Rattlesnake Shakes play a paint-peeling blend of rocking surf tunes not often heard in the Okanagan.
It is a sound born in California in the 60s, so how is it that three guys from the prairies who have transplanted themselves into the Okanagan end up in the genre?
“That’s actually pretty funny,” said Tom Felwery, bass guitarist for the band that is playing at The Elite in Penticton this Saturday. “People always say Beach Boys when they think of surf music but in fact most surf music is instrumental. As a boy my mom would play Venturers records and years ago I started playing surf in Winnipeg when there wasn’t a lot of people doing it.”
Just as many of the bands who helped create the genre weren’t into surfing, Rattlesnake Shakes can say the same. However, their appearance will send people back to a time just before the Beatles invaded North America. Long sideburns, slicked back hair, rolled cuff blue jeans and the drummer (Kris Leasak) even cruises around in a custom rat rod car.
“He usually keeps it protected in the car hold, but sometimes will break it out on a nice day,” joked Felwery.
Along with guitarist Brian McLennan, the trio have started to cut a niche in the Okanagan with their reverb drenched guitars, knee trembling baselines and voodoo tainted drum beats that not only captivate an unsuspecting audience but transpose them smack dab in the middle of a tropical barreling wave.
“We put on a great show. Chris, our drummer, is very talented when he does get up to sing and Brian has years of experience playing and is incredible. There is a lot of style things we do that are rockabilly and surf. We have these danelectro guitars, which actually are these really cheap guitars that came out of Sears I think. It just really fits the style. It is kind of neat to employ something a little different and they look bizarre,” said Felwery
Expect to hear the timeless music that encapsulated the original surf scene with a few of Rattlesnake Shakes own tunes at when they hit the stage for surf night starting at 8 p.m.
While mostly purists of the genre, meaning Rattlesnake Shakes is mostly instrumental, they do stray to let Leasak take the mic. He formerly played with the Nightstalkers and Knucklehead in Calgary, McLennan played with the Surf Dragons in Kimberley and Felwery did an acoustic blues singer/songwriter gig back in Winnipeg. The three found each other on the internet while looking for similar minded musicians to jam with and formed Rattlesnake Shakes. Since then they have played a number of gigs including a well attended show in Penticton at Voodoos a few weeks ago.
“We expect a pretty good crowd of all ages to come out and dance this weekend,” said Felwery. “That is really the unique thing about us. We can play really loud and fast tunes that appeals to a younger crowd but also older people who want to hear those tunes from the 60s. They tell us it makes their day to hear it and it leaves our audience really open by appealing to wide range.”
Rattlesnake Shakes has been jamming and working on original songs that they hope to record on an EP in the next few months. Felwery said gigs have also been coming more regular as they get into the Okanagan music scene.
Cover for the show is $5 at the door and organizers suggest you wear your Hawaiian shirts and dancing shoes.