Two quirky Canadians with a love for old music and silent films are heading to Okotoks this weekend for a one-of-a-kind performance.
Donning top hats and suits, Silver Screen Scoundrels’ Brandon Isaak and Keith Picot will combine their original swing music with slapstick movies – starring themselves – in a multi-media show at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s the best show on Earth,” said Picot, who plays double bass and sings backup vocals.
Picot is the mastermind behind the silent films the duo produces. He’s been writing, producing and directing movies for years and his musical talent earned him a nomination for the Maple Blues Award as Canada’s Best Bass Player in 2014.
Isaak contributes his talent as a singer/songwriter with his skill for performing a symphony of instruments including guitar, harmonica, drums, kazoo and piano.
As a solo artist, Isaak won a Maple Blues Award for Best Acoustic Performance in Canada.
Before establishing the Silver Screen Scoundrels five years ago, Isaak and Picot toured and performed together in the band The Twister for almost a decade.
At the time, Picot was involved in the filmmaking industry and an idea started to take shape to combine Isaak’s songwriting with Picot’s filmmaking.
“Once we made a couple of movies we felt we would play them on stage behind us,” said Isaak. “We thought if we could add it to our songs it would be perfect. People’s attention spans aren’t great and people love watching screens.”
After completing the first movie, which was 14 minutes long, the two realized that might not be the way to go and decided to keep the films the same length as the songs, said Isaak.
“We do about three or four movies per set,” he said. “It’s nice to throw the odd movie in and play some music.”
Picot compares the silent-movie aspect of their performance to watching a music video.
“The movies are written for the songs and the songs are written for the movies,” he said. “Generally the movie reflects something we feel about the songs.”
Like the silent films of the early part of the 20th century, Isaak and Picot use slapstick humour to keep audiences entertained, whether atop a horse or wielding guns.
“Listening to the music people get bored really quick,” said Picot. “They are watching two guys play and all of a sudden you look up at the screen. It’s like Kraft Dinner and a warm blanket at dinner time.”
Picot said he and Isaak have always adored old-time music and films.
“We’ve always been a fan of it,” he said. “By making our show old time we get to see ourselves in old movies. It’s a selfish pleasure.”
Isaak, the brains behind the lyrics, said the music is original.
“Quite often people think it sounds familiar because it’s old school,” he said. “It’s traditional-type music. We do a lot of swing.”
Isaak said he tries to throw positive messages into his music in the realm of modern spiritual and gospel.
“It’s different, it’s honest,” he said. “We have a saying that we don’t take ourselves very seriously, we take what we do very seriously. We’ve been playing forever so we’re able to have a lot of fun with what we do and it shows. The band has got to have more fun than the audience.”
While combining music, film and comedy in a light-hearted way, Isaak said they are always cracking themselves up.
“We have a lot of fun and that seems to transpire to the audience,” he said, “It gives the audiences something to laugh at and at the same time get into the music. Music is great for the soul.
“We love the old comedy act — Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. That’s definitely an inspiration for us on the show.”
Tickets to see the Silver Screen Scoundrels cost $25 and can be purchased at www.okotoks.ca, the Okotoks Art Gallery or by calling 403-938-3204.