Article by Nolan and Melanie Macpherson, Photos by Melanie Macpherson
How does one describe that which can't be described? Chesterfield is the genre bending group we all need in our lives. With Melvin Pelvis (Justin Braun), Sister Sadie Wilcox (Kasia Thorlakson), Tom Foolery (Cordell Anderson), Big Spoon (Eric Bubnick), and Dizzy Thicket (Brecken Fenwick) at the helm, this band is not only a musical powerhouse but a riotous rollercoaster ride of entertainment.
I first experienced Chesterfield through the Sit Down Podcast with Mark Poppen and Joel Gaudet. The conversation drew me in, and when they gave out the phone number to the band house, I had to pause. For one, who has a landline anymore? For two, I gotta call. Sister Sadie picked up, and we had a fun chat. I went back and listened to the rest of the podcast; good times.
Fast forward to when we first saw them live. Chesterfield was supporting Dirty and the Perks at the Capitol Music Club. We needed to go because Kale Perkin is one of my favourite people, and we hadn't seen him play yet. His rap number closing the show blew my mind, but that’s not really the topic at hand here so… moving on.
Chesterfield took the stage and confused my mind. Song to song, the tone and genre of music can take a dramatic shift. Not only are the lead vocals shared, but at certain points, the members switch instrumental roles as well. For someone who can't play a single instrument well, I find this quite impressive, to say the least. The absolute diversity of their songs drew us in.
Some of the best conversations at shows happen in certain places. Mostly because they’re a bit quieter. The bathroom is a bit awkward. The merch table and outside smoking area are more in my comfort zone. Face to face conversations with artists are my favourite and in this case, I had a great opening line, "I'm the idiot that called your house!" I got a free button for that. Speaking of merch, they make it all themselves. Tie dye, screen-printed shirts, buttons, CD’s... all made in house. No two are alike, so you can buy a shirt every time you see them. It was a great night overall, and now they had my mug and name in their headspace.
The photo credits in this article go to Melanie Macpherson. This is important, because I blame me writing this article on her. She got involved with North Sask Music Zine and she's got some good articles I highly recommend. I tag along on her adventures. One night in a rather relaxed state of mind, I volunteered to do a piece on Chesterfield. Next-morning-realist Nolan was not happy with night-before-optimistic Nolan at this point, but in for a penny, in for a pound so… here I am. And after getting my wife to help me find and use a word processor, it turns out I can still type not too bad after 20 years or so.
The stars aligned, and Chesterfield was a supporting act for Kit Langfield at his Album release party on April 13th at the Capitol Music Club. We lined up a chat before the show. It was pretty sweet that they got Mel and me on the guest list. I’m not sure I've ever felt that cool before. After a quick hello, we went to the green room for our conversation. To be fair, I was let down by the green room. I expected bowls of color-sorted Skittles, expensive liquor, maybe hookers or something. The rock star life isn't that glamorous, I guess. What did happen amongst the random furniture and assorted music gear was one of the best conversations I've ever had the foresight to record.
Chesterfield is a very diverse 5 piece. I'm talking put me in a blender and call me a smoothie diverse. "We definitely have our own spin on things," according to Sister Sadie. “(Tom's) lyrics are very nature-oriented and very poetic. I’m very straight up. ‘Here's what I see, think and feel. I'm just gonna say it in the simplest way so you can relate to it.’” Melvin says his are kind of like a straight shot. "It's hard to say what my songs are going to be about and how they'll come out."
Their musical style is like a buffet where you can have everything from rock 'n' roll to country, funk to folk, and even a dash of surf pop thrown in for good measure. You never know what flavor you're going to get, but you can bet it'll be a tasty treat for your ears. Melvin is responsible for a lot of the country sounds. Tom brings more grunge and rock and Sister Sadie leans into more of the surf pop. "We all have our musical leanings. Eric for example, he's our resident funk expert. He'll really funk up a song and find these weird pockets that are twisted into them. Eric is what makes our music danceable for the most part."
A song, when it's first written, is usually actually pretty different than what it ends up sounding like. They have to put it through Chester-frying; what the band calls giving a song their stylistic twist. "Whenever we do a cover, We say here's the Chester-fried version. But it happens to original songs too."
Chesterfield's ability to seamlessly switch gears from one genre to another is a testament to their boundless creativity and musical prowess. It's this unpredictability that makes Chesterfield so endearing. They don't take themselves too seriously, and it's evident in their shows. Their chemistry on stage is fun and welcoming, and it's hard not to get caught up in the energy of their performance.
Chesterfield's next performance will be at Moosefest 2023, and as the date quickly approaches, the excitement is not just for the musical adventure that Chesterfield will undoubtedly deliver, but also for the possibility of glimpsing more into the colourful Chesterverse. "We actually are writing a book. We have the Chesterverse and there's so much lore that we’ve already built behind it. It’ll include all of our origin stories. ‘I wrote Dizzy’s the other day, but I’ll tell you about Big Spoon. So basically he's Big Spoon, Honey Daddy. He's the Lord of the Bees and he controls bees. And basically he’s like a naturist and always has a big spoon attached to his belt." You’ll have to wait for ‘The Book’ to hear the rest of Big Spoon's adventures with a hive of genetically modified, hyperintelligent bees, along with all of the other Chesterverse adventures.
Chesterfield isn't just a band; they are a colorful explosion of humor, talent, and imagination that takes their fans on an unforgettable journey through the Chesterverse. So, if you're ready to experience the best game of musical chairs in town and dive headfirst into the whimsical world of the Chesterverse, be sure to catch Chesterfield's performance at Moosefest this year.
Held on August 5th in Bellevue Saskatchewan, and this year MC'd by NSMZ, it's an event you won't want to miss! Now in its third year, Moosefest is bringing you a more diverse pool of local talent than ever including Katelyn Lehner, The Brothers G, Kit Langfield, GreenWing, King of Foxes, Haunt Era, Cupid’s Heart, Electric Religious, and Room 333! Buckle up for a wild musical journey and join us on the ride!