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Review: The Hourhand show versatility on the Coors Event Centre Vizzy Stage (June 2/2023)

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

by Scott Roos

photos by Deanna Roos

The Hourhand's Cole Van Woert and Gray Farrow (photo By Deanna Roos)

On Friday, June 2nd, music lovers in the Saskatoon area were treated with a heaping portion of rock n’ roll goodness as Seven Mile Sun, Sparrow Blue and The Hourhand took over the Vizzy Stage at Coors Event Centre. If you’ve never been to a “Vizzy” show, basically the much larger venue pulls its main stage forward, creating a more relaxed pub style environment in the process. Their modus operandi is to provide smaller, independent, local acts the opportunity to have the full “rock star” treatment in terms of professional quality lighting and sound.

Seven Mile Sun doing what they do best (photo by Deanna Roos)

In terms of the show itself, while the venue was far from packed, it did have a decent crowd of supporters for each of the three bands on the bill. Seven Mile Sun, from the Harris/Tessier area took the stage first and launched into their tight, energetic, brand of bluesy rock. Vocalist Kevin Stevens has a more pop imbibed voice which offsets the group’s predominantly guitar heavy sonics. Songs like “Trigger Man” and “Love Sails” are highlights of every Seven Mile Set and they did not disappoint on this night but “Boy & the Queen” which is sung by drummer Kimberly Stevens is quickly becoming an audience favourite.

Next up was St. Albert, Alberta’s Sparrow Blue. Packing the stage with a two guitarists, a drummer, vocalist, bassist and a percussionist, the group delivered a series of sleazy, southern rock stompers. Clad in a white t-shirt and blue jeans, looking more like a Springsteen knock off than a Skynyrd or Allman wannabe, vocalist Des Parks howled over the instrumental business going on behind him. The energy of this crew was palpable. “Makeshift Alabama” featured guitarists Jon Dombroski and Chad Plamondon doing the twin lead guitar routine over a riff that can only be described as catchy AF. “Touchdown Turbulence” featured an acrobatic bass solo from Jack Hansen.

Sparrow Blue - hard driving and sleazy is their wheelhouse of choice. (photo by Deanna Roos)

The main event of the evening, however, was Regina’s The Hourhand. In the past, this group has come out “guns blazing” and, leading off with one of their signature songs, the distortion infused, crash bash of “Evil” showed that this evening was no exception. Guitarist Cole Van Woert was in fine form shredding with reckless abandon. Van Woert is a legit guitar hero in this province. If you haven’t seen him do his thing yet, do yourself a favour and get out to an Hourhand show. Of course that’s not to take away from the rhythmic precision of drummer Dawson Dressler or the soaring vocals of bassist Gray Farrow. The Hourhand’s talent is essentially off the chain. They are young and hungry rockers waiting for their big break. They get better every time they perform.

The students of the game approach and their push to constantly improve musically is one of the most endearing things about The Hourhand, actually. For this particular performance, about half way through, Farrow ditched his bass in favour of a keyboard and the band launched into three or four songs that can only be described as straight ahead blues before going back to their heavier format to finish things up.

Straight ahead blues is a different musical take for the guys. It shows a band that is evolving and maturing. It shines a light on one thing perhaps that had been lacking in the past: versatility. The Hourhand can hit you over the head with a sandy textured, frayed, burlap sack, chock full of rusty hammers in the vein of Thin Lizzy, Nazareth, Sabbath, AC/DC and Zeppelin. And if you dig that kinda thing you will f*cking like what The Hourhand is laying down. Hell, you'll love it. All your favourite bands from the days of yore are in that concussionary discharge. But now, with this bluesier shit that they're experimenting with, the boys can also pull out a pair of zircon encrusted tweezers for a more articulate approach. Ha... Well damn... These guys are pretty awesome.

At any rate, this was a solid show and very enjoyable. Many thanks to Coors Event Centre for having us out.

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