Petunia & The Vipers: Dead Bird On The Highway

By Brian Rock

If you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, Canada’s Petunia & The Vipers have just the thing for you. Their new release, Dead Bird On The Highway, blooms and blossoms with inventive musical combinations on every song. A jazzier version of Southern Culture on the Skids, Petunia & The Vipers combine Western Swing, Rockabilly, Jazz, Surf Rock, Alt Rock and even some Salsa to create a one of a kind sound. The result comes across as Western Swing on steroids (and occasionally hallucinogens).

DeadBirdHighway“Blue Yodel Blues” leads off with a Mardi Gras horn blast that soon gives way to pure Western Swing as Petunia (aka Ron Fortugno) sings and yodels his way through a tale of riding the rails to stay one step ahead of his sorrows. Never content to stick with one genre per song, the band seasons their songs with a variety of musical spices. From the prohibition era jazz on “Oh What A Wonderful Time,” to the 50’s R&B rhythm section of “My Heart Cries Out,” to the “Rubber Biscuit” vocal stylings on “Lou Lou,” Petunia & The Vipers reinvent Western Swing. It’s like Bob Wells rides again – on a psychedelic toad!

But what really makes this band off-the-charts radical, is lead singer, Petunia’s voice. I’m not sure any comparison can actually do justice, but if you can imagine Cherry Poppin’ Daddies lead singer, Steve Perry with a bit of David Byrne, a twist of Tom Waits and just a pinch of Smee (of Peter Pan fame) then you might come close.

Still not far enough out there for you? Well, how about Petunia singing in Swahili on the surf rocking, “Asaw Fofor?”

Need something more esoteric? How about a horn section stolen from Herb Albert paired with Hawaiian guitar on “Try To Enjoy Yourself/Come On Baby?”

In short, Petunia & The Vipers is like nothing you’ve ever heard. And that’s music to my ears.  |  fb  |  buy

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