Joshua Burning

JUST LIKE IN THE MOVIES:  Joshua Burning at the Jaffray Pub and Grill, Saturday, March 20th, 2010. 9pm to midnight

It was like a scene from a movie. You know the one I mean. The scene where a group of dusty travelers way out in the boonies stop at a wayside tavern and when they walk into the bar they greeted with the great funky sounds of a neat little country band. And the question the travelers ask “who are these guys and why are they out here in the middle of no where”? The middle of nowhere just happens to be Jaffray and the band is “Joshua Burning”.

I’ve probably driven past the Jaffray Pub and Grill a thousand times and without a personal invite from the band “Joshua Burning” I probably would have driven past it another thousand times. The band, a duo, of Garnet Waite and Keith Larsen, both on vocals, guitars and mandolins, was the featured act of the evening. Garnet is a long time Kimberley resident who is well known for his country sounds and his song writing skills.  Keith Larsen, a Scandinavian immigrant (private joke) from way back is better known for his prodigious skills on guitar, mandolin, dobro, harmonica and banjo. He skips easily back and forth between classic rock, bluegrass and various forms of acoustic music. As a duo their name “Joshua Burning” is a nod towards the legendary country singer Grant Parsons who, upon his death, wished to have his ashes spread over the landscape in California’s Joshua Tree National Park. When he died, as we all must do eventually, his body was stolen from L.A.X. international airport by his best buddy, Phil Kaufman and taken to Joshua Tree Park where it was incinerated with a jerry can of high test gasoline. All of this was illegal and against park policy and for his efforts Kaufman was fined $750 for the theft of the coffin. Now there’s something that should be in the movies.

The music of “Joshua Burning” is basically funky country roots music.   Garnet has the guitar chops, the writing skills, the looks and the voice of a classic country singer. If he had of moved to Calgary in his youth, brought a white Stetson, cowboy boots and a big silver buckle he would probably be a big country star by now. Keith is a big burly blue-collar type of guy who looks the part of a country performer when he launches into some of his blazing runs on guitar or mandolin.

On Saturday I missed the first set of mostly original material but I arrived in time for their cover of the classic narrative motor cycle song, “Vincent Black Lightning”. Originally by the British rocker Richard Thompson, Garnet has owned this song for many years. And although other performers in area cover the song Garnet, using Thompson’s original open tuning, has the local definitive version. Keith Larsen is also no slouch on this tune and together they bought “red molly” to life on the back of that Vincent motor cycle.  Then it was on through the repertoires of Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, Bob Dylan, Led Zepplin, Old Crow Medicine Show (“Wagon Wheels”) and last but not least one more of Garnet’s original songs called “Highwater Channel”.

“Joshua Burning” may have been the star of the show but the venue was more than an innocent bystander.  The Jaffray Pub is an impressively spacious room. Reportedly costing over two million dollars there is nothing like it in Kimberley or Cranbrook. The bar is a big high ceiling room with space for dancing and comfortable seating. There is a band stand and, more than that on it there is room to actually move around without knocking fellow musicians onto the dance floor.  A spacious bandstand is an almost unheard of amenity in this area. For live music this is a wonderful room and one I will want to visit again next time I am wandering down the road looking for a funky tavern with funky music.

Published in the Townsman, (with a photo), Wednesday March 24th, 2010 page 7


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