Who: Luther Wright & the Wrongs
Where: The Boot Pub
When: Nov. 19
How would Pink Floyd sound belting out twangy crooner ditties? Luther Wright & the Wrongs have just found out and theyre reconstructing The Wall with guitars and drums this Monday night.
Rebuild the Wall (2001), their third release after Hurtin' For Certain and Rogers Waltz , is a compilation of cover songs like The Happiest Days of Our Lives, Wish You Were Here, and Another Brick in the Wall Part I from the Pink Floyds 1979 classic, The Wall.
The CD cover jacket for Luther Wright & the Wrongs reads like a scrapbook of sorts, with walls built of hay bales instead of bricks.
"We laid out the album art like The Wall , which is a synopsis of a story country music is about telling stories, sad stories or tales of trucking this music tells a lot about Canadian rural experience," Wright says.
And the Wrongs are at home in the great outdoors. Wright spent summers in the countryside of Prince Edward County, just west of hometown Kingston, while Cam Giroux (drums, vocals) grew up in the Charlotte Lake area. The foursome rounded out with Sean Kelly (bass, vocals) and Cam Giroux (drums, vocals) have been playing and writing together for the last five years.
That comfort level seems to provide the ease with which to explore creative endeavours like the Roger Waters/Pink Floyd tribute. The new album includes guest vocals from Sarah Harmer (My Apartment songwriter), with Julie Penner on fiddle.
"Most of the female vocals we lay down come from Harmer, a classic country crooner," says Wright. "Her producer ears are great in the studio, and she can reach all the tricky vocals by playing with them when we go into songs. On the former two records she was really in the role of co-producer."
Harmer sang with a previous incarnation of the band, Weeping Tile, who played the college circuit out east through the 90s. The band is slated to unite for several December appearances in Toronto.
Wright raves about the talents of Kingstonians Monique Wells and Julia Schall (vocals), who are not on the Wrongs nation-wide tour owing to commitments at home.
In terms of song writing, Wright says he writes in organized disorder.
"Sometimes I scribble lyrics on paper, or start by writing down phrases or music with melody. Or some days Ill just pick up a guitar and over a period of days, or weeks, a chord or topic for the song will come or I just root through pieces of songs to form one," he says.
After a few months to process the royalties for Waters and some changes to the lyrics, Wright and the Wrongs were ready to let the music rip and then send a copy to Roger Waters himself. Waters manager did reply via e-mail, saying Roger had received, and liked the project. Quite a coup, for the pedal steel and banjoed jamboree.
But "We dont need no education " as bluegrass? The band began toying with the concept while on tour as Weeping Tile in 1999, when Wright heard Pink Floyd on the radio and started strumming an alternate version of the dark and dreamy classic. They pride themselves on the four-part harmonies they are able to work into the music, although where the album lands in terms of chart classification is still unclear.
"Weve fallen between the cracks of the way styles are grouped at (stations like) Country Music Television or Muchmoremusic, but its a tough area in terms of the way music is considered," Wright admits.
CMT produced the video for Brick in the Wall Part II, their first for the album, which was shot north of Kingston.
"Exposure is good on any side, although we wouldnt want to do ads for ground-to-shoulder missiles or anything like that," Wright chuckles.
Humour mixed with the no-nonsense practicality of country have spelled success for an album that began "sortve like a Science Fair project; bits here and there on a weekly basis."
Prior to their Whistler appearance, Wright and the Wrongs played The Railway Club, the Vicki Gabereau Show, and the Vancouver Arts Club from Nov. 15 through 17.
Tour stops, noted as diary entries and anecdotes, on their Web site, included a spring appearance at Austins SXSE independent music festival, in addition to autumns NXNE in Toronto, and an eastern summer tour. Theyve also played a few ski towns.
"As part of the folk music festival tour we played a show at the Fernie Summer Gathering and ran into the Rheostatics, who were playing the opposite stage. We were so happy to be playing alongside them, and after their set they danced like mad," Wright says.
Relaxed views on the land and on Floyd not such an unusual mix.