Oddballs take to the tracks

Starting May 26, self-described “rock-a-hillbilly yodelling country blues” musician Petunia will be taking his songs—think Jimmie Rodgers as interpreted by David Lynch—across Canada by train, along with frequent collaborator Al Mader (aka the Minimalist Jug Band). They’ll be performing two 45-minute sets a day on VIA Rail throughout June and July, with a second leg scheduled in the fall—provided Mader’s penchant for emotionally uncomfortable material (in songs like “I’m a Lousy Lay”) doesn’t provoke the passengers too much.

“We’re going to have to pick our audience,” Petunia admitted to the Straight. “To me, Al’s a fairly everyday person, but maybe for people on the train he’s a little dark. And even just the look of him, people think, ”˜Wow, that guy’s a weirdo!’ I don’t, but maybe I’m not an everyday person. I guess I’m talking about suburbans. Do suburbans take the train?”

It’s the seventh time Petunia and Mader have toured across Canada together, though the first by rail. The journey will be documented by videographer/musician J. P. Morin. You can catch Petunia at the Café Montmartre on May 9, with Mader on washtub bass, Fiona Salon on theremin, Bronwen Jones on singing saw, and Marc L’Esperance on fiddle. Due to his ambitious tour schedule, it will be Petunia’s last Montmartre gig for the time being.