The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer

The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer blues duo plays Steveston

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Shawn Hall and Matthew Rogers are the Harpoonist and the Axe Murder ~also known as HAM

By Matthew Hoekstra – Richmond Review
Published: August 17, 2012 9:00 AM
Updated: August 17, 2012 9:45 AM

Shawn Hall and Matthew Rogers admit their band name might scare some people off. But the duo says they’ve “made their peace with that.”

The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer—or HAM as they’re otherwise known—combine blues and rock ‘n’ roll, and have a live show that’s anything but usual. They swing into Steveston Aug. 17.

 The Vancouver musicians limit their sound to whatever they can play between them—using only their mouths, hands and feet. Hall provides the vocals and blues harp, and Rogers handles the drums and guitar.

 The co-ordination between instruments—and themselves—is a show in itself, and the duo is proud to boast that it takes just minutes to get soaked with sweat.

 Music came to Hall when he was 12, living in Toronto. His grandmother gave him a harmonica and a book: Harmonica for the Musically Hopeless. At the same age, on the other side of the country, Rogers was falling in love with the guitar.

 The pair met in a studio session for a radio jingle advertising the Jamaican Pizza Jerk and decided to embark on a musical project together. A song by Kris Kristofferson referencing the blues harp inspired the “harpoonist” in the band’s name. Rogers, being the guitarist, became “the axe murderer.”

 The band, one of 20 finalists in the Peak Performance Project professional development program hosted by a Vancouver radio station, is now touring in support of their 2011 album Checkered Past. It’s the duo’s third album, addressing classic blues themes of heartbreak, addiction and layoffs.

 The band’s Steveston show is part of the Music at the Cannery summer concert series. The concert, organized by The Beatmerchant record store, begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery. Admission is by donation ($5 suggested); arrive early to get a seat.

 Coming up in the series: Tommy Alto on Aug. 24, and Swell & Swag and the Swagmen on Aug. 31.

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