First things first, I must confess that it was my intent to have prepared more new material by now but as always, life happened. But rather than letting sleeping dogs lie, I thought I’d help wake up the pup once again now that fall is upon us. It seemed like there was no better way to do that than for Jon and I to go down to one of our favourite Regina watering holes, the Fat Badger, to catch a little music from Devon Floyd and Ian Cameron on Thursday, September 8th. The following is a short review of that performance.
This was not my first time seeing Devon and it won’t be my last. I jumped at the chance to watch him perform again because he is one of my favourite Regina musicians. His songs have the honesty you’d expect from someone raised on a farm near Fairy Glen, Saskatchewan with the charm and wit that I have come to learn often comes hand in hand with a rural upbringing. To keep it interesting, Devon does not limit himself to the simple subject matter often found in his rural folk/roots style. His songs are often politically or philosophically charged, as one might expect from a songwriter with degrees in political science and education? Don’t worry though, every pointed comment he makes is done with the brightest of smiles and tongue planted firmly in his cheek. At one point he even declared to the audience that “if we all hold hands, someone’s going to drown.”
When it comes to Devon’s music, I could tell you about his meat-and-potatoes approach to guitar playing or his wonderfully brash, emphatic voice. But the simplest, most important fact is this: his songs are fantastic. His most recent release, “Winter Has An End,”was recorded in 2013 and released this year. Despite being written three years ago, this song is a fantastic example of Devon’s genuine prairie songwriting.
By pairing the coldest, harshest parts of a relationship to the cold, harsh winter we all know in Saskatchewan, Devon has created a Sinclair Ross-level analogy that will cut to the core of any folk and roots fan that has lived on the prairies. It is this sort of viscerally identifiable imagery that makes Devon’s music so great. It it my sincerest hope that he will release new recordings soon, as I am thirsty to hear some of my favourite of his live tunes.
In terms of his live performance, Devon’s songs support themselves. He delivers them with honesty and charm the same way he writes them, and with the careful support of Ian Cameron’s smooth and beautiful pedal steel guitar playing, the songs maintain a real strong live energy. Though I think steel guitar is on the rise in the Saskatchewan music scene (see Wolf Willow, Dumb Angel, Blake Berglund, and other various solo projects), the combination of Ian’s steel with Devon’s songs may always be my favourite. There are too few truly tasteful musicians like Ian who can maintain such a clear musical voice while supporting the intent of the song and the singer. So to me it’s simple: next time you want to hear a Joel Plaskett type songwriter or need to be tucked into the sheets of a bed made of steel guitar, Devon and Ian are the guys to go watch.
With love from Dana.
See Devon next Tuesday, September 27th at O’Hanlon’s in Regina with Carl Johnson.