The following was contributed to civl.ca by Pop Music From Around Here host Nathan Moes.
I like the suburbs. Not from a city planning perspective, but for events like that which happened at Fernridge Hall in South Langley on May 30th, 2009. Suburban musicians putting on legitimate shows in dilapitaded vinyl sided community halls, spurring the urban to revitalize their own communities with melodic entertainment. While lacking in aesthetics, the Hall sufficed, with a tiny stage filled with musicians. The evening kicked off late with Cassie McMartin & Evie Gendron playing a short collection of original material and covers. Covers of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and Heart’s “Magic Man” were particularly commanding.
The lineup reads like a list of Thursday Open Mic at the Murrayville Wired Monk regulars. I had only heard Paul Gillies play acoustic guitar work inside a coffee shop, and was pleased to see him playing with a full band. Opening with a driving sitar led instrumental, Gilles, accompanied by the absolutely phenomanal Steve Johnson on the electric guitar trecked a similar path of McMartin and Gendron, playing a mix of covers and originals. Gilles has an excellent voice, but I would have appreciated a bit of attitude along with it. Even a collared shirt to match his bandmates would have been nice. If you dress for the part…Whatever the case, a great set, the full band lending weight behind Gilles good songwriting
I caught most of Langston Steel’s set, but the 6:30AM start to my Saturday (Cleaned out the attic in the early morning coolness) had me fatigued. Steve Johnson again at the helm, Langston Steel plays rock’n'roll. And well. Johnson is one of the most skilled guitarists I have ever seen, but not simply technical, possessing an excellent feel for songs. This reality was appreciated by one fellow in the audience who, as dancers came and go, generally stuck around to interpret Johnson’s solo’s through dance. I couldn’t help think that for Johnson this was particularly fun. It’s kind of like controlling a puppet, pull a string to to get the head thrown back, really ripping to recieve a pained, melting face look on your audience member… Entirely competant, the drum and bass backing Johnson well, with style to match, Langston Steel, while loving the suburbs, deserve to be well recieved in our urban areas as well. I hope they begin to book downtown…but still occasionally come back to pay homage to their suburban roots.