Whitehorse took center stage at Montreal En Lumiere at L’Astral and demonstrated professional music without the usual ‘polished’dog and pony act attached.
Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland – the husband / wife duo are more comfortable than they should be. The chemistry both musically and spiritually was very apparent as they performed on the heels of their latest disc; The Northern South Vol. 2.
That album is the second installment of an homage to Blues’ classics. Make no mistake about it, on disc and live – the tunes are all Whitehorse.
Combining Rockabilly / Rock / Ballad sensibilities with Country ‘twang’ is not the only thing that separates Whitehorse from most. The harmonies between Luke and Melissa are both magical and soulful. Luke’s energy balanced by Melissa’s calmness. Luke’s Yin and Melissa’s Yang. White and the Horse.
Once upon a time – the pair did it all live. Both Luke and Melissa are multi-instrumentalists who took turns on stage filling musical gaps. Drums, guitars, bass – all interchanged through their own individualistic talents. Loops and programmed sounds were also added to fill the room with Whitehorse’s sound. Currently – a band has been added to ease the workload and place the spotlight on vocals, guitar and bass playing. Luke and Melissa focused? A force.
At L’Astral – their catalog was displayed properly. No runs of songs from the same album. Whether it was John the Revelator from their latest disc or Achilles’ Desire from The Fate of The World Depends on This Kiss. The tunes fit seamlessly in a show filled with appreciative fans. Whitehorse’s following growing more and more with each passing year. Whithorse’s experience growing with each passing album.
Every band or artist should pay attention to the duo’s success. Songwriting and musicianship done the old fashioned way is the key to both an enjoyable live experience and successful albums. It is not rocket science. Keeping it simple with enough talent and hard work is Whitehorse’s recipe for a climb which should be very high.
For the Western Canadian band The Sheepdogs – that is precisely what they are doing. And – doing it well.
When Rolling Stone magazine proclaims you as the band to watch out for, that is a lot of pressure. Judging from their performance at MTelus on a double bill with Montreal’s own The Damn Truth, the pressure appears to be in their favor. The crowd, the ultimate judges of success, was numerous and safe to say; satisfied customers on Saturday morning.
Following a powerful set from The Damn Truth, The Sheepdogs took the stage with pomp. The ceremony came after as the fans adjusted to the much different sound of the two bands on display. The Sheepdogs – much more grounded in Country and Pop to go with their Southern Rock n Roll. While The Damn Truth are in your face (take it or leave it), The Sheepdogs cater to the masses.
Who?, I’ve Got a Hole Where My Heart Should Be and Saturday Night started the twine rolling and from there on in – a simple matter of being strung along with good musicianship and catchy songwriting took precedent.
Ewan and Shamus Currie, Ryan Gullen and Sam Corbett are the men whose collaborations are grounded deeply in ‘roots’ music. Feel good tunes which are rich in traditional sounds. Bluegrass, Country, Folk and Blues. Easy going type stuff with an ingredient which is sorely missing these days in music. Storytelling. The Allman Brothers had it, CCR had it and so do The Sheepdogs. The knack for touching souls musically and lyrically. The knack of (figuratively) touching real people.
The set list is ripe with tales that add a connection to the fans (aka everybody). Human relations via words via truthful emotions. Relating to ‘stars’ on stages (and magazine covers) bridges the gap and increases bonds. Through songs such as Southern Dreaming, Kiss the Brass Ring, Up in Canada right until their mega hit encores – The Sheepdogs provide reliability. Meaningful thoughts build throughout and explode in a joyous singalong with the encore I Don’t Know. Good bands play – great bands let their fans ride a roller coaster live.
For the fans of Rock n Roll in Montreal – watching The Damn Truth emerge from seedlings in the garden of Montreal music has been – thus far, satisfactory. Yet in the immortal words of one of Rock music’s founding fathers; “I can’t get no …”
Obtaining ‘satisfaction’ as a Rock outfit is beyond reach if you take your craft seriously. Perfection is striven for yet always just out of a finger’s touch. That is the ingredient which separates bands with success and those without. Constantly working hard.
Montreal’s The Damn Truth have had more success in the Montreal Rock n Roll scene than anyone in the past five years. Touring with ZZ Top and opening for Styx – just two achievements reached. Working with top level producers and engineers; a couple more pats on the back. The latest notch in their guitar straps? Touring Quebec with the critically acclaimed band The Sheepdogs.
In 2012, the CD Dear in The Headlights was released. It was the beginning of numerous radio appearances and live shows which introduced the band to Montreal and eventually; the world. It was the beginning of introducing Lee -La Baum’s infectious energy and chameleon-like vocals. It was the start of showcasing Tom Shemerr’s raw piercing guitar riffs and groundbreaking solos. Drummer Dave Traina’s hard driving beats and unique rhythms a la Bonham. Newcomer PY Letellier on bass – grounds it all in slightly sloppy, groovy vehicule. All in all, the city of Montreal was introduced to a talented Rock outfit with an endless amount of work ethic and hunger.
Fast forward to MTeluson a cold January evening 2019 – nothing has changed onstage. The Damn Truth still perform as if it was their very first show and their musical life ( career) depended on the outcome. Success has not reached the ears of the band. If it has, then their love and passion for what they do – easily dismisses the accolades as a monkey dismisses a fly.
Whether pounding out tunes such as I Want You (He’s a Lightweight)or Kinda Awkward from their rookie CD to new tracks off their 2016 album Devlish Folk– one thing remains the same; the fans’ reaction.
There is something in the air when The Damn Truth play their hometown. It is beyond hometown support and /or love. It is beyond great tunes. It is superior to a Rock show. What The Damn Truth bring to the stage (aside from energy) is honesty. Integrity oozes through their sweat and into the first row. From there, like an epidemic – it is passed throughout the venue. The most jaded of music fans cannot dodge the bite of the band’s vicious and truthful fangs.
In this day and age of auto-tune, loops and programmed music, The Damn Truth are throwbacks to an era when music mattered more than the money. The days like the Fillmore West when the East Coast Blues, Funk and Country guys met and blended with the California music scene. The days (and nights) when those musicians talked about creativity and making great music. The days when bands played for the fans from the heart.
An audience cannot be fooled. An audience knows when a performer is real or calling it in. An audience knows authenticity. The Damn Truth are the real deal and that is why the audiences grow larger and larger at The Damn Truth shows.