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Ballgag N’ Chain Gang is about having fun playing different music

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There ain’t no party like a ho tonk party with Victoria’s  Ballgag N’ Chain Gang.The Ballgag N” Chain Gang come to Lethbridge this week. Photo by Sara Peeling
 The entire band is all about having fun — and not being tied down to a specific genre, so they call themselves a “Ho-Tonk” band, which has nothing to do with honkey tonk music, though they use a lot of traditional instruments, not to mention a few non traditional instruments.

“Ho-Tonk music is a lot of different things. it is a philosophy, it is a religion. HoTonk is badass music, but cool music. It’s about having fun— having a good time and it has a lot to do with giving us a lot of creative freedom,” said  Adam Zonnis, aka Fat Jesus, who plays banjo, guitar, fiddle, trumpet, harmonica and is the lead singer in the band.

The Ballgag N’ Chain gang, who were a hit at the South Country Fair this past summer,  will be playing the Slice, Nov. 16.
The  “five -piece  musical juggernaut”  met at open mics but came together as the backing band for a fringe festival play called “Bullfrog Lullaby.”

“It was about a northern Ontario dominatrix,” he said.

 “We’d never played together before that show. We met at open mics and through friends,” he said.

 They recorded an EP and their debut CD as well as a video for “Everything Goes Better With Bacon.”, and recently released their second CD “Bang,” which was released in October.

“We listened to the EP and the debut CD, and discovered we didn’t know what we were doing, so we hired a professional producer (Wynn Gogol) who is a also a really good musician,” he said.
“We wanted to show  a bunch of the  different styles the band has. It came out a lot better than we expected. He helped us a lot of  arrangements and vocals,” he said.

The result captures the band’s generous helping of humour as well as  an array of musical styles from folk and country to hard rock and even a home made didgeridoo, played by  “The Good Doctor,” who also sings, plays guitar, trombone and Euphonium, as well as demonstrates “white guy dancing” during their song “White Guy Dance Party.”

“We actually will have a white guy dance party during that song, where white guys can come out and show  their dance moves and we’ll give away a CD or T-Shirt or something. Sometimes we get guys who can really dance who do breakdancing and things, and we’ll tell them they can’t win because they’re too good,” he laughed.

 Another highlight off their CD is “ Suck My Cock Rock.”
 “There’s a band in Victoria called Growler, who call themselves a cock rock band and they called us out. So we wrote the song about them. They have a song  called  Robocop, so we used the line “rock like Robocop” in our song. It’s a really fun live song to play,” he said.

“The Good Doctor plays didgeridoo. He makes them out of plastic tubing. But we also play horns, there’s mandolin and bass and vocal harmonies. And I even do some Tuvan throat singing. We don’t want to be limited by any one style of music or genre. And we go through phases of self-deprecating humour,” he said.
They were a hit at this summer’s South Country Fair.

“We had a great time there.  And we had an awesome response. It’s an awesome festival. We wish we could play the South Country Fair every year,” he said. The closest they have come to playing Lethbridge itself was at the Vent in Coaldale.

“We played the Ventura Hotel for a place to sleep. We got pretty drunk there, so I can’t remember a lot about the show,” he said, adding the band is looking forward to their Lethbridge debut.

“We’re playing with Toques and Beards who will open the show. They rock, so hopefully the crowd will be warmed up,” he
“ We like to start off shredding  some different instruments then we like to get the audience’s blood moving.  We’ll sing “Everything Goes Better with Bacon,” and the audience will shout back ‘We love bacon.’ Then we’ll get a little weird with the didgeridoo. And we like to play one long set of 18-20 songs. We’ll end  with the heavier songs like ‘Suck My Cock Rock,’ and  ‘Didgerideth.’
 Toques and Beards play with  the Ballgag N’ Chain Gang, Nov. 16 at 9:30 p.m. at the Slice.

— By Richard Amery, L.A Beat Editor
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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 15 November 2011 11:52 )  
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