Homegrown Harmonies: Sheesham and Lotus, PS I Love You, Lost Cousins

By Jordan Whitehouse

It’s never been clear why, exactly, Kingston has been able to consistently produce solid homegrown musical talent like The Tragically Hip, Sarah Harmer and Bedouin Soundclash. Maybe it’s the supportive arts scene. Maybe it’s the abundance of music venues. Maybe it’s the limestone in the water. Whatever the reason, it’s a trend that continues.

More recently, three of the bigger names carrying the K-Town torch and making waves across Canada and elsewhere are Sheesham and Lotus, PS I Love You, and Lost Cousins. Keep reading for the lowdown on each.

Sheesham and Lotus



Hailing from Wolfe Island, Sheesham Crow, Lotus Wight and sometimes Son Sanderson got their start at the end of the twentieth century playing at the Kingston Public Market and outside the downtown liquor store.


It’s just “good time high-stepping music,” says Sheesham, and for this troupe that means a unique cross between old-time Americana, blues and ragtime. Fiddle, banjo and sousaphone are the backbone; vocals, harmonicas and handmade instruments compliment.


“We dress in clothing from the 1910s and use period instruments alongside instruments of our own creation, such as the contrabass-harmoniphonium and sepiaphonic monophone,” says Sheesham. “We put on a good show, besides! With foot lights and everything!”


PS I Love You



Launched in 2006, lead-singer and guitarist Paul Saulnier and drummer Benjamin Nelson have taken their indie rock band from Kingston’s bars and basements to around the world, picking up accolades from Pitchfork and Spin magazine, which named Saulnier the 99th greatest guitarist of all time.


Since Nelson joined, the duo has become known for soaring rock anthems with heart. As Saulnier says, “We are kind of abrasive but sometimes catchy, also weird rock n roll music. If you listen to our loud noise, you can hear sweet nice songs hiding inside it.”


“We often screw up, and it’s really charming,” says Saulnier. “Our shows are also loud and exciting. And I might play a guitar solo behind my head or something.”


Lost Cousins



Cam Duffin, Dylan Cantlon Hay, Thomas Dashney and Lloyd McArton formed Lost Cousins in the basement of a Kingston student house and played their first shows in the living room. They went on to reach the top 10 nationally in the CBC Searchlight competition.


This isn’t a band that easily fits into a category, but Cantlon Hay says that lately they’ve been using “psychedelic soul rock” to describe their sound. “While we formed as a rock band at heart, we’re largely influenced by R&B music, such as Motown and Stax.”


“Every time we take the stage we aim to take the audience on a rollercoaster ride,” says Cantlon Hay. “With songs varying from high-energy rockers to groovy soul jams, we love keeping the audience on their toes throughout the set, unaware as to what may happen next.”


The band recently released their debut music video for “Feel an Emotion,” shot in Poland, Norway and Berlin, and now they’re working on their debut full-length album. This summer, they’ll play in cities that include Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, New York, Boston and Chicago.