Billed as Bands on the Run Tour, Country acts Blackjack Billy, Doc Walker and The Road Hammers arrived in Vernon, BC. ready to do some serious damage to this quiet little town – and so they did! Excitement built as three tour buses (with trailers in tow behind them) meandered their way through town to Kal Tire Place and the crews were seen loading in the massive gear. A few short hours later, doors are open and the fun begins.
Up first, the energetic and highly fun BlackJack Billy warmed up the crowd (literally and figuratively, as the arena’s ice surface was just below the thin plywood temporary flooring). Those on the floor were already dancing by the third song, and even though the crowd was a little sparse at the beginning, the venue filled up fairly quickly; by the middle of BlackJack Billy’s set, most of the paying customers were in attendance and ready to rock.
High energy is the best descriptive of BlackJack Billy – every band member oozing the energy out of themselves to engage the audience as much as possible, including standing on the speakers, shaking hands with fans up front, and making sure the drummer in the back is also in the spotlight. By the time the band’s set was over, we were pumped and ready for Doc Walker’s turn on the big stage.
Doc Walker (Chris Thorsteinson, Dave Wasyliw) toned it down a notch, playing quite a few of their softer songs interspersed with a few rocking favorites. Some people choose to refresh their libations at this point, and many were seen standing at the railing around the top of the venue with beer in hand – where the view was just as good and the sound and light show was actually better than down in front. Doc Walker is that sort of band that is just so easy listening that it brings you to a standstill and makes you be ‘in the moment’. Their set lasted about 45 minutes, and they road tested a few brand new songs on us from their new album – which went over well. Waving good byes they left the stage with huge smiles as we waited for the quick change over and the next /last band.
The Road Hammers were all high octane from start to finish! The drummer’s drum kit had a massive 18 wheeler front end on the front, complete with smoke stacks and coloured smoke pouring out throughout the show. Jason McCoy and Clayton Bellamy’s mic stands were covered in pickup truck tool box metal and the entire ‘set’ suited the name ‘Road Hammers’ to a tee.
We saw The Road Hammers years and years ago and they were ‘ok’ …. they’ve perfected their on stage show as well as increased their personal talent by leaps and bounds! The band is a complete unit – tight and well tuned: Jason McCoy, guitarist/singer Clayton Bellamy, and bassist Chris Byrne have a definite chemistry that really comes across and is just such fun. Looking down onto the floor from the arena’s mezzanine, we spotted no less than 20 couples dancing two step, line dance and country ‘ballroom’ dancing as the band played! Any band that can inspire fans up front to scream and jump up and down, and inspire fans at the back to dance the night away – must be doing something right.
Overall, it was a great night out – songs to sing along with, dance to, hold your girl tight to. Topped off by killer sound system, great crowd that wasn’t squished into a too small space, and all three bands that came out to say ‘hey’ and sign autographs – what more can one ask for!
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