Music lovers revelled in the folk, roots, and blues sounds of Gordie Tentrees and his friends on Saturday night at the beautifully restored Watson and District Heritage Museum. The murals, spotlighting images of the developing prairies, were the perfect backdrop for the packed house performance. Bob Hamilton on pedal steel and mandolin and Jaxon Haldane on an arsenal of instruments, including a haunting turn on a bow played handsaw, were a roots music lovers dream. The audience laughed, sang and chatted with the trio throughout the show, adding to the atmosphere of an east-coast kitchen party.
The openers “Wind Walker” and “Bygone Days” set the tone with driving foot played percussion infused with bluegrass and folk. Gordie’s stories are fuelled by folklore, personal experience, and sometimes a wistful longing for simpler times. The openers featured Tentree’s deft fingerpicking interlaced with staccato breaks and Hamilton’s soaring and often ethereal pedal steel.
Many of his songs were prefaced with hilarious and often touching narratives, running the gamut of the bittersweet loss of a friend to illness to the challenges of harbouring kids who are into craft beards and man buns. The songs are extensions of his stories, all genuine and laced with poetry. His wry sense of humour and uncanny ability to connect with his audience had everyone enchanted. Those stories were often cautionary tales with messages that sometimes “less is more” and admonitions that “not everything is about you.”
Tentrees ventured off into some delta blues with a beloved resonator guitar, a gift from a mentor. His slide stylings and earthy voice evoked Muddy Waters and Mississippi. From a harrowing experience in the Boston Marathon bombings, to his 17 year career as a boxer, and a travelogue for “moms gone rogue,” Gordie drew the audience in with tales of triumphs and tragedies, humour and heartache. His virtuoso musical partners were at home with a bluegrass breakdown or a hard-driving country beat.
A perfect venue for a small, intimate concert, the Museum itself, housed in a historic bank building on Main Street, Watson deserves an exploration on its own. The audience walked away delighted with the event.
Tentrees made the stop in Watson as part of a western Canada swing.