B.C. folk artists, banjo makers rise from ashes after shop burns down

Last summer, a fire ripped through the Horsefly, B.C., banjo shop of Juno-winning folk artists Pharis and Jason Romero.

But now, the couple are back in business, building custom banjos and touring B.C. with their music.

"It was a very stressful summer, because we had started building a new house before the fire," Jason told Radio West host Audrey McKinnon. "We lost part of the house, and our shop and all our precious old instruments. Just pretty much everything."

He says 10 to 15 people were on their property every day helping them rebuild over the course of six months.

Beyond that, Pharis says, the local community came together to help them with the things they needed to replace and they even received gifts from as far away as Wisconsin.

"I've never felt so in touch and embraced without being touched," she said.

Long waiting list for custom banjos

The couple say they are easing their way back into the banjo business. They make custom banjos by hand that are so in demand, they have a five-year waiting list.

They say some of the first banjos they are making are "out of the ashes" banjos, made with wood that survived the fire.

"There was enough wood there to make six to 10 banjos," Jason said. "A lot of the bronze survived — we use a lot of bronze on banjos, and it has a very high melting point — so we were able to dig for days and days and recover quite a bit of the bronze."

Pharis says the fire, the rebuilding and the birth of their second child, all last summer, has influenced her songwriting. She says she's gone through what she calls a "prolific" writing period of happy, optimistic songs.

"I would call them all love songs, of a sort," she said. "A lot of that is that base feeling of love I have for my partner, my family, but it's appreciative love."

Pharis and Jason Romero will spend much of April touring Western Canada.

Listen to the full interview:

With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West