THE HARPOONIST & THE AXE MURDERER with guest RYAN McNALLY
Saturday April 15, 2017 • Mills Hardware (95 King St. E., Hamilton)
Doors 8:00pm, show 10:00pm • 19+
Tickets: $12.00 (+SC) advance, $15 at the door
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In reality, The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer stir up a lot more than just violent nautical imagery. Armed with a sack of harmonicas, a mess of foot percussion and a road-‐worn Telecaster, Shawn “The Harpoonist” Hall and Matthew “The Axe Murderer” Rogers kick out raw and primal blues; continuing in the tradition of a ‘decades-‐deep blues style’ (Scott Brown, What’s up Yukon), while electrifying the genre a with a lightning bolt of new life. Their sound pays homage to influences ranging from Robert Johnson to Jack White, but its smothered in greasy, gritty soul, and punched with funk. Early on in their career, Hall and Rogers made the choice to limit their sound to whatever they could play between them, using only their mouths, hands and feet, and eventually the sound became larger than the band itself. Shawn Hall provides soul-‐tinged vocals and blues harmonica, while Matthew Rogers rips on the guitar and foot percussion simultaneously. Their music is not polite; it slaps you on the face and refuses to apologize. It somehow manages to cut through all the layers of clutter, all the anxieties, tensions and phobias and hit people directly at their core. It is how the blues are meant to be played.
The two met and bonded over music while in a recording session for a radio jingle, and named their new project after the blues harp reference lyric ‘I took my harpoon out of my dirty red bandana’ from Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby Mcgee”, as well as the common reference to a guitar as an ‘axe’. And while their name may lose HAM some gigs at senior’s homes and community halls, the band has made their peace with that. The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer released their inaugural album The Blues Can Kill in 2007, and have enjoyed a steady climb up to the widely acclaimed 2011 release, Checkered Past. They were top 20 finalists out of hundreds of bands in the 2012 Peak Performance Project in British Columbia, and rocked on to garner a Blues Recording of the Year nomination at the 2012 Western Canadian Music Awards, the 2013 SiriusXM Indie Awards and the Maple Blues Awards, where they were also nominated for New Artist of the Year. They have recently created a big buzz by jetting around to showcases such as Breakout West, The Toronto Blues Summit, Folk Alliance and South by Southwest. Shawn and Matthew have also seen their fair share of festival stages including Live At Squamish (2012), North Country Fair (2012), The Beaumont Blues Fest (2011), and Kaslo Jazz Festival (2012). Along the way, they’ve been honoured to share the stage with some of the world’s finest blues acts, including Taj Mahal, Colin Linden and Carlos del Junco.
The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer show no signs of wear and tear despite the fact that in every show, before the end of the first song, the pair is already drenched in sweat. In fact, they are preparing to record the next down and dirty collection of tunes for release next year, and have a chock-‐a-‐block full summer 2013 festival season. So whether you’re listening to The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer at a festival, in a bar or on record there is an unquestionable connection, passion, and groove. As one fan put it: ‘this is blues that gets you in the crotch’.
“The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer add a fresh take to the roots music genre via contemporary lyrics and arrangements, but maintain traditional structures and emotion. A welcome addition to the Canadian blues and roots music scene.” – Holger Peterson, CBC Saturday Night Blues
Whether he’s playing with his own solo band or other various outfits, Ryan McNally can’t be kept off Canadian stages. Ryan puts most of his energy in his passion for studying acoustic traditional blues, jazz and old time music. This led him to spending a winter in New Orleans where he wrote the majority of the material featured on Steppin’ Down South. This album is saturated with the sounds and rhythm of New Orleans streets.
Steppin’ Down South captures the sound of hillbilly blues and jug band jazz. Recorded live off the floor by Bob Hamilton at Old Crow Studios in Whitehorse, Yukon. With Patrick Hamilton on banjo, kick drum and vocals. Kieran Poile on fiddle, Justin Rubenstein doubling on trombone and trumpet and Christian Leclerc on tuba. Ryan McNally’s genuine style and performance is a breath of fresh air.
McNally was raised in rural Quebec, south of Montreal along the U.S. boarder. He began pursuing music at the age of ten when he first picked up the guitar. In his late teens and early twenties he would seek out musicians he would hear at cafes and bars for lessons in finger style blues. He continues to work in studying with teachers into his schedule while he is performing on the road.
Currently McNally is experimenting with scoring music to films as well as musical direction for theatre — all while keeping up a busy solo career and a steady touring schedule.