Band brings unique sound to foothills stage
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 02, 2013 08:48 am
A Canadian artist known both for his distinctive name and music is yodeling his way to the foothills this weekend.
Singer/songwriter Petunia and his Vancouver band The Vipers are bringing their original country and punk rock tunes to the Flare ‘n’ Derrick Community Hall stage in Turner Valley on Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Petunia said he couldn’t help but be influenced by American country singer Jimmie Rodgers, widely known as the father of country music. Petunia said Rodgers introduced yodeling to the music industry.
“He’s not the first but he’s certainly the guy who yodeled the most and he was really good at it too,” he said.
What Petunia finds so intriguing about Rogers is the diversity of his music.
“He was very cutting edge at the time,” he said. “He was playing a lot of different styles of music. He was a big influence on any country musician. He was the first recorded musician to do all these things.”
Petunia is doing much the same. The multi-talented musician is skilled at playing a variety of instruments including the guitar, kazoo, piano and almost any stringed instrument.
Despite his many abilities, his most recognized talent is his ability to yodel.
“You get a pretty enthusiastic response at a show when you do a yodeling number — maybe because it’s a lost art,” he said.
Among Petunia’s most recognized numbers are “Cold Heartbreaker” and “The Cowboy Waltz.”
Petunia has played alongside some great Canadian musicians over the years including Paul Pigat, Paul Rigby and Ray Condo.
“When he passed away I was touring part time with some of his band members and now I’m playing with all of his band members,” he said of Condo. “Even before Ray passed away I’d been playing with them all for five or six years.”
Over the years his band developed a unique sound with a punk rock edge and traditional country roots.
“It’s got the old school and it’s got the new vibe,” he said. “Not only am I dipping into the past, but I’m coming at it from new angles.”
Because of the varied music played by Petunia and the Vipers, the band has a wide range of fans.
“We do have a big younger following considering the level of old school music that’s in it because of the old punk rock edge,” he said.
Petunia, who grew up in Quebec, started his music career picking and singing on street corners, subway stations and park benches. The wandering musician traveled Canada’s highways with his thumb out.
Now he is a regular on the Canadian music circuit, playing as many as 150 shows a year with seven CDs under his guitar strap. The latest 45 vinyl release “Mercy” was recorded in Hollywood and released in 2011.
He is now working on a new album for 2014.
Beneath the Arch Concert Series selection committee chairperson Suzanne Searle said she couldn’t help but be drawn to Petunia’s music and hopes foothills music fans are also influenced by his unique sound.
Petunia has been a performer for years and people really started getting hip to his style the past couple of years, she said.
“Sometimes he sounds like he’s out of the 30s country music — like really old school, old world country meshed with a more contemporary Americana vein,” she said. “He’s got an amazing range this guy, it’s just unbelievable. He is one of the best yodelers I heard in my life. There is nobody like him.”
Searle was so captivated by his songs she picked up his latest album.
“It’s probably one of the most played vinyls in my house that I bought new,” she said. “It’s such a great record.”
Searle is not the only one captivated by his music.
“He has quite a following of young people in southern Alberta,” she said. “I’ve been to a lot of his shows and it’s amazing how the younger crowd has picked up on him.”
Petunia isn’t only known for his skills as a singer/songwriter, he is also considered somewhat mysterious, said Searle.
“You never know his personal details,” she said. “You know about a lot of artists on their website like personal details where they grew up. You will never find that out about Petunia.”
Tickets to see Petunia and the Vipers are available at Coyote Moon Cantina and Espresso Bar in Turner Valley, Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond, the Millarville General Store, Bluerock Café in Okotoks or by calling 403-933-3003.
Tickets cost $25 for adults and $10 for children six to 12 years.
For more information go to www.beneaththearch.ca