Vaudevillian Stomps The DH

The Vaudevillian, Brendan James Stephens and Willow Walker, took the Dominion House by storm 27 February 2014. The ragtime duo transport audiences back to a grittier, simpler time. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

The Vaudevillian, Brendan James Stephens and Willow Walker, took the Dominion House by storm 27 February 2014. The ragtime duo transport audiences back to a grittier, simpler time. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Header-image-Shalapata-2By Ian Shalapata

(WINDSOR, ON) – With rockabilly memories of Brian Setzer and the Stray Cats threatening to enter the picture, Kitchener-based The Vaudevillian erased all pretence with their no nonsense throw-back to the beginning of rock and its origins in Delta and Jump Blues.

Frontman Brendan James Stephens strums, stomps, slaps, and spits his way through a typical Vaudevillian performance. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Frontman Brendan James Stephens strums, stomps, slaps, and spits his way through a typical Vaudevillian performance. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

The Vaudevillian, comprised of Brendan James Stephens on guitar and an assortment of irregular instruments, like the carzoobamaphone, resonator, and suitcase, and Willow Walker keeping the beat on washboard and bells, and chiming in on back-up vocals, takes you for a musical tour back to the 1920’s. If you think of the silent movie era, WC Handy, and Charlie Chaplin intertwined with a back-country dirt road, a hot summer day, and some scat, thrown in for good measure, you’ll almost have a Vaudevillian performance.

Willow Walker strokes the washboard in provocative percussion for the Kitchener-based The Vaudevillian. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Willow Walker strokes the washboard in provocative percussion for the Kitchener-based The Vaudvillian. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

One part visual and three parts music, Stephens and Walker put on a gritty review at the Dominion House in Sandwich last night. They took the audience back in time to a simpler era, but the music was anything but. Regaled in the splendour of the itinerant farmer, a beater and suspenders, all ideas of gimmick were sent packing when Stephens started playing a selection of traditional and original songs. He’s a technically proficient guitarist with the added skill of stage presence, even though he sat in a chair for the whole set. He sat down, but Stephens didn’t sit still, instead stomping, slapping, and picking his way through the set list.

Walker was decked out in a green corset and garter but proved to be more than just an after-thought. She strummed and clicked the washboard in time with the often changing tempo without missing a beat. Walker also added the high, mono-note vocals that completed the trip back in time.

According to their website, the ragtime duo will next appear at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club in Toronto on April 27, but it is hard to imagine either Stephens or Walker to be sitting still for long. If you hear of them appearing in your area, it is highly recommended that you make every effort to see The Vaudevillian if at all possible.

You can find more information about The Vaudevillian at the website where you can also listen to the tracks from their three albums. You can also like The Vaudevillian on Facebook.

The act last night was presented by ChurcHouse, the Forest Glade-based music collective and concert promoter, and was opened by Mike McGrath performing a melange of rock covers from Pearl Jam and Neil Young, among others, and his own compositions. You’ll hear more of this emerging Windsor artist.

Windsor's own Mike McGrath opened for The Vaudevillian with a solid performance of his version of new rock standards and his original compositions.

Windsor’s own Mike McGrath opened for The Vaudevillian with a solid performance of his version of new rock standards and his original compositions. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

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About the Author

Ian Shalapata
Ian Shalapata is the owner and publisher of Square Media Group. He covers politics, the police beat, community events, the arts, sports, and everything in between. His imagery and freelance contributions have appeared in select publications and for organizations in Canada and the United States. Contact Ian with story ideas.
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