A high-energy blues duo that isn’t afraid to delve into the doomsday mentality of the 21st century is bringing its talent to Turner Valley.
Juno-nominated The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer’s Shawn Hall and Matthew Rogers strive to get their audience grooving with their outstanding sound and commanding stage presence during their February western Canadian tour, which includes a concert at the Beneath the Arch Concert Series in the Flare ‘n’ Derrick Community Hall Feb. 10 at 7 p.m.
“The times we live in now are great fodder for writing,” said Hall. “It feels pretty doomsday for a lot of folks – ‘Get down the hatches, shit is coming down.’ A lot of songs are taken from the static moments, almost from the insane places that will take a person down these paths. It’s about emotions and people’s thoughts. It’s drawing from your very authentic self.”
Hall, a master at the harmonica and vocals, said he and Rogers, who plays guitar and drums, have been performing their unique sound together for 11 years.
“We’re not a smoke-and-mirrors band,” he said. “Whatever the intention of the song people can see where exactly the emotions come from.”
The duo has drawn a lot of attention in recent years, with its 2014 album A Real Fine Mess being named Western Canadian Music Award’s Blues Album of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year, and receiving a Juno nomination for Blues Album of the Year.
Their songs have been featured on various television shows including CSI, NCIS: New Orleans, Bitten, Killjoys, The Good Wife, Blue Bloods and Lizzie Borden Took an Ax.
Their music takes the dynamic duo around the world and to folk and blues festivals across Canada.
“We’re on the road a lot,” Hall said. “We’re out on the road 100 to 140 days a year.”
Hall, who grew up in Toronto, said he met Rogers in 2002 while living in Vancouver.
Hall, fresh out of recording school, was writing a jingle for a Vancouver Jamaican pizza restaurant commercial and needed someone to play guitar. A friend in the music business got him in touch with Rogers.
The pair hit it off and proceeded to work together on other projects.
“I would hire him to play guitar in different bands I had back then,” Hall said. “I would sing backup vocals on his brother’s record or get Matt to help me mix my solo project. We always involved each other in different projects until Matt had the idea that we could probably make a go of it just the two of us do blues with no band.”
Hall said he went electric, not playing the folk harmonica as much, while Matt turned his attention to the kick drum, snare and bass guitar.
“He had to get someone to rewire his telecaster,” he said. “A crazy amount of engineering has gone into the development of our sound. I don’t know anyone else who is doing exactly what we are doing.”
In addition, Rogers plays the drums with his feet, adding to the band’s high-energy sound.
“The reason people like hip-hop and country and rock and roll is because it’s got a boom-chuck, boom-chuck, boom-chuck sound,” he said. “Even if you can’t dance it gets you. It’s very infectious that way. It doesn’t matter what kind of music it is, good music is good music.”
While the two are on the road about a third of the year, getting together to write when not travelling is a challenge with Hall living on Vancouver Island and Rogers in northern Vancouver. But the musical duo makes it work.
“Both of us get musical ideas when we’re in motion, by ourselves,” Hall said. “We don’t sit down and write out melodies together. We get the nucleus of our ideas from our own corners of the earth.”
The pair also connects with Rogers’ brother, Ben Rogers, a western Canadian singer/songwriter, for their lyrics, Hall said.
“He is a very strong lyricist,” he said. “His narrative tends to help Matt and myself. We are not prominent storytellers and singer/songwriters. He helped really tune that in for us.”
Tickets to see The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer perform cost $25 for adults and $10 for children ages 6 to 12, or $30 at the door. They can be purchased online at beneaththearch.com or at the Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond.