ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (END)
When my car finally gave up the ghost, I lost the plot, road trip ended. Slammed the door, kicked the wing and crossed the road to the nearest watering hole.
They always say “expect the unexpected” but I always get surprised . I received a cursory nod from some guys at the bar and took a seat in a quiet dark corner just like Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider.
One sip of my beer then take in the surroundings. Nice boozer with a small stage lit by fairy lights. Without further ado, a couple of lads who looked as though they had just woken up wandered onto the platform. They look not unlike mutant Bill and Teds, I figured. Not promising. Anyhow one picked up a guitar and the other plucked away at a banjo. People came to listen. What happened next was that the two guys created an almost eerie atmosphere with their enchanting scratchy ambience that seemed shambolic but was somehow quite engaging. I was sorry when they packed up but they left a kind of “lost western saloon” vibe.
That thought stayed with me when another gang set their stall out. They said they were The Canyon Family and they were. A reverb drenched guitar echoed around the room all minimal and Ennio Morricone while the two ladies sang strange stories about horses. The drummer was uncomplicated. Sometimes the dude in the hat sang. His voice joined in deep and low. A ghostly plains country sound enveloped us, what you might expect if Twin Peaks had been set on Mexican Borderland or if Reykjavik was situated on a dark desert highway, y’know? A kind of outsider frontier town feel.
Lots of people crowded into the bar most watched intently hypnotised by the sound and charmed by the Ladies of the Canyon who sometimes giggled at each other and smiled. Nobody wanted them to finish – this had been another country. I bought another drink not realising the night was still young. On enquiry as I paid for my beer, it appeared another band, Double No No, were going to entertain.
Louder this time and slightly menacing. Sturdy drumming and louder guitars-a brooding stripped down sound – “quite Tarantino” someone remarked – a good call. The singer was Xena the Warrior Princess or maybe Annie Oakley in a bad mood. The band was really excellent and everybody liked them.
They do say expect the unexpected …..
The fairy lights still twinkled after all the music stopped, a nice touch I thought.
Words: Chris “Keefy” Hillman
The Canyon Family Soundcloud.