Cousin Harley put on a well-received show as part of the North Island Concert Society season series at the Civic Centre Saturday night.

‘Cousin’ a hit in Port Hardy reunion

North Island Concert Society brings rockabilly act to Port Hardy Civic Centre.

A review by

J.R. Rardon

PORT HARDY—The North Island Concert Society could hardly be expected to book George Jones, Hank Williams, Jim Reeves, Bob Wills, Bill Hailey and Bing Crosby for its show at the Civic Centre.

But the society accomplished the same thing by bringing in their cousin.

Cousin Harley, the fingerpicking, rockabilly alter-ego of Vancouver guitarist Paul Pigat, energized a boisterous and appreciative audience of nearly 200 fans Saturday in the second event of the 2013-14 NICS concert season.

A spare trio, with Pigat on guitar and vocals, Keith Picot on bass and Steve Taylor on drums, Cousin Harley nonetheless provided a perfect sonic storm on a night when the concert society donated all the proceeds from its regular raffle table to benefit the Filipino victims of typhoon Haiyan.

Pigat and his mates ensnared the crowd from the opening rave-up, his self-penned Hey Babe, and left it whistling and cheering with the final encore, their take on the Johnny Burnette version of Train Kept A-Rollin’.

But Pigat wears many hats as a guitarist and performer, and modelled them all at various points in the evening. Possessed of a rocker’s drive, a country singer’s storytelling sensibility, a jazzman’s improvisational chops and a bluesman’s innate feel for the emotion in each note, Pigat kept the audience engaged throughout the evening.

A number of the crowd turned the open space alongside the seating area into a dance floor and jived, boogied and swung, depending on the mood of the song.

Cousin Harley delivered a therapeutic dose of hillbilly rave-ups and country swing from the likes of Williams (Fool About You), Merle Travis (Big Fat Gal of Mine, Divorce Me C.O.D.), Billy Jack Wills (I’m Feelin’ Bad), Jones (Too Much Water, The Race is On) and Reeves (Yonder Comes a Sucker).

But Pigat also showed a mellower, jazzy side with stylized, instrumental takes of Pat Ballard’s Mr. Sandman and Santo and Johnny’s haunting, evocative 1959 instrumental Sleepwalk. Pigat also acceded to a request by Picot and Taylor to kick off a two-song encore with his solo interpretation of the somber, depression-era Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?, made popular by both Al Jolson and Crosby.

Interspersed among these songs and blues standards like Bob Wills’ Brain Cloud Blues were a variety of Pigat originals, all authentic to the period, like B’hiki Pop, Jukin’, Obdacious and Hot Little Baby.

With regular drummer Jesse Cahill unavailable due to an untimely case of food poisoning, Pigat didn’t lose a beat by bringing back Taylor, Cousin Harley’s original drummer. Taylor and Picot actually were more flamboyant on stage. Sporting a purple suit, Picot was a bass-slapping, eye-rolling, head-banging dervish prone to picking up his upright bass and marching it around the stage while playing. He also needed no microphone to punctuate Pigat’s vocals with a series of affirming yells and echoes.

Pigat, meanwhile, let his fingers do most of the juking on the fretboard of his telecaster. And that was plenty good enough.

It was a second straight win for the concert society in its 16th season, following last month’s popular performance by Everything Fitz. NICS also raised $700 in its raffle for typhoon Haiyan victims. The society will now take a hiatus until Feb. 22, when original Canadian Tenor Ken Lavigne appears in front of his full band to sing a mix of standards and classical-pop crossover in the society’s annual dinner show.

For more information, visit www.niconcert.ca.

 

 

Just Posted

North Island Eagles minor rep ockey organization hand out year-end awards in Port McNeill

It was quite the season and then some for minor rep hockey here in the North Island.

North Island resident to campaign on climate, economy for Liberal Party seat in Ottawa

Peter Schwarzhoff joins race for the second time in North Island-Powell River riding

Press release: Port Alice Health Centre service model announced

“a sustainable and dependable model of health care service delivery in Port Alice is a priority”

First annual Pride Day coming to Port Hardy in August

Pride contributes to a more inclusive and safe community for LGBTQ+ identifying individuals.

Blaney plan helps seniors late with taxes

Simple solution to important issue: North Island-Powell River MP

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to B.C.

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone charity weekend in Kelowna

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Most Read