Sunday, April 08, 2007
Hank Pine & Lily Fawn
in the Hootenanny Revue
Starlight Lounge Waterloo ON
So ten of us pull up to a table at the Starlight Lounge for an evenings worth of well priced entertainment with the Hootenanny Review, a travelling minstrel show with some fine Canadian talent. It's the last night of the Revue, so it's too late for me to convince you to go out and see it. But it's not too late to catch the hightlight of the evening: Hank & Lily. More on that in a bit.
The Hootenanny is a roots based revue filled with mostly orignal material from a cast of, well if not thousands, 8. At least tonight. It seems the group morphs. Taking MC duties tonight, and this tour I believe, is the enticing babe in a sundress and docs, Carolyn Mark. Cute and edgy, how can you not like that? She also carried a heavy load in the show, closing the main set with a wonderfully sardonic song, Two Kinds of Women.
Luther Wright joined Carolyn on a handful of songs and presented a strong mini-set of his own throughout the night, covering Steve Goodman's If She Were You and blowing the house away with a raucous request rendition of I Got A Broken Fucking Heart.
Cape Breton star Jim Bryson had some moments, when the lethargy caused by the racoon ribs he had for dinner wasn't dragging him down. He played a bunch of instruments and did some leads, as did all performers. By the second set he seemed in a groove and delivered a crowd-pleasing I Wanna Go Home.
We had a song or two from other support artists, Joey Wright, a regular, and Andrew Vincent, a guest. Dan Whitely provided excellent mandolin support throughtout the evening and even took a turn on drums.
Glowing-diva-of-the-night award goes to the 'banging for two', effervescent, pleasantly plump, cute as a button, Jenny Whitely. This whole piece should have been about her, and would have been if it wasn't for the chances we have in the next week to track down Hank & Lily live. Jenny's gonna take a breather soon. Hope she comes back with a vengance 'cause she's got a voice that can't be beat and some great songs as well. Though I liked them all I'd sure like a reprise of Banjo Girl and When It Rains I Pour.
All this was absolutely worth the price of admission.
But we got substantially more.
Hank Pine & Lily Fawn are an interesting duo, to say the least. He's got a face like a mask, welding goggles, leather body suit with shark fins and metal gauntlets, with shit-stomping boots. OK, he dresses like my son. She's a pixie. OK, a pixie on acid. Little antlers and tats on the arms. All 'katebushy' with the vocals in an endearing way. It's an act that must be seen...but listening don't hurt either.
They got 5 songs between the two sets and displayed a capacity to enthrall that was due to a combination of elements from interesting lyrics, funky instruments (a gas can guitar and a saw), tap dancing skills, roboticized vocals reminiscent of the sound Jack White got from his copper mic this past year and chutzpah up the wazoo.
They open with something that feels like a post-apocalyptic walk through the forest where Red Riding Hood found her troubles. A spooky otherworldy feel to the song is peeled back to unveil a most hypnotic and unforgettable hook... "don't be afraid /(don't be afraid)/ until I tell you why you ought to be afraid." How something can be so soothing and ominous at once is beyond me.
The second song sees the fairy tale theme continue with an appearance by the 3 Little Pigs going to market. It might be called Pushed & Pulled. I don't quite get this one yet but I'll keep listening and watching until it sinks in.
Last song of the first mini-set is called North America, a place where it's in the soil, it's not in the blood. Another spooky tale of... (see above).
Lily opens the second mini-set with a love song, her first, and it's about...love. The thing, and what it does. It starts as a lament and explodes into a 'can-can' complete with a tap-dance break. Lily squeaks out some salacious lyrics during what might be called Love You Don't Know Me: "love has come out me / like sap down a tree..." and "though i have been warned of the birds and the bees/ i still want you when you sting me."
The set closes with a song that may be called Prison Song, an Orwellian cautionary tale about a NWO where everything is a crime and everyone is watching you. One slip and you'll be in the big grey building up on the hill. And not in a good way. The song comes complete with a new-age chain-gang audience-participation jungle-chant. (That's more hyphenated words than you'll see anywhere outside of a Quebec phone book.)
Look around their website for dates, more music and more info. I'm not sure yet what they are, but I'm pretty sure they're worth deciphering.