Saturday, February 28, 2015

Petunia and the Vipers at The Shanty Tavern 2-27-15

Friday night was a special treat for us here in Little Old Lake City, a close-in neighborhood of Seattle. Not only did we have music royalty make a much anticipated visit, it all happened just blocks from my pad at a most excellent venue.

Petunia and The Vipers played one of the best shows of the year (disclaimer: that I have witnessed) at The Shanty, a venerated road-house with roots older than most of us have been alive. This was a special treat that we owe to the persistence of one Jon Noe (booking agent for The Shanty) and the gracious nod of the head from Marcel Petunia and his band.

Here is Jon getting ready to introduce the band. I have thanked Jon many times for his efforts to bring live music to our neighborhood. I have booked a few shows so I know that it is a lot of work. Jon does this for the love of live music; he is my current god.

Jon volunteered for this job. He doesn't get a cent and works his ass off to bring live music to The Shanty. And so with a few chosen words, and I paraphrase here, Jon said "now, we have one of the best bands in the country...wait a minute, Petunia and the Vipers are from Canada, please welcome one of the best bands in the world, Petunia and the Vipers!" The capacity crowd went nuts.

This collection of musicians is very special. They make a sound that is unlike any other. My buddy mentioned that Marcel (Petunia) was the David Byrne of country music. Yes, he is that innovative and special. I have seen hm before and listened to his music many times. We were in the presence of greatness.

Petunia and the Vipers hail from Vancouver B.C. They represent the finer and classier side of country music in my opinion. They have a gentle and mellow vibe but still can bring the rock to country.

Petunia and the Vipers are: Marcel Petunia, Stephen Nikleva, Jimmy Roy, Patrick Metzger and Paul Townsend.  Their music is hard to classify. They have sounds that range from a beautiful whisper to a deep growl. They are very particular about their sound. This is one of the reasons they are so hard to book. Luckily they came to the right place.

The Shanty has had it's up and downs. They were open daily for years, offered live music and was a vibrant part of the neighborhood. Due to illness, changes and just the way things go, the place was closed for months. Now, they are open every Friday evening and offer great live music.

Dayna is our host and I had the chance to meet and talk with her at length. She told me about the travails and changes that she has endured. She and her dad have kept the place open and it has prospered under their dedication. Thanks to you both for sticking with it!

The whole crew is outstanding from the front-door bear to the sound tech. Joe Jabon is a well known and revered musician. He is the sound wizard and by all I heard on Friday night, which describes him well. He put much of the board together. He and others wired the place, bought the stage lights and did all the work themselves. Here he is in his other job.

Joe is a super sweet and talented guy. The Shanty is lucky to have him tending the ears of all their patients. I am lucky to count him as a friend. I am currently begging him and his band to play a show in December.

We are lucky to have this place open and presenting great live music. Thanks to Dayna, Jon, Joe, dad and all the others behind the scenes that make this possible.

Back to the band of the evening. A couple of Petunia's cohorts used to be with Ray Condo before his sad and untimely death. Stephan is a marvelous 6 string guitar player. Tonight he started the first set with a guitar I have never seen.

It was a Japanese Douglas 6 string that by all descriptions is primitive at best. Here is a link to page I found about this instrument:

The place was filled with artists and musicians. When I saw Marc Bristol of The Honkeytonk Sweethearts (and editor of Blue Suede News), I asked him about the guitar. He had found one at a pawnshop for $65 bucks, hard case and all. Here he and Stephan are talking about the details.

I loved watching as well as listening to this band. Petunia has such a lovely voice. He can yodel like a love sick cowboy, croon like old blue eyes and growl like my malamute. Each member adds to this mix in their own special way. My favorite may have been the drummer Paul, who moved as if his body was crawling with ants.

Jimmy Roy plays a beautiful vintage double neck steel. I have seen him play before at The Anchor in Everett WA. He is so great and plays effortlessly. I got to thank him for the great set.

Patrick played stand up bass most of both sets and took a turn on the acoustic for one song.

All eyes were on Petunia. He presents a striking figure and once he starts to sing, you almost want to cry. It is hard to describe so you will have to find out for yourself. See them on Facebook here:,, buy their music, listen on Bandcamp, but by all and any means, listen to Petunia and the Vipers.

Here is a link to a video I shot with my cheapo iPhone...

Yes, that is a Kazoo hanging around Marcel's neck.

Petunia and the boys had the place jumping; lots of dancers and people sitting and standing up close to watch the action. Here is Johnny 7 and Marieke Benner tearing up the dance floor.

Now for more Petunia.

I got to talk with Marcel outside as we arrived and he is a sweet and friendly guy. I made sure to buy both of his CD's. I already had one...but I always make sure to purchase as much merch straight from the artist as I can. If they will come all the way down from B.C. to entertain us, I will drop the dime every time.

Joe had brought a guitar in with him and Stephan decided to give it a try in the second set. As he got into it I saw him nod to Joe in obvious enjoyment. He ended the evening with it and I mentioned to Joe that he was not going to get it back.

I loved this band. Do not miss if you ever get a chance to see them.

Thanks to The Shanty for putting on great live music. Thanks to Jon and Joe for their passion and dedication to live music and thanks to Marcel and the band for coming down to the states for this great show.

See some live music soon, it will enrich your soul.