What was once St. James Church, in the Kitsilano neighbourhood of Vancouver, is now a fantastic acoustic venue for folk music—traditional, bluegrass, Celtic, Roots, and every other kind and combination. That’s where I saw the Breakmen, five harmonizing guys with three guitars, a mandolin or two, a banjo, a stand-up bass, a slide guitar, a harmonica and various noisemakers and shakers (I said five guys, right?). At the release party for their CD When You Leave Town the capacity crowd had a diversity of ages that is more usual at a wedding reception or Madonna concert. Shared happiness mixed with nostalgia fuels the songs on this CD, which I was still humming days after the party. Two weeks later, I visited the home of the Breakmen’s banjo player in East Van for another kind of acoustic experience—to lend an ear to New Old Stock. About forty of us crowded into the house, and some people had brought a few extra chairs. The name of the band conjured for me a group of hootin’ and hollerin’ bluegrass old-timers with washboard, broomstick bass, moonshine jug and a few dirty kids, so I was surprised by the number of chairs—I thought we’d be stomping around—but the four musicians were young, clean and solemn. Once they started playing, however, they proved they had the talent and experience to support their name, and the collaboration of banjo, cello, five-string fiddle and hammered dulcimer produced music that was expansive and rolling, like the background score for a documentary of the hills of Scotland or wild horses charging across a dusty plain—which created a cerebral experience rather than a physical one.