It was a brutally cold evening, and after what seemed to be a stressful month for me, I decided to give it a go and check out Montreal’s Folkabilly Blueswing sensation The Heroin Hayride. While it became a major tongue twister for Eric to even say the band’s name, we were interested to see this five-piece would bring to us as they played their interesting instruments and created magic on stage.
Frontman Chris Von Danger, who also sings and plays guitar for The Von Rebels, greeted us kindly before the set. We sat in the back middle of this cute little dive observing the interestingly mixed crowd of gutter punks/bar junkies and friends supporting the band; it was a small crowd and everyone seemed to know each other like one big happy family.
The Heroin Hayride began with “Westbound,” which started off at a slow pace but as the speed picked up, more bluegrass people around me sang and danced along. Bar de Courcelle is definitely a place for intimate shows and this band fit the atmosphere perfectly.
During “Heroin Whiskey Blues,” more and more people were walking in, running to the stage, and cheering their friends on. I had a hard time really focusing on the band because there were lots of people chatting around me, but that’s what happens when you play a bar. It was still a great crowd and the band got their attention fine.
I fell in love with Alex Charbonneau’s voice while she sang her bits in certain tracks, especially, “I Like Trains.” Her voice reminded me of a modern Billie Halliday. It’s not every day you see a rad chick playing a mandolin as awesomely as she did. Charbonneau rocked that thing and it was incredible. The tune itself was really catchy and I loved the band’s chemistry on stage.
Mike Desj has one of those raw, country-hillbilly voices that I don’t get to hear too often. His vest, baggy pants, and body language while playing the upright bass fit so well, and he was quite entertaining to watch. Chris had sung a few songs as well – he has such a lovely voice, sounding similar to Buddy Holly. As amazing as his voice is with Von, he has a much softer sound with this band.
The Heroin Hayride has been together for about three years with several band member changes. They kicked off their 10-day Canadian tour the same night. A free show, cheap beer, and good service created an overall great night. Check these guys out.