Vancouver-based, Petunia & the Vipers, will be returning to Harrison with their swingin country blues rockabilly tunes Saturday, May 2 at 8 p.m. in the intimate Harrison Memorial Hall.
“At the 2013 Festival, Petunia & the Vipers’ beach stage performance got everyone’s attention,” recalls Andy Hillhouse, Artistic Director of the Harrison Festival Society, “They truly stand out among the acts touring on the roots circuit these days.”
With a piercing gaze, Petunia looks into the collective soul of the audience, then launches into high and lonesome vocals that conjure up the spirit of Jimmie Rodgers. Not content with mesmerizing the crowd, Petunia’s tapping boot propels the band into a snarling fire and brimstone rave-up as a wave of frantic jitterbuggers compete for space on the hardwood dance floor.
“The band is led by songwriter Petunia, who delivers his evocative, retro songs with an arresting voice that moves between rockabilly snarls and ghostly falsetto,” says Hillhouse.
Petunia defies convention. His style is unique and surreal and his live performances have been likened to an Avant-Country nightclub scene straight out of a David Lynch movie. His honest, cut to the heart song writing and multi-syllabic narratives would leave a lesser singer tongue-tied and breathless.
One of the many themes running through Petunia’s lyrics relates to living life on one’s own terms – fearlessly and without regret. Spending the early part of his career playing on every major street corner, subway station and park bench in Canada and NY city, he picked, grinned and sang for his living.
Joining Petunia are the Vipers, a band consisting of some of Western Canada’s finest, including former members of rockabilly legends Ray Condo’s Ricochets and Sarah McLachlan’s band. This group of skilled, imaginative, and tasteful players accompanies Petunia with the classic sounds of pedal steel, electric guitar, stand up bass, and drums.
“Despite the clear references to older styles like the country blues of Jimmy Rodgers, the classic country of Hank Williams, or Western swing music, Petunia & the Vipers come across as refreshing and original, and will put a smile on your face and a swing in your step,” says Hillhouse.
Petunia’s music is infectious: his singing ranges from the most delicate you’ve ever heard to the most powerful, often within a single song.It’s hillbilly flavoured, swing inflected, ragtime, goodtime music.
Tickets for Petunia & the Vipers are $22 and can be purchased online at www.harrisonfestival.com, by phone at 604-796-3664 or in person at the Ranger Station Art Gallery in Harrison and Agassiz Shoppers Drug Mart on Pioneer Ave.