Monday, July 15, 2024

My Highway leads to the Moonshine Cafe

An all-original show in the suburbs! In my 30 or so years of writing about the GTA music circuit, that’s a rarity, if not an impossibility. But that’s what listeners got when The Pistolettes appeared last Friday at the long-running Moonshine Café, in Oakville — one of the best rooms in the West End.

This all-female Hamilton band delivered a relentlessly high energy show blending elements of Rock, Rockabilly, Blues, and Classic Country. No slow, maudlin ballads here, but plenty of raucous whoops, hoots, and jokes.

They’re led by singer/acoustic guitarist Ginger St. James, an award-winning dynamo, who — like those Nature Valley granola bars — manages to be sweet and salty at the same time, and has two CD’s out on Kitchener’s Busted Flat Records. Electric guitarist Mary Simon and drummer Linda Duemo also take a regular — and impressive — turn on lead vocals, while Justine Fischer holds it all together on bass.

Reminding a bit of feisty Austin/Canadian blues siren Sue Foley, their subject matter leans to speeding cars, drinking, dumping boyfriends, and such. Two of the tops were the groovy “Soul Shacks,” and the surfy “Somebody Shot Me” (with the great line, “Now I’m packin’ up my bags/my ragtop on the blacktop”).  

Opening the show was Moonshine owner John Marlatt himself, with his super twangy band The Last Rodeo. A highlight was their left field version of the Townes Van Zandt classic “Pancho and Lefty”.

“Different,” he quipped afterward. “Everybody can play it straight. That’s no fun.”

It’s great to see The Moonshine, 137 Kerr St., weathering the effects of the pandemic to date (with the help of a GoFundMe campaign). They’ve traditionally had a live music seven nights a week policy, and the lineup ranges from name acts like (ex-Prairie Oyster singer) Russell DeCarle, Suzie Vinnick, Steve Poltz, The Sheepdogs, and The Kings, to the beginner, “to those who are somewhere in between,”

And you gotta love their web site advisory, “We insist that performers are treated respectfully during performances.”