Deep-pink ruched stilettos, sparkle-dusted denim dress, red lips, long hair and slim red bandanna tied around the neck, Dolly Varden shifted from foot to foot, setting her skirt swinging, strummed the guitar strung around her and started to sing in a voice clearly present yet suggestive of depths still unexpressed.
To Dolly Varden’s right stands a slicked-back, dark-haired man, suited up in a light-absorbing black hole of a dark suit, playing guitar and singing harmony in a full-toned voice.
Behind Dolly Varden and to her left, a tall, similarly besuited man, dwarfed by his stand-up bass, stands in the background, playing, with a keenly observant attention on his bandmates.
Finally, to Dolly’s direct left sits a fair-haired drummer in a fiery red skirt.
These are her Daredevils.
“Dolly Varden never travels without her daredevils. She’s the fish and they’re the lure,” proclaims Katya McQueen, a sly smile belying her statement. “For one, they’re the handsomest men in Whitehorse.”
The three individuals seated on the couch at The Roastery, clad in the everyday uniform of jeans, T-shirt and caps, don’t give a single suggestion of being three quarters of the four performers described.
Listening closer, Ken Hermanson’s deep-timbered voice suggests he might be the guitar player, as he hides his hair and eyes under his cap, sipping coffee.
And Katya McQueen’s matter of fact speech patterns, when dressed up and put into song, just might belong to the dressed up Dolly Varden.
Matt King could most closely resemble the stand-up bass player, his bare headed curls suspiciously echoing the suited and observant performer.
Hermanson suggests that “on the stage, we’re clad in dark suits, we don’t talk.”
The only performer unable to make it, drummer Stephanie Chest, might be most easily recognizable as her alter-ego, having been slightly less dressed up to begin with.
Having played three gigs so far, they are aiming for more. “We want to go around the corner to the 98. Seriously, get them to call us. We want a once a month gig somewhere in town,” challenges McQueen.
“Otherwise,” adds King, pressing a finger to his lips, speaking through his eyelashes, “we’re just having fun.”
The banter dives and swoops back and forth, each putting a little more into the story of how they emerged a fully fledged musical act.
McQueen adds that there isn’t too much difference: “Before we used to get dressed up in the house and play karaoke.” Giggles erupt and she adds, “Now we go out and play.”
“Ken and Matt said, ‘It’s time now Katya, you have to stop playing in the living room.’ I had to get over my stage fright. Having an alter ego helps with that.”
Hermanson says, “Oh, she’s a great singer, none of us can sing.” McQueen jumps in to reassure that the daredevils are great singers and sing in three-part harmony.
In terms of music, McQueen describes what they play as “definitely old country for sure, although country with a twist. We do add bluegrass to it, Matt helps with that, Ken adds the rock and roll.”
“We try to find the B-sides of country albums that we all enjoy.”
Citing shared loves as George Jones, Luther Wright and the Wrongs and Hank Williams, McQueen adds that, “We all come from a similar musical background. We all hold the same essence of country in our hearts.”
Eventually they would like to add McQueen, Hermanson and King originals to their repertoire.