Reformed folk-rock band The Grapes of Wrath play on Friday in Red Deer at Fratters Speakeasy.

Reformed folk-rock band The Grapes of Wrath play on Friday in Red Deer at Fratters Speakeasy.

Revivalist folk ’n’ roll on local stage

It’ll be 1980s folk-rock revival night in Red Deer next week, when The Grapes of Wrath and Bryan Potvin of Northern Pikes play a melodic, nostalgia-tinged show at Fratters Speakeasy.

It’ll be 1980s folk-rock revival night in Red Deer next week, when The Grapes of Wrath and Bryan Potvin of Northern Pikes play a melodic, nostalgia-tinged show at Fratters Speakeasy.

Reformed Canadian folk-rockers Grapes of Wrath will deliver some of their beloved old tunes as well as original new ones on Friday.

The concert’s special guest will be Potvin, a singer/songwriter and guitarist from Northern Pikes, who will also perform a solo acoustic set of his Saskatoon band’s hits.

The Grapes of Wrath was formed by two brothers and their high school friend in Kelowna, B.C., in 1983. The group, named for a John Steinbeck novel that none of the musicians had read, gained nationwide success with soaring harmonies, jangly guitars and poetic melodies — before breaking up acrimoniously in 1993.

The three founding members, singer/guitarist Kane, vocalist/bassist Tom Hooper and drummer Chris Hooper, have since resurrected the band known for producing a string of thoughtful, Beatles-esque hits, and recorded a new album together.

The Grapes started out as a campus radio darling, with the single Peace of Mind from the gold-selling record Treehouse in 1987.

Mainstream success followed with Now and Again in 1989. This first of the group’s two platinum-selling albums included contributions from the band’s new keyboardist, Vince Jones, and was recorded in an old — and supposedly haunted — church in Woodstock, N.Y. It spawned three Top 50 singles, including the quietly haunting What Was Going Through My Head and All The Things I Wasn’t.

In 1991, The Grapes of Wrath put out the more rock-driven release These Days, recorded in London’s famed Abbey Road Studio and released in the U.S. It contained the group’s highest-charting singles I Am Here and You May Be Right and won a 1992 CASBY Award for favourite alternative album from a Toronto radio station.

But trouble came at the height of the band’s popularity when Kane split from the group in 1993, and a court battle was waged over rights to the band’s name. (The Hoopers and Jones went on to perform as the band Ginger later in the 1990s.)

Chris Hooper told The Huffington Post in 2013 that it was a matter of growing resentment over expanding egos, creative differences and plain familiarity, as the longtime friends spent countless hours together on tour buses.

“You hit a point when you see each other more than your own family, when the same jokes … are no longer funny.” Hooper added they had to push each other away “to find our own space.”

“We should have hired therapists, not lawyers,” recalled Kane over the litigious limbo that resulted from the court battle.

But time healed the acrimony and the Hooper brothers and Kane reunited in 2009. They put out their first album of all new material as a trio in 22 years in 2013 called High Road, and have continued playing for fans that appreciate insightful songwriting and contemplative melodies.

The Northern Pikes were a folk-rock band formed in 1984.

The original members included Potvin, who wrote the band’s biggest hit, She Ain’t Pretty for the 1990 album, Snow in June. In 1992, he also wrote Believe, the biggest hit on the Neptune release.

The band was nominated for five Juno Awards before retiring as a group in 1993.

Northern Pikes was reformed in 1999 has continued making albums. When the band was inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2012, Potvin was among the members who performed at the ceremony.

Tickets to the Fratters show are $30 in advance from the venue, 53rd Street Music, The Soundhouse in Red Deer, or Lucid Tattoo Design in Sylvan Lake. For more information, call 403-356-0033.

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