Tomorrow night, Winnipeg’s Lindsey White Band arrives for a gig at The Matchbox. Performing soul and blues music with a DIY-rock attitude, the smooth voiced keyboardist presents original songs alongside choice covers. Tickets for this 7:30 concert are available from the theatre at 403-341-6500.
Matt Anderson brings his blues rock to The Vat Pub May 1. A mainstay on the Eastern Canadian roots music scene, Anderson will be in the midst of an extended western swing when he arrives in Red Deer with the Hupman Brothers. The Vat also hosts a songwriter circle on May 4 with Rob Heath, Crystal Plamondon, Laurie Kerr, and Emma-Lee.
This week’s CD reviews:
United Steel Workers of Montreal
Three on the Tree
One of Montreal’s most popular live acts, the United Steel Workers of Montreal combine country, bluegrass, folk, and rock elements in a manner similar to — but not exceeding — roots supergroup The Knitters.
There is little on this third album that is groundbreaking. Ballads revealing poor decision-making and tough times bump up to hard rocking drivers that aren’t nearly as dark as they seem. Nonetheless, the album provides more than a terrific listen, allowing those of us who don’t live on the wild side opportunity to vicariously experience others’ exploits.
This tough, edgy blend may be favoured by those who have enjoyed Drive-By Truckers, the Earl Brothers, and The Gourds; USWM’s music attacks the listener without being obnoxious.
The instrumentation is not dissimilar to that emanating from any roots bar, but Matt Watson’s electric guitar work encourages the sound above and beyond a boisterous din. Banjo, accordion, and mandolin float in and out, providing a neat, tight tapestry of music.
Vocally, listeners are in for a treat. Gern f — yes, that’s his name — has a growl that wouldn’t be out of place on any Bloodshot compilation, but he never slips into parody. The songs possess a tension, and one is unsure if he is going to keep things between the lines.
However, Gern f. is a rich, melodic singer; the subtle textures of his voice are likely missed on first listen, but with familiarity one comes to more fully appreciate the complexity of his sound.
Also impressive are Shawn ‘Gus’ Beauchamp’s killer honky tonk lead vocals; he can flat out sing a country song, as revealed on Son, Your Daddy Was Bad.
Balancing the male voices is the spry-voiced Felicity Hamer, who takes lead on a few tracks while providing lovely harmony throughout. The Ballad of Mary Gallagher is certain to haunt listeners, a contemporary folk tale of a life unjustly ended.
Three on the Tree is an intriguing example of Canadian music, and a breath of freshness amidst the quaint faux folk permeating the roots landscape.
This one has taken much too long to review; I’ve been enjoying it for months.
An East Tennessean now calling Alabama home, Jay Clark is one of hundreds of singer-songwriters producing quality music, offering insights into the way he perceives the world. Like John Prine, whom he vaguely recalls, what separates Clark from others in the roots world is his willingness to turn the focus away from himself while maintaining an integral intimacy with his subjects.
An ambitious album, I’m Confused takes its title from a song subtitled A Christian’s Lament of How the Right Wing of the Republican Party Has Distorted My Faith.
Clark is unabashedly a Christian man, one that has seen his country split along religious and political lines that appear counter to common sense. And while the climate and mood of the United States appears to be changing, Clark’s exploration of paths down which Americans have wandered for eight years is astute.
Not everything is maudlin. A trio of drinking songs — Another Round, Free Beer Tomorrow, and Lifetime of Drinkin’ — allow Clark to stretch into a lighter arena, although the latter song is as lonely as anything Guy Clark (no relation) has written. Third Shift in the Coal Mines delves deep into Clark’s rural roots; with its stark images and mournful moan, this number recalls Darrell Scott.
Over the course of three albums, Jay Clark has displayed a consistency of performance and songwriting that is staggering. I’m Confused is well deserving of the effort it will take to track down; with songs of the quality of Anna Lee and Reflectors, Clark remains in my Top Five of contemporary singer-songwriters.
Donald Teplyske is a local freelance writer who contributes a twice-monthly column on roots music; visit fervorcoulee.wordpress.com for additional reviews. If you know a roots music event of which he should be aware, contact him at email@example.com