Lonesome tales and the dark horse
photo and words by tiina liimu
When asked if these dark ballads are fact or fiction? “They are all factual,” answers the lead vocalist and guitarist-harmonica player Gordon Smith. Losing many friends and family early in life, “Everything from car accidents to suicides, homicides, drugs, booze, guns and the list goes on and on,” he recalls and “the name Percheron comes from a large breed of work horses my dad use to have a lot of them on our farm in Nova Scotia.” Growing up with a large family of six brothers and three sisters also provides much nourishment for material. “Percheron reminds me a lot of my dad so that was my main decision in the name,” he adds.
This beautiful yet melancholy music is indeed ridden with tragedy. “I found my father dead two days before my 20th birthday,” says Smith. “I have broken 26 bones in my body; been put in the hospital for 18 months one time; 324 staples put in my back to repair a fully-transected bronchial tube after being thrown from a car into a tree then crushed in-between the car and tree.”
Percheron is another large family graced with gifted members from many shared and very different musical projects. Gordon Smith and guitarist vocalist Brock MacInnes both play with Tobeatic, Cooked and Eaten and Rotting Hills. Smith is also with the D-beat powered Erosion. Ainsleah Hastings is on vocals and Blake Bamford from Dire Wolves on banjo, guitar and vocals. Tegan Ceschi-Smith from Cornshed came on board through good friends and she plays fiddle and sings vocals. Tim Mathias on bass and vocals is also with The Harmonic Cosmonauts. Drummer, Joel Loewen from Tobeatic introduced Smith to Jacob Mullen on pedal steel. This diversity of heavy and roots brings much weight to the table. “I just show them the base of the song and lyrics and they just take it and go with it,” explains Smith. “They are all such amazing musicians and add so much to every song all of them and so much fun to work with.”
A self-titled 10-inch vinyl with five tracks is getting ready to release late May, early June. Some early cassette tapes were available with Sian MacLeod’s artwork. “We sold out of them in a couple shows,” says Smith. With a prolific working relationship, this project recorded, mixed and mastered by Jesse Gander at the Hive studios is the 28th album they have done together in eight years. A photo book has been compiled for the physical vinyl release and artwork is by Alexis Hogan, a complete package.
This lonesome magic can be experienced with upcoming shows May 3rd in Sooke plus May 4th at Logan’s Pub and you can hear and purchase the self-titled digital release at their Bandcamp now.