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PETUNIA the man
Petunia is more than just an entertainer, he’s a modern musical enigma. Imagine that David Lynch and Nick Cave had a hillbilly baby, that yodeled… or Tom Waits meets Elvis at Woody Guthrie’s hobo junction. This is just one way of describing the man known simply as Petunia. He’s an adventure seeker, a poker player, and a mysterious stranger. He’s been referred to as “The Savior of Country Music”, and a man who exists in a different era, bringing the past forth as something new to be celebrated and not forgotten.
Petunia grew up in rural Quebec, in exactly the sort of surroundings that a country musician would find idyllic, with old dilapidated barns, secret forts, and acres of unspoiled land. As an adult, the wandering spirit took a firm hold on his life, so he set out on the road, playing every major street corner across Canada and throughout the NYC subway system, before graduating to full fledged touring musician. When he’s not on the road playing shows, Petunia is also involved in the theatre world; building side projects, writing scores, acting, or collaborating with theatre artists. He currently resides in Vancouver BC, and works with several sets of sidemen across Canada, the US and Europe in addition to his own Vancouver based band, The Vipers. A restless wanderer, a musical historian, and a quirky yet amazing talent, Petunia is simply a Canadian treasure joining the greats from north of the 49th.
Louis Armstrong was once asked what his favorite kind of music was, and his response was simple; “Good music”. Petunia & the Vipers’ sound may not sit comfortably in one certain genre, but “Good Music” describes it well. Hank Williams on acid… Tom Waits meets Elvis at Woody Guthrie’s Hobo junction… Avant-Country night club scene music… One of the best bands in the world today, of any kind… hillbilly-flavoured-swing inflected-ragtime-goodtime-thunderously rolling-one-of-a-kind-you-don’t-want-to-miss-this-sort-of-a-show… A new music that springboards off of music of the past and jumps into the present day, left with only echoes of the past… Something in between 1920’s and steam punk. It’s good for your mind… These are just a few of the words uttered by folks around the globe trying to pin down a description of all that is Petunia & The Vipers.
It has been four years since Jill Zmud has played a show. It is not a hiatus that the singer-songwriter had intended to take, but funny what becoming the mother of three will do... So, after finding her guitar somewhere beneath crayons, laundry baskets and superhero capes, she is ready to try some of her torch-folk tunes again, and step back into a soundscape of remembrances, romance, and robberies gone wrong... stories that delve into her family's past and her own future.
You might hear songs from the album that got her nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award. You might hear songs from the other one that got a lot of airplay on college radio. You might hear a new song or two. You might hear the phrase, "Wait, wait, I remember the chord now". But hopefully not.
Photo credit Brian Goldschmied