“The blues never hurt anybody on a Sunday,” said Steve Keenan of the Steve Keenan Band, who opened an excellent night of blues music at the Geomatic Attic, Feb. 26, opening for the 24th Street Wailers.
I was pleased to see a sold out show for the 24th Street Wailers on Sunday as they’re a band I wanted to see live as soon as I heard their CD “Unshakeable,” And they did not disappoint even though they didn’t play anything off any of their albums, even the latest CD “ Where Evil Grows.”
Lead singer/ drummer Lindsay Beaver had an immediately appealing, ragged, bluesy voice reminiscent of Janis Joplin.
They have never been to Lethbridge, but played the Blues On the Bow, so some of the crowd had seen them before.
They dedicated their set to trying out brand new material on the receptive audience. The short Beaver also stood up while singing and playing drums, which was new for her as she observed she‘s so short nobody could see her behind her kit.
It worked. Despite a few technical issues, she cracked jokes and grinned at her husband / upright bassist Michael Archer.
Beaver and Archer looked like they just stepped out of the ’50s. The band themselves played a whole lot of old time, piano and saxophone driven rock and roll, while playing with a little jazz, a little rockabilly and a a lot of blues, not to mention huge doses of horn driven ’50s and ’60 Stax pop, R and B and soul music and a touch of the Sadies-style country psychedelia.
Saxophonist Jonny Wong stepped to the centre of the stage to take upbeat solos, which drew applause from the audience. Archer placed his ear to the body of his upright bass and dug in, before changing to electric bass for a couple of the faster songs. He even sang lead vocals on a song.
Guitarist Marc Doucet mostly kept to the back of the stage laying down rhythm, but also stepped to the front of the stage for a couple of perfectly formed solos.
Keyboardist Jesse Whiteley’s fingers were a blur as he did his best Jerry Lee Lewis impression, short of setting his keyboard on fire.
Considering Archer and Beaver are based in Texas and their band mates are in Toronto, the band was on fire.
There were a lot of highlights including “Lowlife ”and “She‘ll be Gone.”
Another highlight was a cover of Irma Thomas’ ’60s pop rocker “Breakaway” which sounded like “The Isley Brothers’ “You Make me Want to Shout.”
They wound down the set with Archer picking up an electric bass for a smoking , rocking couple songs featuring Beaver taking an incendiary drum solo.
They were called back for an encore, which was a complete contrast to the rest of the set as it was a gorgeous a capella number featuring everyone except Doucet, showing off their vocal harmonies.
The Steve Keenan band, an excellent blues rock band opened the show with a hit set of original blues/ rock and country music.
The band including Keenan on lead guitar and vocals, drummer Darwin Romanchuk, bassist David Popovitch and new lead guitarist Pete Watson played a variety of songs including brand new songs, more country inspired songs and older blues rockers including my favourite Keenan original “Whiskey Drinking Blues,” and their excellent, set ending cover of “Going Down.” At times Keenan sounded a little like Irish bluesman Rory Gallagher, especially on slower, more jammy numbers.
“Going Down,” featured some sweet harmonized guitar leads between Keenan and Watson, who, in addition to playing in unison, effortlessly traded leads, sometimes within the same song. A highlight was a slower countryish tribute to Keenan’s new daughter.
They ended their set with their hot version of “Going Down” which drew enthusiastic applause and calls for an encore.