The Midnight Sons Band is fresh off a tour and ready to rock. On Saturday, October 3, the band is presenting – and performing at – Rock the North, which is an all-ages dance at the Yukon Convention Centre featuring the rockabilly/psychobilly band Ryan McNally and his Red Hot Ramblers, and Victoria bluesman Jesse Roper.
It’s an exciting time for The Midnight Sons singer/guitarist Alex Johnston, guitarist Daniel Stark and drummer Patrick Docherty. The trio has played festivals like SunFest Country Music Festival in Cowichan Valley, BC, and last month’s BreakOut West showcase in Victoria, making an impression on everyone who sees them, including Western Canadian Music Award winning producer, David J. Taylor.
“At our last show, David Taylor said that he wanted to do an album with us next,” Alex Johnston says. “He said that we sounded like the band of next year. He thinks it’s awesome that we don’t have a bass player. He says Don’t get a bass, don’t mess your sound up.” The band occasionally hire a bass, when playing larger venues in order to fill out the sound.
Along their tours, The Midnight Sons encountered Jesse Roper and immediately became fans.
“We saw him first play in Victoria when we went down for the Road to SunFest,” Johnston says. “We saw him play and were like, ‘What the hell?’ It was something that we hadn’t seen before, that’s why we wanted to get him up here so badly.”
Roper is a wild blues guitarist, his untamed mass of hair flying as he performs Hendrix-inspired riffs. It’s hard to believe that he only gained enough confidence to perform in his late 20s. Roper admits, “I still get nervous before every show, it’s something that I battle with myself a little bit.”
He’s the kind of artist that has to be seen live. While his skill shows on his songs and albums, it’s in live performances that he really comes alive.
“I get that a lot,” Roper says. “It’s hard to simulate the same excitement as in the studio. It’s just different. I’m just so excited and happy when I’m playing on the stage.”
Roper is no stranger to the Yukon. He’s played Arts in the Park and the Sunstroke Music Festival, and more than that, he has a family connection.
“My aunt and cousins live up there. It’s nice to go up there and spend some time with them in their natural habitat, see what it’s all about,” he says. “I’d live up there. If I wasn’t doing music, I’d live up there, I love it.
“Hiking and biking. The first time I was up there, I borrowed my cousin’s bike. It was 24 hours of sun and I went mountain biking from 10 o’clock at night until 6 in the morning. It was one of the coolest experiences in my life.”
It was while looking forward to a visit to the Yukon that he wrote the song “Yukon Girl.”
“I had this song inside my head and I was thinking about going to the Yukon, and I thought, ‘I’ve got a lovely Yukon lady.’ I wasn’t sure where I was going to go with it. Just the idea of meeting a girl and having some fun together and she turns out to be a witch and tries to kill me. That’s the idea.”
The Midnight Sons Band are thrilled to be presenting him again to a Yukon audience. Says Johnston, “He’s definitely export-ready. It’s awesome we get to see him before he gets too big.”
Ryan McNally, Jesse Roper and The Midnight Sons Band perform at Rock the North on Oct. 3 at the Yukon Convention Centre. Tickets for Rock the North are available at Dean’s Strings and at the door.