Best of bands 2016: Burmis Tree

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      Sean MacPherson sings and plays guitar with Burmis Tree, a darklands-alt-country unit whose debut album, Blood of the Land, will leave you wondering who the band loves more: Nick Cave, Johnny Cash, the Gun Club, or William Faulkner. The party line is no doubt something diplomatic like “All of them equally.” But get the rest of the band (drummer Jonah Toulmin, bassist Thorsten Abel) and its various hired guns (guitarist-mandolinist Doug Liddle, pedal-steel player Kyle Nunweiler) liquored up on Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey, and at some point someone is guaranteed to start talking.

      Best local release other than yours: I would have to say Shiloh Lindsey’s Bloomfield & Isleville. It has a lot of depth to it and there is no denying that Shiloh is one of the best singers in Vancouver. Also looking forward to Rodney DeCroo’s upcoming album Old Tenement Man. Had the pleasure of hearing a few unreleased tracks and they sound amazing—it’s going to be a great record.

      The year’s best gig: Violent Femmes lived up to my nostalgic ’90s expectations, but the best local show was Shiloh Lindsey’s release party [May 20 at LanaLou’s]. Her set was amazing and her band was better than ever. Rodney DeCroo opened up with the Wise Blood, one of the best songwriters and bands in town—commanding, tight, and intense. It amazes me sometimes what a solid alt-country scene we have in Vancouver.

      Hootsuite’s Ryan Holmes is paying. Where’s dinner? I would insist on keeping it in Mount Pleasant, starting with a coffee at Gene [2404 Main Street], sandwiches at the Federal Store [2601 Quebec Street] (open up already!), soup at Dock Lunch [152 East 11th Avenue], followed by a round of Prairie Fires at Hyde [2960 Main Street].

      We’re road-tripping. Who’s on the stereo? There is no better combination of elements on the planet than big sky, open road, and the Smalls on the stereo. Start out with the white album [The Smalls], followed by To Each a Zone, and maybe throw on some of the later stuff after. For someone who grew up in Alberta and the East Kootenays, the Smalls are essential road music, a sonic vessel of both memory and geography. As the road trip wears on, maybe some more straight-up country, shape-note music, or history podcasts.

      Like that Weeknd song, who makes you feel like you can’t feel your face? Matty Reed, saxman extraordinaire—Prettys, Public Domain, et cetera—has got some serious swagger these days. Stephen Hamm: One Man Band is a strong contender as well—his masculine performance of “Sensitive Man” at Backfest was something quite… Face-numbing.

      You’re a creative type. Where are we opening a venue? There is an old, abandoned jazz club in the basement of my building near Main and Broadway. Douglas-fir dance floor, marble bathrooms, ghosts, and a cast-iron boiler from 1915. My landlords are currently renovating the basement, so who knows? Maybe it’ll open its doors to the public once again. That, or they are just getting ready to renovict us all…