RICH HOPE with LITTLE FOOT LONG FOOT, CAMERON LATIMER & THE STONED WHEAT THINS and LISA JOYCE PARRY
31 July 2009 at the Railway Club
My copy of Little Foot Long Foot’s Harsh Words album arrived in the mail only just this afternoon, and I didn’t even have time to rip open the package before heading down to The Railway Club for a fun evening with them. With four bands on the bill, and the first not even starting until 10.30pm, I know I’m in for the long haul. What I don’t know is that it will be worth every minute and every drop of sweat…
Lisa Joyce Parry is feisty and fun. For someone who is relatively new to the music industry, currently recording her first EP, she plays a surprisingly tight set along with her drummer Mikey Manville of The Manvils (whose new album will be released on August 11th; check back with Backstage Vancouver on the 11th for our review). Her rock is short and sweet, leaving you longing for more. She sounds very professional for one so new, almost seasoned, with a dash of country that preludes an evening of good times and serious rock and roll. She dedicates her last three songs to the broken-hearted, and she means it; Lisa Joyce Parry sings from her heart, and Backstage Vancouver will feature an interview on her in the coming month.
Cameron Latimer wowed the crowd along with The Stoned Wheat Thins. I suppose I’d call his music “alternative country,” but it soon becomes apparent that it is country that is alternative to Cameron Latimer. Rocking a big guitar like Luke Doucet (whom he lists as an influence), Cameron is very comfortable with the audience and his music. It is a change of pace from the short and sweet rock of Lisa Joyce Parry, but the audience soon catches on to the sexy, sultry music that oozes from Cameron and the boys. It is reminiscent of seventies easy listening, but only because it goes down smooth in the heat. Cameron Latimer sounds like that album in your father’s collection that you’ve never seen before and can’t believe you’ve never heard. He plays songs from his album Fallen Apart, including a cover of a song everyone knows (but me, apparently), and a gin-drinking song too. Opening with “Heartbreaker” and closing with “Fallen Apart,” Cameron Latimer’s set is a treat from start to finish. His last song is my favourite; very sultry, with an incredible instrumental jam session finale. It is definitely a baby-making song. Speaking of babies; now that Cameron has one, he’s thinking of moving to Ashcroft in September in order to spend more time with his child, his music, and nature. Backstage Vancouver will be interviewing Cameron before he leaves for greener pastures, so stay tuned!
Little Foot Long Foot get their name from a Dave Chappelle skit, and “not a very funny one,” front woman Joan Smith confides to me. But there is nothing remotely amusing about how talented this pair is. Joan Smith plays the guitar like it’s a weapon of mass destruction, and Isaac Klein plays the drums with such controlled precision that it makes his tongue stick out. Both on and off stage, they are two of the nicest people I’ve met. Check out their live shows to see how many places they have played and will play as they tour with their new album Harsh Words, released this May. In the middle of the Vancouver heat wave, at the back of the cozy Railway Club, Joan and Isaac pour out their hearts and sweat as they rock our faces off. Joan’s guitar riffs and melodies are creative and fresh, and Isaac’s addition as the only other band member gives them surprising volume. Their lyrics are good, and Joan’s voice commands attention; you have to hear it to believe it. Their country-tinged, bluesy rock-with-bite starts toes tapping, feet stamping, and a dance party in front of the stage. Rounding off their western tour and sling shooting back home to Toronto, Little Foot Long Foot plan on completing more eastern Canada tours before the summer calls it quits. I catch up with Little Foot Long Foot on Monday to talk about front women, dead hamsters, and spray-on mediocrity repellent. Watch for an album review and the interview later this week.
My mother has always said that I am stubborn, though I feel that insisting on staying for every band on a bill is the only way to truly enjoy an evening, much less review it. By the time Rich Hope mounts the stage it is past 1am and I am almost falling off of my stool from the heat. But it’s not just the weather that is hot. This is already an amazingly energetic show with talented acts, and Rich Hope is the last but certainly not the least in this regard. When the five band members get on stage, you can tell immediately that they are indie country-rock veterans. Three of them look as though they’ve just stepped out of Back to the Future, but this only enhances their look. It’s when they start playing their music that I realize this is not a normal evening of just decent music.
More twang than country, dirtier than blues, and bigger than rock and roll, Rich Hope and his men have more talent in their smallest amps than many current bands have in their band members. They open with a fun song, promising a set that shoulder to shoulder and back to back / [is] longer than the rails on a railroad track. They boast a slide guitar among their multi-instrumental abilities, and sing wholesome lyrics amid down-and-dirty music. After all, Rich Hope just wants a pretty girl to love me / with the same last name as mine.
He includes a cover of “Sing Me Back Home,” something his father used to play for him when he was a child. It is obvious that there lies a sentimental heart under all that swagger. After the song, “It’s Jack Daniels time!” and you know that Rich Hope and the boys are here for a good time AND a long time. He may have been an auctioneer in his previous life as he speed talks about toe-tapping, two-step Friday and joins us on the dance floor with his guitar in tow. Rich Hope has experienced a wide range of emotions as he moves into the heartbreak rock, telling us it’s the “same girl, different song.” Next he plays a cover of a song by The Blue Shadows, “the greatest band to ever play this room.” There are memories haunting The Railway Club, and new ones are created tonightas well. The crowd gets more rowdy as the evening wears on, and the dancing spreads. For the last couple of songs, Cameron Latimer coaxes me onto the floor for some booty-shaking quickstep, and by the time Rich Hope and his company finish their set it’s past 2.30am and I’m exhilarated from the effort and energy. I can’t imagine how spent Rich Hope is, having come from a show at the Commodore Ballroom to play yet another set this evening.
If you don’t know them, you should get to know them; Rich Hope (Is Gonna) Whip It On Ya comes out on August 18th. Along with The Manvils and Ryan Dahle, Rich Hope adds to an impressive roster for new kid on the block Sandbag Records. Committed to fostering new and exciting talent in Vancouver, Sandbag Records achieves both artist freedom and impeccable quality standards, all within driving distance of the heart of the city. Backstage Vancouver is proud to witness the growth of this new and much-needed business.