NEXT STAGE #3 Mar 11 2005

Slide Guitar, Cabin Fever and Men in Dresses.

These are the people in your neighbourhood

I moseyed downtown to The Discovery Bar this past Saturday night to take in a set of The Canadian Blues All-Stars. I arrived just in time for quick introductions before the jam began.

These guys were having fun tonight. Each of the three front men, Dave Hoerl on harp, Pete Turland on upright bass and Brandon Isaak on guitar took turns singing and choosing songs. They picked them from all eras and areas of blues history. From Chicago to Texas and around to rockabilly, from the 1940’s to modern originals they covered a lot of stylistic ground.

Hoerl was working his harp into such a honking frenzy during one solo I thought my back fillings were going to melt. How anyone can manipulate such a strange little instrument to make such sound is well beyond my understanding of the laws of physics.

Isaak was definitely having a good time with some interesting and exploratory solo work. Turland an image of strength behind his instrument slipped easily into various bass styles the all the while holding down the backbeat with drummer Ed White.

After we left The Discovery Bar we walked on down the road to The Town and Mountain Hotel to check out the Swamp Donkeys. Outside Lizards we encountered a line-up and upon enquiry found some sort of pageant that involved men and dresses was in progress. While I have no problem with this sort of behaviour at the best of times, I felt my mood demanded a less jarring venue at that particular moment.

We ended up at Mama’s Pub in the T & M for coffee and a quiet end of evening with The Lilting Banshees. They were just the tonic to take the edge off the evening and dip into some conversation with friends. The Banshees are a great local Irish combo of guitar, pennywhistle, fiddle and bodhrán. I admit I’m not an aficionado of Celtic music but these guys can certainly “get jiggy wit it”.

Upstairs at the Yukon Inns’, Saddle Saloon, Cowboy Buck was playing songs of country love shucking and jiving with a real good bass accompaniment, while down stairs in the Boiler Room, B J MacLean was holding down the open stage.

I stayed for a few songs before I left, an open stage being that sort of informal setting. MacLean was asking for volunteers to come up and perform, though none answered the call.

This caught me as strange because here in Whitehorse we have ample opportunity through various venues for the public to exercise it’s raw talent of any ability to a mostly appreciative audience. Who’s to say who is a genius and who is only amusing? You have nothing to lose but your pride.

After some reflection, the idea of men in dresses in The Yukon shouldn’t seem so queer after the long winters we have. One would tend to come out of the cabin as it were… Oh, I’ve just been informed this was merely a run up to Rendezvous… never mind. Bill Polonsky