Let the good times roll

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There’s a retro revival going on and Punch Drunk Cabaret is leading the charge. Costumed in Steampunk outfits, the retro rockabilly-swing threesome has produced a sound that is fresh, dynamic and best of all – modern.

A remarkably tight and gifted band, Punch Drunk Cabaret has received its share of ink for Randy Bailer’s slick guitar riffs, Terry Grant’s thumping bass lines on a 12-string, and Sean Watt’s rhythmic drum kit more commonly known in the biz as a cocktail kit.

“It was developed during wartime because a lot of little clubs had no space for full drum kits. You have three drums and Sean plays standing up. He’ll even walk around the drums while playing,” said Bailer.

Fresh off a series of successful events, the five-year-old band will perform their potent blend of rockabilly, country outlaw and Steampunk swing on Dec. 4 and 5 at St. Albert’s Bourbon Room.

Rockabilly bands are generally known for their greaser fashion style – think Elvis and Buddy Holly – and vocal twangs that intertwine country, swing and old-time blues. Put these distinctive genres in a beaker and the result is explosive.

“We harken back to sounds that haven’t been heard in a long time. You can’t put us in any one category. It’s really a glorious pollination of different styles that are mixed together.”

These three fine recording artists are turning their vintage influences into something new and familiar, Bailer said.

As part of their set list, they will take a familiar pop song such as the synthesizer driven Eurhythmics’ Sweet Dreams and refocus it as a swing tune. Another time they changed a Johnny Cash tune making it sound more like AC/DC.

And then there are the character driven originals road tested on their audience – moments of music with wacky titles such as Beard of Bees, a song about affection that fell flat or Elixxxer, a tale of a man who finds his niche serving drinks behind a bar.

This is a period where everything has fallen into place. The Official Edmonton Steampunk Group loves their theatricality. Edmonton Rock Festival cheered their energy. Big Valley loved their rootsy vibe and Beaumont Blues Fest couldn’t get enough soul.

“At Beaumont we were invited back a record three times. Usually they don’t have you back, but that was a feather in our cap.”

For Punch Drunk Cabaret, it’s all about interaction.

“We want everybody to participate and when it happens, it’s pure magic. If you want, come dressed up. It’s a great opportunity to sing and dance.”

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About Author

Anna Borowiecki

Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.