An Insider’s Point of View….
Louis Armstrong was once asked what his favorite kind of music was, and his response was simple; “Good music”. Petunia & the Vipers’ sound may not sit comfortably in one certain genre, but “Good Music” describes it well. Hank Williams on acid… Tom Waits meets Elvis at Woody Guthrie’s Hobo junction… Avant-Country night club scene music… One of the best bands in the world today, of any kind… hillbilly-flavoured-swing inflected-ragtime-goodtime-thunderously rolling-one-of-a-kind-you-don’t-want-to-miss-this-sort-of-a-show… A new music that springboards off of music of the past and jumps into the present day, left with only echoes of the past… Something in between 1920’s and steam punk. It’s good for your mind… These are just a few of the words uttered by folks around the globe trying to pin down a description of all that is Petunia & The Vipers.
If one wished to talk about the birth of the blues, one would need to dig into the influences that preceded it’s birth. The same is true about Petunia & the Vipers. If they followed a recipe and added musical styles as ingredients, it would start by simply adding country and blues, and we’d have your basic dry ingredients right there, but lacking the true essence of their sound. Mix in a dose of ragtime, some Dixieland jazz, a hint of bebop, some western swing and old time cowboy music, a bit of jug band & string band music. Flavor with a significant dose of Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams, and a bit of Blind Willie McTell, Blind Lemon Jefferson and a few more “Blind” spices. Now you’ve got the batter for a cake. Bake on high with the dotted rhythms of Cuban, Mexican, Peruvian, Romanian and African folk music. Ice the whole cake with some punk rock, alternative and Bowie (who also spins off a host of influences of the UK music past), and you’ve got a delectable musical concoction…part old-tyme, part new times, part no time at all, part all-of-the-time…
Sun Ra said, “the key to freedom is discipline”. You cannot break the rules if you do not understand the rules. Petunia and the Vipers’ sound is a familiar and yet wholly new music for that reason: they intimately understand the rules of classic Americana music(s) and where the edges of that painting lie…and they refuse to paint inside of the lines at any time. This is a new and modern band playing unadulterated, unclassified, unleashed sounds that rhyme with older sounds of the past, and are furiously driving the future wave of a new idiom.