January 13, 2013 by bmcconnelluwo
“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash. And I’m June Carter.”
And then he was Tom Petty, Mick Jagger and Gord Downie.
The Ottawa band Silver Creek — led by front man Shawn Tavenier– let loose at the Heart and Crown Preston Street last weekend. It was like taking a giant step back in time and stumbling into a VIP room with all your favorite rock heroes hanging around and drinking craft beer.
It might as well have been a one-band classic rock wonder festival as far as I was concerned.
Silver Creek – lead guitarist Blair Hogan, lead guitarist Nick Gauthier, bassist Mark Laforest and drummer Shawn McEwan – lit up the small stage like no other live band playing covers I have ever seen. And I like to consider myself fairly well versed in live bands playing covers at bars.
The band has been together since the spring of 2006 when they first played on a farm outside of Ottawa. Since then they have played at the Ottawa Blue’s Fest numerous times, opening for Canada’s Blue Rodeo in 2009. Their influences include The Allman Brothers, Neil Young, The Black Crowes, Otis Redding and The Rolling Stones. While starting as primarily a studio band, Silver Creek quickly made the transition to the stage.
The stage is where Shawn Tavenier appears most at home anyway.
What can’t be overlooked when watching this band is Tavenier’s incredible energy and skill – backed up by unbelievable guitar parts by Blair Hogan and Nick Gauthier [I wrote an article on Hogan that can be found here]. Not only does the man play some of rock’s most famous and beloved anthems – he becomes the rock stars that created them.
Not many people have the ability to take an audience to Jackson with Johnny Cash AND June Carter. That’s right. He sings the infamous Jackson duet by himself well enough to make either Joaquin Phoenix or Reese Witherspoon redundant.
And then there’s his impressive Jagger swagger that people have been trying to emulate since the legendary skinny man himself first burst onto the scene in the mid-60s.
Silver Creek’s rendition of “Miss You” from 1978, again, makes you feel like you’re right there at a Stones concert – minus the elephant-killing narcotics.
For each of these covers – Cash, Petty, Jagger, Downie – Tavenier not only nails the vocals convincingly enough to make an inebriated Keith Richards do a double take but also imitates their performance style to the point of being unbelievable.
He becomes the performer – Daniel Day-Lewis would be proud.
Silver Creek’s performance of “Miss You” pulled out all the stops – incredible musicianship, clever banter, Jagger duck walking and a fluffy pink scarf on the mic stand to boot.
Everything about this band’s performance screams incredible talent and a deep love for the music – a trait that seems to have dwindled recently in the mainstream music market.
And Silver Creek does this almost every night.
The band’s love for music and passion for performing is unparalleled by most major bands I’ve seen, regardless of record sales, MTV appearances or supermodel girlfriends. They come out swinging every single song and don’t stop until the crowd is completely transported into whatever year they’re playing from. And then they turn it on again.
Now anyone who knows me knows that I’m one to now-and-again Rage Against the Mainstream Music Industry. In my opinion any band with truly creative sound and unwavering passion for the creation of good music is found either on an indie label or in a bar. Mainstream labels, in my opinion, dilute unique sound and cripple the creative integrity of a band — *cough* The Black Keys *cough*.
I don’t expect everyone to agree with me on that point but I challenge you to put any lyrics off The Black Key’s “El Camino” beside The Acorn’s “Glory Hope Mountain” and tell me there’s no difference in the creativity. If you can, I’ll buy you a ticket to The Black Key’s next concert – but hopefully that doesn’t get rained out because they don’t seem to like that, regardless of their “Rain or Shine” mantra.
My bashing of The Black Keys aside, I really do like them as a band – I’m just mad at the insane shift in their music ever since “Brothers” won all sorts of Grammys. All of a sudden people actually started to show up to their shows… I guess a lot of people watched the Grammys that year.
My point with all this is that it’s refreshing to see a band such as Silver Creek with such incredible talent. But it’s also heartbreaking to know that talent like that is not getting the exposure it deserves.
So I urge whoever reads this blog to go out to a bar or an indie music club and watch one of these incredibly talented bands who are doing it day after day for the love of music.
You’re not going to stumble into Adam Levine or Lil’ John (WHAT?!) but you might just be transported back to Jackson in 1963 by a tall, red-headed guy giving the crowd the old Johnny/June once over. But stay away from him when he turns into Bob Dylan – I hear that guy’s temperamental.
But seriously – if you’re ever in Ottawa, check out Silver Creek, they’re incredible.
— Brendan McConnell