Shakin’ a Leg in Central Yukon


The tiny mining town 60 km north of Mayo is just far enough off the beaten track to possess exotic appeal. Ask Lara Lewis, vocalist and keyboardist for the Whitehorse band, Black Iron Blossom.“Keno has a certain allure to it,” says Lewis. “It’s the town at the end of the road.”It’s an allure that prompted Lewis’s band and fellow Whitehorse tunesters Soul Migration to make the journey north and perform at the Keno City Hotel bar on Saturday, August 30th.The concert is part of the first annual Keno-Gras, a Labour Day weekend celebration that includes costumes, beads, and a parade on Sunday afternoon.It was Lewis’s band-mate Sam Gallagher, on the lap steel guitar, who spearheaded the show.“My family and I have been going up to Keno yearly for twelve years,” says Gallagher. “I always thought about playing music up there, and I heard the bar was open.”He approached hotel owner Leo Martel with the idea, and the gig was booked. When it came to finding another band for the double-bill, Gallagher’s decision was a no-brainer.“I heard Soul Migration play at Sunstroke and I really enjoyed them,” he says. “And David has property in Keno.”“David” is David Sutton, who plays the keys for Soul Migration along with fellow members, Roxx Hunter Hunter, Pam Phillips, Alex Machidon, and David Searcy (who will be replaced by Marc Paradis on drums for this occasion). Sutton has been a fan of Keno for a long time.“I know everyone up there and they are all really great people,” he says.But for residents who are used to seeing Sutton host piano sing-alongs at the Keno City Snack Bar, his latest incarnation may be a change of pace.Soul Migration, which has been together nearly a year, plays a soul-pop-funk-rock hybrid that includes standards from the likes of James Brown, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson. They also play a few of their own songs, like guitarist Roxx Hunter’s “Give Me Water”.Those in attendance should pay special attention to high-energy frontman Alex Machidon, or so says bass player Pam Phillips.“I kept hearing about Alex, and when I heard him I couldn’t believe what was coming out of him,” she says.The other half of the bill, Black Iron Blossom — which consists of Lewis, Gallagher, Aubrey Sicotte on drums, Dan Bouck on bass, and Jean Langlois — will bring a songwriting focus to the concert. The rock-and-blues influenced outfit will be dishing up a set list heavy on originals, which isn’t to say that personal hubris dominates the band.“Nobody lets anybody else’s ego get too big,” says Lara Lewis. “We just learn about music and become better musicians.”This winter, Black Iron Blossom hopes to take their project one step further and lay some tracks down in the studio.However, until then, they’ve got other business to attend to; after all, playing in Keno is an exotic occasion.Black Iron Blossom and Soul Migration will perform at the Keno City Hotel bar on Saturday August 30, as part of Keno-Gras. The music will start exactly when it starts and not a moment sooner.

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