(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.
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.
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.
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.