Kicking off the Maritime Tattoo Festival, many foreigners to the Seahorse Tavern got to experience first hand Halifax’s infamous night of rockabilly madness. Between the unofficial count of mustaches (curled ones at that), tattooed sleeves and nipple tassels, the night was memorable, to say the least.
Sponsored by Molson and Live 105, the first act on stage Friday night was Big City Rockers. The four piece band from Bedford NS started the toe tapping sensation with both original tunes and a few classic covers including “Blue Suede Shoes” and “I Fought the Law.” While the entire band rocked as a whole, the sole female player, Agnes Laan, jammed on her fretless bass as if it was on fire.
Whether it was done intentionally or coincidentally, the wait for Le Noir to take the stage dragged on FOR-EV-ER. Taking (what seemed to be) ten times longer to get her clothes on than it did it take ‘em off, Le Noir knew how to build anticipation. Strutting to front stage in her black flapper girl dress, the brunette beaut shook sassily, kissed a photographer and drove the crowd wild.
Between sets artist Janette Rawding caught the eye of many with her Rocky Horror inspired sugar skull painting, which she worked on side stage throughout the course of the night.
Next up, The Trouble Shooters. No strangers to the Rockabilly Riot, the guys delivered rock ‘n’ roll tunes to the worked up audience. As front man Chris Martin sang aloud, “It was a teenage wedding and the old folks wished them well,” the crowd bopped and jived like a scene out of Johnny Depps’s 1990 film Cry Baby.
The lovely Kay Liscious joined the band on stage in her long button up white shirt and flashy silver bra. Teasing the spectators, Kay was all smiles as she slowly danced out of her clothes. Like many Rockabilly nights prior, the band didn’t fail to play the essentials: Little Richard and Chuck Berry. Le Noir returned to the stage decked in red with feathered fans. By the time covers of “Shake Your Money Maker” and “My Girl is Red Hot” were played, the dance floor was at a full swing.
Following The Trouble Shooters a limbo contest went down; the prize being passes to the Tattoo Convention at the Forum. By this point booze had made contestants bendy, so luckily no backs were broken.
After another daring dance from Kay Liscious, Ginger St. James and her band took stage to wrap up the night. A fiery hot Hamiltonian, Ginger wailed on her blue hollow body electric guitar, strumming Johnny Cash twang accompanied by a voice comparable but less haunted sounding than Hellcat, front woman of Rockabilly band The Creepshow.
“I did a lot of singing on the way here,” Ginger said. “There’s not a lot to do on the Trans Canada highway. Except maybe gnaw off your arm.”
With songs varying from cryin’ blues to “love diddys” Ginger told the remaining rockers before playing one of her more “lovie” tracks, “I don’t write a lot of ‘em that’s why it’s only 1:30 long.” Wasting no time between songs, Ginger was back in full swing with a cover of “Devil Dance,” originally performed by Sippie Wallace and featured her first EP titled Spank, Sparkle and Growl. Before ending the set, Ginger and the gang also played “Beer Bottle Pockets,” the first single from her new EP called Diesel & Peas.
The night was not only a wicked kick off to the Tattoo Festival, but also a real demonstration of how awesome Halifax’s music scene really is. To those who supported the event: rock on.