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Vancouver blues duo to keep Wakefield weird this Friday night

The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer bring their gritty blues pop to the Black Sheep Inn Friday night in Wakefield.

The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer

Contributed

The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer

When Shawn Hall arrives in Wakefield this Friday night, he’ll be crossing something pretty big off his bucket list: playing a live show at the iconic Black Sheep Inn.

Hall, who goes by the stage name “The Harpoonist,” and his rhythmic counterpart Matthew “The Axe Murderer” Rogers may have played to thousands of greasy, gritty, grunting blues fans at festivals and music showcases over the past two summers, but it’s the small, intimate shows, in dirty pubs that smell of stale beer and cigarettes that really get this pair up.

“Playing small shows gives you an intimacy like you are in someone’s living room and you can have a dialogue with people,” says Hall from his home in Vancouver.

“You can have an intimacy and humour and build a lot more of a relationship.”

Well, then, Hall, you’re in for a hell of a treat. Those who have ventured out to the woods to the Sheep know what I’m talking about. The Sheep is more than just a music venue, a sonic space, a jam juke joint; it’s a meeting place for misfits; a polestar for the eccentric; a vehicle for the voracious and she’s got plenty of miles on her. Canadian greats Arcade Fire, Cuddy and Keelor, and Buck 65 have all stepped on the gas pedal at the fabled Black Sheep Inn, taking fiery locals on sonic road trips, weekend after weekend after weekend (insert major shout out here to owner Paul Symes for putting Wakefield on the melodic map). He really deserves to have the title of Maestro.

Hall has heard the “infamous” tales the wicked Wakefield bar has weaved, but he’ll get a first-hand glimpse Friday of the Sheep, Wakefield and the people who make it so amazing.

 “It’s on our bucket list of places to play,” adds Hall.

Not anymore. The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer bring their gritty, blues pop to the Wakefield world Friday night and with it will come a deep, soulful sound that will get in your bones and infect you forever.

If you’ve heard any of this Vancouver duo’s tunes, you may be surprised Friday when you see that singer Hall is a middle-aged white dude. He sounds like an 80-year-old soul singer from the Bayou, his deep, raspy vocals infused with smoke and glass rattle off the mic and hit you right where it counts: deep in the belly, where the cauldron boils. His genius work on the harmonica will have your tympanum pleading for more; your bones aching for more; your mind thirsty for more sonic cider.  

Rogers’ gritty guitar workings are masterful at worst. I’ve seen this guy command thousands in just a few scales, festivalgoers who barely knew the band’s name crashing their way to the front of the stage to get a clear look at where all that racket was coming from. Yeah, just two guys. Underneath Rogers’ dirty and raw strings is an underlying groove that’s impossible to ignore. It drives the entire tone of the band, creating a 70s soul feel with layers of blues pop carefully, and perfectly, placed over top.

Creating such a great wall sound with just a guitar, harmonica and vocals took years of failure to perfect. Years of exhaustive pedal and distortion work that ultimately led to the duo’s vanguarding intuition.

“It takes a while, because we originally started as a folk-blues group and it has taken eight years’ worth of experimentation with different pedals, it has been a lot of trial and error,” adds Hall.

“Trust is a massive thing, we both know instinctively right off the bat what works and what doesn’t. It’s intuition. When it’s two people, it’s very instinctive.”

Come get dirty with The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer Friday night at the Black Sheep Inn, where weird is the norm.