United Steel Workers of Montreal and Lee Harvey Osmond at Lee’s Palace

Date of show: March 3, 2011

Having really enjoyed their album, Young and Old, I was curious to see how Harlan Pepper’s music stood up live. Made up of some of Hamilton’s youth – drummer Marlon Nicolle, guitarist Jimmy Hayes, keyboardist Dan Edmonds and bassist Thompson WilsonHarlan Pepper opened up the night. They were incredibly laid back and were certainly not about the bells and whistles of performing. For them, it just seemed to be a fun jam session, with Edmonds and Wilson each taking lead vocals, along with Nicolle backing them up. They guys also brought out a special guest – Aaron Goldstein of Huron, who also happened to produce their album. Together, they played a cover of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere.”

Although they played to a sparse crowd and had a pretty short set, it was obvious how much talent and skill these fellas possess at such a young age. I suggest you keep these guys on your radar, as I expect they’re set for a long career in music.

Fronted by Tom Wilson of, most notably, Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, Lee Harvey Osmond (often stylized as LeE HARVeY OsMOND) changed the atmosphere of the night. With Harlan Pepper having such a short set time, Lee Harvey Osmond took advantage of this and played a longer set. Harlan Pepper didn’t get the short end of the stick, though, as they joined Lee Harvey Osmond on stage. Wilson, while introducing the band members, actually pointed out that “sometimes you have to make your own bass player” in reference to his son, Thompson Wilson of Harlan Pepper, joining him on stage. Altogether, there were 9 musicians on stage for this set.

The band plays a unique brand of alt country/folk that has been dubbed as “acid folk.” There’s a little bit of country, folk, blues, booziness, and a lot of energy all rolled into this rockin’ package. What is probably most notable is Wilson’s penchant for banter, especially in reference to past stories of partying like a rock star. Even as he gets older, Wilson doesn’t seem to be rockin’ any less. Arguably, his fire seems to grow with time.

United Steel Workers of Montreal took the stage just after midnight. This 6-piece is fronted by Gern f. (vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica) and Felicity Hamer (vocals, accordion), joined by Shawn Beauchamp, Phil Frumignac, and Dylan Perron, and Steve Brockley. USWM’s alt country flavour is also unique, as it brings along a grittiness that is juxtaposed so well with Hamer’s sweetness. With Gern at the helm, his commanding voice and stage presence really makes for a captivating live show. Gern’s energy and flare is a particular highlight, as he had the crowd yell “fuck” a few times before playing a song. Gern also went into the crowd at one point and wrapped the mic cord around the neck of an audience member… but before you worry, it wasn’t tight at all and was, of course, all in fun.

It’s a shame the crowd was a little sparse that night, but you can blame that on the weather. The sudden drop in temperature could have been a factor. And perhaps the late set time really took a toll on the crowd, as the crowd was pretty quiet. Gern noticed this and said, “You’re very quiet. I can hear the bartender punching numbers. You’re doing a very good job.” What is for sure about this show is that I’ll never forget all the amusing banter. Nearing the end of the set, as people started to leave, Gern joked, “Make room for the itty bitty baby Jesus on the dance floor. Welcome him into your hearts but don’t touch him inappropriately.” I’ll leave you with that wisdom.

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Categories: Live Music


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