If the idea was to light up Peterborough’s Historic Red Dog Tavern in the week before Christmas and bring some welcome heat as a respite from the grey chill of December, Mother Earth apparently didn’t get the memo. No matter. Having treated us to weeks of unseasonably mild weather without snow, Mother is nonetheless on it now, with freezing temps arriving just in time for C & C Surf Factory and special guests Mayhemingways on Friday, December 18th.
Regardless of what it’s doing on the outside, inside it’s going to be lick-flame hot with a side order of surf in the venerable turf that is the Red Dog. The heat comes courtesy of guitar heroes Colin Cripps (Blue Rodeo, Junkhouse, Kathleen Edwards, Crash Vegas) and “Champagne” James Robertson (Lindi Ortega, New Country Rehab).
The two aces of the axe have found a way to fuse the surf style of the ’60s, with all its wet reverb, Telecasters and Fender amps, with the grit and spit of straight-ahead rock — creating their own genre in the process. Their debut album, Garage City, was released to wide acclaim in April, and C & C Surf Factory and their scrappy brand of surf rock has quickly become a hot ticket in Toronto’s best music hangs.
Peterborough music lovers who value tight instrumentals and impeccable pedigree are in for a real treat Friday night.
“The show at the Red Dog will be an ensemble of musicians who know how to play well,” says guitarist and co-founder Cripps, who adds he and “Champagne” Robertson will be joined by a killer band primed “to get you worked up and have a good time.”
“We will be loud, aggressive, and full of twang,” promises Cripps.
Why update a timeless genre like surf and fuse it with rock? Hey Duane Eddy, because it’s 2015, that’s why.
Cripps is a big part of this, with a resume that goes back to 1988 when he played guitar with Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor as a member of Crash Vegas, a band Keelor had formed with then-girlfriend Michelle McAdorey. Keelor had already formed Blue Rodeo with high school buddy Jim Cuddy three years before.
Over the years, playing and producing as he has with a wide variety of artists, Cripps has never been far from Blue Rodeo, playing as a guest on their 1997 album Tremolo and — the year prior — beginning work with Cuddy on the first of what would be three solo albums. Cripps has worked on all three, and in 2013 joined Blue Rodeo as a full-time member.
“It honestly seemed so natural for me to become a member of Blue Rodeo when they asked me, as our friendship and musical relationship has been so long,” he says.
“Fire on the Dance Floor” – C & C Surf Factory
The surf rock fusion that is the stuff of C & C Surf Factory is borne from the versatility of founding members Robertson and Cripps, the latter naming Ramona Falls, Efterclang, Leon Bridges, Future Islands, Jane’s Party, Bahamas, and Frazey Ford as people he’s throwing onto the earbuds these days.
“My influences have come from every genre and era, both obscure and popular,” Cripps explains. “To list it would be a very long answer.”
Whatever those influences are, for both Cripps and Robertson it’s quickly apparent the two men virtually disappear into their instruments when it comes time to perform.
Cripps — who prefers playing as part of an ensemble — says “the guitar and the song decides who I am going to be. Some nights [the guitar] is the shy shadow man, others it wants to step out and be in the spotlight and [it] takes me with it.”
There won’t be anything shy about Friday. Attendees at the Historic Red Dog will be treated not only to a stellar band churning out edgy surf rock, but to the subtle theatrics that emerge when a true player is in complete sync, and communication with his instrument. This is especially true for Robertson, whose playing appears effortless, even reflexive.
For both Robertson and Cripps, it is true that the joy for the audience will be not only hearing them play, but witnessing their art. This will be a show that will have people talking for a very long time.
Opening the show are Peterborough’s own Mayhemingways, with their trademark blend of Fuzzfolk, Cajun and Bluegrass.
Get there early. And even though it’s going to be cold on the outside, you’re gonna want to dress for heat …