The Yukon creates inspiration for artists of all disciplines. From basement studios and state-of-the-art professional studios-for-hire, this inspiration is finding more of a voice in the Yukon.
One such voice belongs to Gordie Tentrees and can be heard on 29 Loads of Freight. While you probably won’t see this on the Billboard’s Top 100 any time soon, it is still a surprisingly good effort for a first project.
I guess the thing that really surprised me is the short time Tentrees has been at this. Having started a mere five years ago, he has come to a point that many artists can take a decade or two to reach.
All of the songs, except for one, are written by Tentrees. A mostly blues-based group of tunes, there are sprinkles of other influences. But these influences are like a good spice that gives flavour without overwhelming the general taste.
Instrumentally, it is the guitar that gets most of the spotlight, but they also bring in a few surprises such as a horn section comprised of just a trombone. The percussion is snappy, sparse and compliments the rest of the band.
Jim Holland’s production — while nothing fancy — is probably exactly what the group was aiming for. My bet is they wouldn’t use any of the fancy studio tricks available today anyway.
While most of the tunes could be about anywhere and anytime, two of the tunes are specifically Yukon. The first, entitled Dawson City, is a fair try at capturing a unique place. Although, I wonder if any artist, new or old, could truly capture what Dawson City means. The second tune is entitled Whitewater Jam and refers to the weekly jam session held at the Backwater Lounge. This tune, while more melancholy in tone, still manages to capture the feeling lyrically.
Aylie Sparkes is the only special guest and contributes electric guitar leads on three tracks and dobro on one track. Always a tasty player, he was also a big influence on Tentrees to pursue and explore what music can do and be. The other members of the band are Patrick Singh on percussion and Matt King on bass. Micah Smith adds some bass as well as accordion, trombone, organ and, of all things, the saw.
Rounding out the group is Ken Hermanson who shares the electric guitar work along with Tentrees. His playing is clear and clean and has a tone that could have come from a smoky bar in Southside Chicago.
All in all, a promising first effort that indicates real potential for future outings. Don’t forget you can catch these guys live at all sorts of functions around town.