Monday, May 21, 2012

Sit Down, Servant!! with Shaun Verreault @ Cellar -- 05/19/12


It shouldn't come as a surprise to say I am a big fan of blues- and roots-rock, and two big factors in that are Big Sugar and Wide Mouth Mason. I've been a fan of both bands since the 90s; through Big Sugar's breakup, Grady and their recent reunion and WMM's recent loss of their bass player (whom they replaced with Gordie Johnson). So when the two were brought together -- in a way -- there was no way I was going to miss it.

First up was Shaun Verreault, of Wide Mouth Mason, taking the stage alone for a solo set consisting of a few of his own songs as well as some WMM tunes, some in "different clothes" as Shaun put it, with different variations or interpretations of the songs, like giving "Why" more of a blues vibe.
Shaun showcased his amazing talent with a liberal sprinkling of solos throughout the set, but never crossing that line into guitar-wankery; the extended solo in "Catch My Death" was especially hypnotizing. It's always amazing to watch him play, as he just makes it look so easy, coaxing the music from the guitar, rather than playing it, and he's got a great stage presence. I probably could have watched him play for another hour.

Soon after Gordie Johnson and current Big Sugar drummer, Stephane Beaudin took the stage as Sit Down, Servant!!, with Johnson not only on guitar, but also playing synth pedals with his feet. They had a definite blues-rock sound, emphasis on the bluesy vibe with some soul and even a bit of gospel thrown in. As well as their own songs there were some blues and spiritual standards and a few covers, including Skip James' "Devil Got My Woman" -- which Big Sugar covered on their first album.
Throughout the hour and a half set, Gordie broke out the slide guitar for a few songs, showing off his own phenomenal guitar skills, and pulled up a some friends on stage; Shaun Verreault for a few songs to play guitar or sing, and Rich Hope up to sing on a song he co-wrote, and they both returned for the last couple songs in the encore. Other highlights included the country-twanged "Don't You Miss Me When I'm Gone", which ended off the "main" set and the upbeat "If You Think Your God is Dead".

Both Gordie and Shaun are incredible musicians, and are absolutely amazing to watch live. And since the Cellar isn't that big of a venue, it lead to a great, intimate night of music.

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