Nice to see you again. It's been too long.
I am corresponding from an unseasonably cold Pembina, Alberta. It's about an hour out of Edmonton.
I'm on the road this summer with my dear friend Samantha Martin (whose album "Back Home" I produced) and 2 gospel/soul singers (Stacie Tabb & Sherie Marshall, respectively).
Last night we played The Pembina River Nights Music Festival. As fate would have it, headliners Lee Harvey Oswald (the psych-folk project of Canadian icon Tom Wilson) had to catch an early flight, so they traded their headling time slot for our slot before them. Closing out a Friday night music fest in Alberta? OK THEN.
Lee Harvey Osmond has had many great players in its employ over the years (Aaron Goldstein and Brent Titcomb come to mind immediately), but LHO's lineup at this show was primarily a trio, rounded out by the stoic rhythm section of John Dymond and Ray Farrugia. A few songs in, they introduced the talented Steven Fearing on electric guitar. Nice.
John and I have played together on stage as the rhythm section for the Sleepwalk Guitar Festival (curated by Luke Doucet), backing up the greatest guitarists alive, from James Burton (Elvis) to Nels Cline (Wilco) and beyond. Watching him climb the neck of his bass with a rapier-quick precision was a treat. You can tell these guys have been playing together for a while, and their friendship radiates to the audience. Ray brought a very cool, at times voodoo-like vibe to their overall sound. A dangerously versatile drummer.
Tom Wilson is a smart man. He peppered LHO's set with "Dig It" (a successful solo tune of his) and "Shine", arguably the best song from his former band, Junkhouse. It's enough to keep old fans happy, and new fans searching the crates for his earlier material. Tom has a deep, rich baritone voice that is all his own, but it should be noted that he is a great guitarist with a firm grasp on tremolo and delay effects. He pulled out a virtual cornucopia of tones from an old John Lennon style acoustic. Plus, his stage banter is warm, at times hilarious, and constanly engaging.
So, we had to follow THAT. This was our first show with this lineup, and the sound is sort of a mix of swamp-y gospel with furry slide guitars. I play kick drum, hi hats/tambo, electric guitar and man my own vocal effects. Sam and the ladies brought the thunder, and it was nice to watch the group win over a reluctant crowd. It's always nice to get an encore, even when now one knows who you are. I ran into another musician this morning, T Buckley, and he said the show was "life changing". What a sweet thing to hear, coming from another respected musician.
We are off to Valleyview AB for a house concert tonight. If last night was a testament to anything, this tour is going to be a blast.
Thanks for reading.
High five the elderly.