“Saturday’s Silver Hearts show at Tranzac – the band’s first Toronto show since they played the Dakota back in November – was a triumphantly fun whirlwind set to a packed crowd. So packed, in fact, that one audience member cleared away some tables for a dance floor.
Listening to the band’s albums, including No Place, Our Precious City and Dear Stranger (a 2006 collab with Andre Ethier), it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the group are a musical freight train live, barrelling at you with their strange concoction of blues, folk, ragtime, jazz and Tin Pan Alley, peppered with creepy saw solos, and sometimes sounding (in the best possible way) like you are at a wake.
The group don’t take themselves too seriously – one of the songs they played was a soliloquy on the erotic life of Wookies, and by the end of the show the pianist/trumpet player was on the bar – but they aren’t just kitschy either: this is tear-in-your-beer bar music at its best.
Fronted by (the very tall) Trevor “Tiny” Davis, the Silver Hearts took turns singing the tunes, with accordionist Kelly Pineault singing Danny, and harmonica player Patrick Walsh taking lead on my personal favourite, Whiskey Talkin’.
And good news: the band is planning on making a new record (its first in eight years) this year.”
– Sarah Green, NOW Magazine Review, 2014
“They meant to rehearse for a one-off gig, but instead taproom troubadour Andre Ethier and the Peterborough roots orchestra the Silver Hearts hungered down till a new album was born. It’s earthy, rough, tumble… the result wins the Honest Music blue ribbon for boozy laments and shambling rockers… Dear Stranger, you’re welcome any time.”
– Review of Dear Stranger by Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail
“I always knew there was something going on in Peterborough. Everyone I’ve ever met from that mid-Ontarian college town drinks way too much, makes tons of noise and has the ravenous look of circus folk in their eyes. God bless ’em every one.
“If all of the above generalizations ring true, then the Silver Hearts are Peterborough’s finest ambassadors. The three-year-old, thirteen-member outfit is a loud, jubilant celebration of everything beautiful and strange… First a fine point: Though the band may play with all the joy and enthusiasm of third graders, they are consummate musicians all.
“They just happen to be lucky enough to have a harmonica, accordion, dobro, thremin, fiddle, musical saw, sousaphone, trumpet, trombone, banjo, piano, electrical and acoustic guitars, a lap and pedal steel to play with – as well as a guitorgan. The vaudevillian cacophony is as brilliant and planned as it is boisterous and exhuberant.”
– Hour Montreal
“Triumphant, passionate and inspiring are not adjectives that usually describe showcase gigs but Peterborough’s finest folkestra fed a frenzied crowd with Sadie-ish country, barrel-house blues, New Orleans hot jazz and otherworldly duets between the musical saw and theremin. Must be seen to be believed!”
“Their tunes might recall something by a wine-whipped country string band… one moment and then a bluesy-woozy outtake from Tom Waits’ Bone Machine the next, and they have no qualms about wailing a teary ballad at the drop of a Stetson.
“The Silver Hearts don’t need to wear tin sheriff’s deputy badges to set themselves apart. When you travel in a 14-strong posse dressed in matching black suits, you tend to stand out in a crowd.”
– Tim Perlich, Now Magazine
“I saw a dozen musicians climb on stage with no less than 15 instruments including sousaphone, bass trombone, accordion, pedal steel, guitar, saw and theremin! Imagine if you will, Tom Waits dropping acid with Ian Tyson and jamming in New Orleans. The cacophony of sounds rising and falling from the stage was like nothing I had ever heard. Manitoba Hal Brolund, a brilliant multi-instrumentalist in his own right, stood shaking his head. “Wow!” was all he said. People were cheering, laughing, standing, clapping and having a grand old time. I would drop any plans I had in order to see this band!… business had taken a backseat, music had triumphed. This is what it’s all about!”
“A concert by the Silver Hearts is like a steaming pot of gumbo. Knock back a mouthful and you’ll find a little bit of everything in it: ragtime, cow-punk, Tin Pan Alley, little chunks of bluegrass. Loose-limbed and good-natured, The Silver Hearts music is also tight and centred.”
– Patrick Langston, Ottawa Citizen