Petunia and the Vipers perform Feb. 18 in Harrison.

Petunia and the Vipers perform Feb. 18 in Harrison.

Country blues hillbilly returns to Harrison

Petunia and the Vipers will be returning to Harrison with their swinging country blues rockabilly tunes Saturday, Feb. 18.

Vancouver-based band, Petunia and the Vipers, will be returning to Harrison with their swinging country blues rockabilly tunes Saturday, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. in the intimate Harrison Memorial Hall.

The band is led by songwriter Petunia, who delivers his evocative songs with an arresting voice that moves between rockabilly snarls and country blues yodels, delivered in a ghostly falsetto.

“This is Petunia and the boys’ third visit to Harrison in the past five years,” says Andy Hillhouse, artistic director of the Harrison Festival Society, “From their first appearance on our beach stage in 2012 they developed a following for their slightly eccentric approach to some classic Americana styles.”

With a piercing gaze, Petunia looks into the collective soul of the audience, then launches into high and lonesome vocals that conjure up the spirit of Jimmie Rodgers.

Petunia defies convention. His style is unique and surreal and his live performances have been likened to an avant-country nightclub scene straight out of a David Lynch movie. His honest, cut-to-the-heart song writing and multi-syllabic narratives would leave a lesser singer tongue-tied and breathless.

One of the many themes running through Petunia’s lyrics relates to living life on one’s own terms – fearlessly and without regret. This theme echoes Petunia’s own biography. Spending the early part of his career playing on every major street corner, subway station and park bench in Canada and New York City, he picked, grinned, and sang for his living.

Joining Petunia are the Vipers, a band consisting of some of Western Canada’s finest, including former members of rockabilly legends Ray Condo’s Ricochets and Sarah McLachlan’s band. This group of skilled, imaginative, and tasteful players accompanies Petunia with the classic sounds of pedal steel, electric guitar, stand up bass, and drums.

Petunia’s music is infectious: his singing ranges from the most delicate you’ve ever heard to the most powerful, often within a single song. It’s hillbilly flavoured, swing inflected, ragtime, good-time music.

Tickets for Petunia and the Vipers are $22 and can be purchased online at www.harrisonfestival.com, by phone at 604-796-3664 or in person at the Ranger Station Art Gallery in Harrison and Agassiz Shoppers Drug Mart on Pioneer Avenue.