Galway Girl (not to be confused with the Ed Sheeran song of the same title).

“All of the musicians in the band have worked in different environments, different projects, and different genres if you will,” Harvey said. “So when it comes to the retelling of these classic east coast tales and these Celtic favourites, we try to hold the course of the original writer… but allow our own tastes and talents to guide how the song sounds and how we perform it.”

They also work in original material.

“When it comes to our original music, we have been adding more and more through recent years,” Harvey said. “The second album that we released in 2016, is an original song called Rove and Go. We are actually just finishing up the process for releasing our third album, which took a little time because we’re completely independent. But we are very excited to have seven original songs on the next album and we’re going to be sharing a few of those with your audience in Fort Frances and we’re excited to see how they’re received.”

Harvey says she hopes the show can bring people a full range of emotions.

“I think we have a complete show,” Harvey said. “A little something for everybody. We’ll have your toes tapping and we’ll give you a giggle and a laugh and maybe if you need a tear or two, we can do that too. Then, hopefully I’ll make you laugh again before I send you home.

Tickets for the Apr. 20 show at the Townshend Theatre in Fort Frances are available online at or in person at Ski’s Variety or the Fort Frances Public Library. The cost is $25.