Petunia and the Vipers
Album: Lonesome Heavy and Lonesome
Label: Self Released
Petunia and the Vipers breathe new life into the word ‘original’ in a way that is both refreshing and challenging. Their music is an amazing mix of classic western swing, rockabilly, high energy originals with a dash of Slim Whitman yodelling, and the 1930’s style music that gives the band their name. ‘Viper Culture’ was part of the Jazz scene of the 30’s, the term viper being Harlem slang for a pot smoker, lively times!
Lively performances by this band are electrifying, with Vancouver based frontman Petunia’s distinctive voice, style of dress and sometimes manic energy being fully backed by a band of consummate instrumentalists, including the brilliant lap steel guitar of Jimmy Roy. If you need any cobwebs blown out of your ears, this album is an absolute must for your record collection.
The first track, ‘We Did Not See the Light of Day’ instantly sets the style and pace, with a moody retro feel underpinning Petunia’s distinctive vocals, the trumpet then launches into a solo which leads into slide guitar before Petunia takes over again. The whole feel of the music is quite exhilarating, with an impression that you have found a musical box of chocolates, with every one of those chocolates a surprise. The second track just has to be heard for its’ name alone, and ‘Ugliest Coldest Bitterest Coldest Dreary Place I’ve Ever Seen’ flies straight back to the 30’s and 40’s and would quickly have an audience up and dancing!
The album’s title comes from the third and fourth tracks, ‘Lonesome’ and ‘Heavy and Lonesome’. Lonesome rolls along with almost growling vocals from Petunia underpinned by the bands’ gentle but perfect accompaniment, and Heavy and Lonesome is a wistful and evocative old fashioned country number. By track eight, the listener is transported back to the thirties for a masterclass in the atmospheric music of a bygone era, and will almost be listening in black and white movie style.
How to define the twelve tracks on this album… Rockabilly Country Blues? Jazz with a touch of Dixieland? Old Time Swing? Country Blues Retro ? All the above, with a large helping of total originality. The band are popular in Canada and the UK, and will be playing a lot of dates in the USA. Are Petunia and the Vipers an acquired taste? If so, a taste very well worth acquiring.