Show Review: All Aboard for Shred Kelly

Have you ever gone to a party with a date and left with someone else?

That's the way we felt last Nov. 23 when we went to Windsor's Phog Lounge to meet up with our good friend and fellow CBC Radio 3 blogger StephRamsahai. We were there to support her friends, The Creekside Strays from London, opening for Shred Kelly of Fernie, B.C. We'd never heard of Shred Kelly, but that's who we ended up taking home. (Their debut CD, Goodbye July; what did you think we meant?)

 Nic Cavaliere

Led by Nic Cavaliere's heavy, funk-infused bass and James Vinyard's working man's growl on the guitar and vox, The Strays mine the meaty end of classic and '90s rock. We think what keeps them out of the retro-tribute band camp and on campus radio charts, and puts the "alt" into their rock, is Justin Shorey's smart, finessed drumming. The band was only eight months old when we saw them; they've been working hard ever since playing non-stop shows in London and Toronto, and just released their second EP, Honour Amongst Thieves, the follow-up to last year's Tiger Waltz.

Justin Shorey

James Vinyard

We called 2011 the Year of the Dirge, because it seemed like so many new albums from bands we like were more down-tempo and/or somber. "Be happy," we wanted to tell them, especially since they were really good albums embraced by listeners and critics. But still dirge-y. Which might explain why Shred Kelly's "stoke folk" proved to be the perfect antidote. Fun, high-energy, blistering banjo, anthems like "I Hate Work"? Shred Kelly made us very happy, and our list of top shows for 2011.

Jordan Vlasshaert
Ian Page Shiner

Tim Newton

Sage McBride

Tim Newton (l) and Steve Polit

Congratulations to Shred Kelly, who will be one of the bands playing Tracks on Tracks, the epic rock 'n' roll train adventure being sponsored by Green Couch Productions, CBC Radio 3 and VIA Rail. The train pulls out of Vancouver on Jun. 8 and rolls into Toronto on Jun. 12 in time for NXNE. If you can't take the train, there will be a Tracks on Tracks showcase featuring the bands from the train on Jun. 13.

Photos by Russ Gordon/N2D Images
Tracks On Tracks image courtesy of CBC Radio 3