Downtown Music Crawl with Peter Willie Youngtree, Ginger Snaps, Jon Mckiel, Susie Asado and Painful Shivers

Various Venues, St. John's NL, April 26

BY Stephen CarlickPublished Apr 26, 2015

Sunday's Downtown Music Crawl followed the same format as the Quidi Vidi edition on Saturday.

It started at Model Citizen, where Painful Shivers performed a brief set, then moved to Phil's Barber Shop, a tiny basement "venue." There, Berlin's Susie Asado (it's a band, not a person — they're named after a Gertrude Stein poem) played four songs to a crammed-in crowd of music fans and, in a lot of cases, their small (and vocal, bless 'em) children. The singers arranged their set acoustically this time, playing violin, clarinet, ukulele and, at one point, kazoo, for an enthralled audience.

"It's going to be really quiet," warned Jon Mckiel in the hot yoga room. Mckiel played a clean electric guitar and sang unmiked, but he sounded fine, his conversational singing voice mirroring the everyday details of his songs in a way not unlike the Weakerthans' John K. Samson. His second song, "I Know," ended abruptly and effectively with a reverb-y solo, and his last tune was a cleanly picked ditty.

From there, the crowd moved to Afterwords bookstore, where local duo Ginger Snaps were waiting to play an upbeat, folksy set on a ukulele and an assortment of other novel instruments. "This is our punk rock song — as punk as we can get," joked Jen Cake, one half of the duo, as they led into another tune about being 24 that ended with a sung-screamed, "It doesn't matter anymore!" A "love song" for Jen by Ginger Snaps' other half, Aine McLellan, featured a melodica solo, and they followed it with Hank Williams' "So Lonesome I Could Cry." "Country Song" found the duo singing with a twang before visiting Halifax singer Becca South contributed a pretty, haunting little ode on ukulele, accompanied by accordion and sung in her vibrato-heavy alto. The duo then closed as they started: with a pretty, fun little song about Jupiter that featured a solo on a plastic, trumpet-shaped kazoo.

At the Rocket, the crawl's end point, Peter William Youngtree started by stating that, "I have nothing you can dance to; I'm just a folk singer," the kind of direct, simple statement that troubadours like him have made famous for decades. Complete with Dylanesque "ya dee dah days," Youngtree proved to be a classicist folkie; "Everything we are is reflection," he sang on his world-weary first track, "Forces of Nature," complete with references to "fools." Most of the songs he played will be on his forthcoming LP, Country Hymns, including the plodding "Beauty Just the Same," about the only-very-small differences between love and hate: "I hate-love the world, like I hate-love myself." Another song, based on a dismal hitchhiking journey, was particularly poignant.

He ended with sing-along "Prayer for Our Enemies," which was catchy enough to get the crowd singing but not so simple as to feel cliché or hackneyed. It was one of Lawnya Vawnya's many special moments, and provided a nice closer to the rainy Downtown Music Crawl.

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