Black River Drifters


Pure, good time, powerhouse country rock. They look like they’re having the time of their lives up there
— Roots Music Canada review of Moose n' Fiddle set, 2019

Active Since: 2014
Home location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Sounds Like: Jason Isbell, Ryan Adams, Hank III, Allman Brothers, Blue Rodeo
Members: Don Norman (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Ryan Cyr (lead vocals, drums), Leo Kopelow (electric guitar), Kevin Morin (bass)
Releases: Hearts Gone Cold (2015), Drive by Feel (2018)

Very good, very low-down …★★★★

Winnipeg’s Black River Drifters draw on the past but push the boundaries of alt-country/roots rock. Their two albums have won praise from fans and critics alike, and their raucous live show appeals to music lovers from all walks of life.

Often compared to Jason Isbell, Ryan Adams and The Old 97s, BRD’s debut album Hearts Gone Cold received praise from local and national press when it was released in 2015, and early reviews of their second album Drive by Feel are even stronger. In the words of the Winnipeg Free Press’ Jeff Monk the “hard folk sound and darker lyrical subject matter reveals a mature feel... a whole new realm of listenability.”

The band’s sound is framed by principal songwriter Don Norman and realized by the powerful dual lead vocals of Norman and drummer Ryan Cyr. Their combined harmonies have been described by the Winnipeg Free Press as "revealing a depth of emotion and a striking grasp of how two voices can ideally mesh." Cyr and bassist Kevin Morin (bass) hold down a tight rhythm section and Leo Kopelow's down to earth — and at times unhinged — lead guitar completes the package.

Black River Drifters' latest release, Drive by Feel, was launched digitally on all major platforms in February. The band is currently playing summer festivals and working on an upcoming 5-song EP. Video production for the first single, Heavy Gun, is scheduled for fall 2019.

Back-road ramblers deliver
a good swift punch to the ears
— exclaim

video introduction to the band

Manitoba country album of the year. ★★★★★
— winnipeg free press (2018)
Dark spirits of bygone days, good stuff.
— Bryan Kehoe (Alice in Chains, Les Claypool)


  • Roots Music Canada gave glowing review of live performance at Moose n’ Fiddle Festival in Nestor Falls, ON.

  • These Chains I'm In selected as a Top Video Pick of the Week by The Alternate Root Magazine

  • 5-star review in Winnipeg Free Press.

  • Completed second album with producer Todd Hunter and engineer Michael Falk (Weakerthans, JP Hoe).

  • Completed video for first single.

  • Shared bills with Grapes of Wrath, New Meanies, Ridley Bent, Union Duke, Sean Burns, The Honeysliders and more.

  • Performances at a number of Manitoba and Ontario festivals

  • Airplay on CBC and college radio, regular interviews on college radio

  • Debut album release selected as one of CBC's "Top 5 Things to Do This Weekend"

  • Mentions on, Folk Alliance Region West, Americana Music News, Exclaim Magazine, and Twang Nation

new album review

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Wildly successful sold out show…
atmosphere was electric
— Winnipeg River Advocate

select music videos

A whole new realm of listenability
— Jeff Monk, Winnipeg Free Press



Press contact: Don Norman |


©2018 Black River Drifters