The Sweet Lowdown


The Sweet Lowdown, 2018 Photo: Robin Gartner

Photo: Robin Gartner

With the rough waters of the Pacific around them and the wilds of the Canadian North above them, THE SWEET LOWDOWN (Amanda Blied, guitar; Miriam Sonstenes, fiddle; Tad Ruszel, mandolin) have developed original acoustic roots music that draws from earth and sky. You’ll hear influences as far-ranging as Appalachian fiddling, contemporary pop, Celtic jigs and a blend of driving tradition and ground-breaking originality. The Sweet Lowdown draw on traditional styles, but are not beholden to them, instead blazing a new trail with original songwriting and innovative instrumentals.

Since first coming together in 2007, The Sweet Lowdown have recorded three full length albums, two EPs, among other projects, received numerous awards and award nominations, toured Canada, the US and the UK. Highlights include performances at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, Canmore Folk Fest and a tour with Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Cafe in 2015. In 2017 banjo player and founding member Shanti Bremer left the band to pursue other goals and The Sweet lowdown was joined in 2018 by Tad Ruszel on mandolin, vocals and guitar. Expect to hear much of The Sweet Lowdown’s original material with a slight new twist, along with brand new music penned by all three members. 

The Sweet Lowdown have the ability to play to and engage a diverse audience – young and old, lovers of traditional music as well as those new to it. As well as sharing their love of music in performance, the band has taught instrumental workshops and harmony singing at camps and festivals across Canada.


Born and raised in the traditional territories of the Lekwungun and Cowichan Tribes, Southern Vancouver Island and Gulf islands, AMANDA BLIED brings an old time feel to her guitar playing and a scientific twist to her songwriting. 


Fiddler Miriam Sonstenes performs, composes and teaches music in Victoria BC. Growing up in Germany, music was an integral part of her childhood, and her versatile sound has grown out of a love of many styles.


Tad Ruszel joined The Sweet Lowdown in 2018. Originally from Vancouver Island, he  has been playing music his whole life, writing and performing as a solo artist and with numerous west coast bands. He brings distinctive vocals and skillful mandolin playing to the trio.


A founding member of the band, SHANTI BREMER grew up in Olympia, Washington, where she began learning bluegrass banjo at the age of 11. After moving to Victoria, BC, Bremer continued to refine her bluegrass sound and also discovered–and became smitten with–clawhammer banjo.  In 2017 she left The Sweet Lowdown to pursue other goals ( She continues to play and write music on Vancouver Island.


“A force to be reckoned with.” Fiddler Magazine

“Harmonies to die for, fabulous playing, great original material.” Ian Anderson, fRoots Magazine

“Whatever the X factor is that makes for a standout… Canada’s The Sweet Lowdown undoubtedly have it in spades.” Jeremy Searle, R2 Magazine

“… they make some of the sweetest bluegrass and old-time music this side (and the other side) of The Great Divide.” 

Peter Cowley, live performance review, FATEA Magazine


 “It was a pleasure to host The Sweet Lowdown and I would recommend them to any music presenters … […] Do yourself a favour and hire this band!” 

Steve Gedrose, Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival

“The disc is much more than three women who sing well together. For sure, they do sing like birds, and their harmonies are sweet, if not lowdown… But the Sweet Lowdown have instrumental chops galore.”

Mike Sadava, Penguin Eggs

“While their old-time instrumental groove is engaging… it’s the trio’s breezy vocals that are the center of attention on this project… Their rustic purity and earthy sensuality is the heart of the current roots music revival… Each of the young women sings with their own unique flair… With a fresh sound and originality, they’re walking a musical road with a clear vision for their songs.”

Joe Ross, Roots Music Report

“The Sweet Lowdown… showcase astounding exchanges of melodies between all members. The Sweet Lowdown is an incredibly original CD that recreates an old-time feel for contemporary compositions.”

Marshal Hignett, !earshot

“If you’re a Sweet Lowdown fan, you probably fell in love with them for their rich bluegrass harmonies, formidable musicianship, and old-time folk sound. You’ll be thrilled with their third album, MAY.”

Andrea Routley, The Coastal Spectator

“It’s not often that I am awestruck by an acoustic band…”

Brandon Wright, Culture Vulture Victoria

“They play an old time music that is… sweet and the vocals are ethereal.”

BC Musician Magazine



Roots Duo/Group Recording of the Year


Ensemble of the Year



The Sweet Lowdown endorses L. R. Baggs pickups and preamps.

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $157 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.

Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil  a investi 157 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.