Shoot the Horse
Road ghosts, fallen shows and the blur of years built by song, sweat and stage noise. Americana-edged rock and roll tangled with the continuous trail of broken strings, headlights and a hell of a lot of laughter. You'd be looking at the guiding force behind Dave McCann and the Ten Toed Frogs and their third release Shoot the Horse. Recorded live off the stage in Edmonton Alberta, at the long surrendered Sidetrack Cafe - one of Canada's loved and long gone music venues. It's a night of finality and a transitional line between recorded material and live performance. You can almost feel the anticipation of the beer soaked Canadian tavern crowd. It's the kinda feel Gram Parsons tried to emulate for his 'Medley Live from Northern Quebec' on 1974's Grievous Angel. "I've always felt restrained in a studio, unable to tap into the natural unharnessed fury of live performance. Recording live - it's like the crowd becomes the producer, you feed off each other. The better the crowd is the better the show, so just knowing this was our last night in the place we had nothing left to lose, you could feel that shadow, the fire of execution, the hangman's noose, the wrecking ball, it was the last train, and that was instrumental to us removing any limitations." From the longing optimism of the first cut, "Tinseltown" to the blistering crash of "Joe's Bones" Shoot the Horse shimmers with the tonality of seventies tinged country rock. The songs are poeticaly cryptographic, lyrically panoramic and pendulate between languid meters, heartfelt shuffles and the sonic crunch of guitar driven dedication. It's unyielding, it defies category, and although it seems to burn the bridge between classic rock and country it doesn't really sit welded to any of these genres. "The songs emerge from the road and the haunts we've been forced to play, I grew up on AC/DC, Iron Maiden and A.M. Country Radio. I despised Country Radio, it was my mothers music, those creepy twangy nasal crooners, the pathetic sad tales, all those illegitimate complaints from the losing end. Go figure though, it somehow ended up mixed in as a part of my musical blackboard none the less." So quotes delivered from Canadian press like, "Motorhead-meets-Merle Haggard." or " Rocks like some Crackling 70s Outlaw Classic" come with no shock. Previous releases "Country Medicine" (2004) and "Woodland Tea"(2000) garnered Dave international acclaim, brought him some great shows across Canada and into the States and won him the hearts of a few critics and a lot of fans. "We've been fortunate in our shows over the years, Canada's large folk festivals, gigantic country festivals, mountain festivals, saloons, barn weddings, legendary clubs. We've shared the stage with great line ups, the big name people, the mid-rangers from Canada, the small alt-misfit oddballs that talk to themselves in the cold dark night as they drive their van from Calgary over the Rogers Pass in October to make sound check in Vancouver at 2:00 the next day. Ya, I'd say we've been lucky." Songs from "Country Medicine" and "Woodland Tea" were also included in the award-winning soundtrack to the film Hank Williams First Nation as well as the TV series. The film soundtrack included songs from Joe Ely, Billy Joe Shaver, Hank Williams and others and it ended up taking home "Best music in a motion picture" at the Nashville Film Festival in 2005. Shoot the Horse may intend an end, in some regards, but it also signifies an emergence, a beginning, as it marks the addition of Vancouver's pedal steel legend Charlie Hase to the band along with Pete Loughlin on bass and Vancouver drummer Tim Williams, as well as the warm and tremendous twang of long time guitarist Dave Bauer. The performances are true to form. They feel alive, natural and unrehearsed and, in today's world of clinical studio perfection this comes as a reprieve. So all in all Shoot the Horse is exactly what a live recording should be, the artists true to themselves in all their unvarnished glory shedding restraint and bringing the world their fire. "I'm a hand build artist and writer, and I'm fine with that. People tell me even my best known songs seem to be unheard gems, there's some folk charm there, so I'm ok with that, too. Truthfully though, as an artist I'd like to surpass obscurity before my death and on many levels Canada makes that a pretty difficult journey." Some cynical son of a gun once said "There is a no more glorious and comfortable dead end than a life in Canadian show-biz." "Hell...Canadian show-biz is a picnic, it's the twelve hours between shows in the van that scares me."