Thurs., Sept. 29, Ironwood; Fri., Sept. 30, Calgary Legion
We’ve been hooked on Saskatchewan’s Jake Vaadeland and the Sturgeon River Boys since we saw them at NXNE in June, so we grabbed both chances to see them play — many BWO acts played twice — starting with the perfect venue for these country crooning, old time corn pokes: at the Ironwood.
The Sturgeon River Boys cut a fine figure in their vintage suits before the guitar player goes C&W hype man, heralding Vaadeland’s arrival on stage like an announcer on an old-time radio show whose signal has somehow found its way from Arkansas to Alberta and about 90 years into the future.
And then Vaadeland strides confidently on stage with the best suit of them all and a steady smile and rockabilly Elvis good looks with some Will Rogers thrown in for grain-fed gravitas. Vaadeland proceeds to charm, cajole and chuckle, the kind of fella people want to take home and serve a slice of pie. His gorgeous singing, stellar band and committed showmanship turn any performance into a full-on show.
Vaadeland sings his own original tunes that carry the soul of songs much older. From touching, impossibly world-weary ballads — he’s only 19! — to instant dance classics that swing, Vaadeland’s music evokes the best of a bygone era with the intimate urgency of something brand new.
Vaadeland never breaks character and his corny jokes at the expense of hapless bandmates along with banjo duels, dance moves on the standup bass and fantastic hair-combing skills make these prairie tumbleweeds a must-see whenever they roll in.
The Ironwood crowd give Jake and the boys a roaring, sustained standing ovation — a total rarity for a showcase event.