The last time Paul Pigat performed on stage at Port Hardy’s Civic Centre, he kept to one side, seated in a chair, playing a supporting role on guitar while others took the spotlight.
This weekend, the wraps come off.
Pigat, who helped back the gospel/soul trio The Sojourners in that previous appearance for the North Island Concert Society, returns Saturday night as Cousin Harley, a singing, swaying and guitar-flaying purveyor of old-school rockabilly.
Cousin Harley is actually a traditional rockabilly trio, comprised of Vancouver native Pigat on guitar and lead vocal, Keith Picot on upright bass and Jesse Cahill on a spare drum kit (those weaned on the Stray Cats will recognize the ensemble).
The music, as described by the review on Pigat’s website, comprises “classic western swing, hotrod country, surf, psychobilly, lounge and westcoast jump blues.”
In other words, buckle up.
The NICS is known for bringing a wide range of acts to the remote North Island but, other than last year’s notable appearance by the Powder Blues, appearances by high-octane rockers are less a staple than a once-every-few-years diversion.
That said, Pigat, a Canadian known internationally for his virtuosity across a range of styles, has far more than rockabilly in his arsenal.
A consummate pro, Pigat has backed not only The Sojourners, but artists as diverse and accomplished as Jakob Dylan, Jim Byrnes, Neko Case and Carolyn Mark while lending his own distinctive guitar sound to the proceedings.
When he performed here during the 14th NICS concert season, The Sojourners were generous — and wise — enough to allow him his head on several intricate solos and intros to their three-part harmony.
For all the technical artistry that makes him in demand as a session player, Pigat is also a songwriter and singer who excels as front man across a range of styles and genres.
In addition to Cousin Harley, he performs in yet another incarnation, Boxcar Campfire, in which Pigat ladles up country swing, Jimmie Rodgers-style blues and roots music that show a softer side of the rockabilly raver. Oh, and there’s also the Paul Pigat Trio, with its be-bop jazz instrumentals and jazz standards.
Heck, the North Island Concert Society could book this guy every season and never see the same act twice. But, since it’s unlikely that’s going to happen, we recommend you catch Cousin Harley this weekend. Who knows — you may even get a little taste of some of his sonic side dishes.
Tickets are $25 and are available in advance at Port Hardy Museum and Cafe Guido in Port Hardy, at The Flower Shoppe in Port McNeill, and in Port Alice by calling Gail Neely at 250-284-3927.