Thursday, June 30, 2011


The story goes that when the young Tragically Hip were trying to get a record deal in the early 80's, one Canadian record company wanted them to become a country band.  Since they fussily refused, we can only imagine now.  But I have a feeling The Hip would never go Nashville completely,.  Instead, they might have sounded like Toronto's Warped 45's.  With their second album just out, the rootsy folk in the band are digging into the country's soil, ready to join the alt-kinda crowd of twangy singer-songwriter groups, literate patriots.

There's lots of great acoustic-fiddly-mandoliny moments all over the album, and musically, the band have got it down.  This feels like real, woodshed-campfire-ski lodge Canadiana.  By the way, I've finally had to up to here with the genre Americana, since as far as I can figure, The Band pretty much invented it, and The Cowboy Junkies sparked the second wave of it with The Trinity Sessions, way before Uncle Tupelo, Jayhawks, etc.  So, it's now Canadiana.  Co-lead singers Dave and Ryan Wayne McEathron give the group a one-two punch, and have a love of telling a bunch of our stories.

Ryan Wayne wrote the most interesting story-song, Grampa Carl, about a 1920's rum runner from Ontario shipping bootleg brew across the Detroit River.  Dave's Pale Horse is a great way to start off the collection, that particular pony a classic folk song image.  Sometimes the lyrics are a little too clunky, including the desperate metaphor that starts the title cut, "Past the hectares of hay bails like curlers in an old woman's hair".  The song Victoria Day picks on an easy target, the British monarchy we still cling to.  And Live Bait, sung in the seller's voice, is more Red Green than the outlaw Steve Earle song they hoped for.  But there are plenty of other tales that are the work of solid troubadours, including Hurdle River Crossing, a good 19th century tale.

Road warriors already, The 45's are getting to see a lot of the land, going east to west and back again.  The next leg of their tour takes them towards the Atlantic.  You can and should catch them nearest you, at these fine establishments:

08/02- Montreal, QC - Divan Orange
08/03 St. Andrews, NB The Red Herring Pub
08/04 Fredericton, NB - The Capital
08/05 St John, NB - Peppers Pub
08/06 Halifax, NS- The Seahorse Tavern
08/08 Charlottetown, PEI - Baba's
08/09 Moncton, NB - Plan B

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