I first saw Rosie & the Riveters at the Winnipeg Folk Festival this summer. They looked interesting in the WFF schedule book. Their live show was quite entertaining. They even threw in a commercial.
Now I’m not a huge fan of commercials (they are one reason why I’ve avoided TV for the last 20- something years). Okay I admit that I have gone to the WAG’s Cannes World’s Greatest Commercials here and there. And I’m sorry to you folks who think that without commercials the stations wouldn’t be able to give us ‘quality’ programming. I think that’s a bunch of crap. Oops, a bit of a rant there, sorry.
Where was I, oh yeah, Rosie and the Riveters. They had a commercial break at the WFF and they also had one at the Park Theatre last night. They were promoting their products (actually merchandise is a better word I think).
Among the merch they had were home-made soaps, salves, CD’s, stickers & knickers. As Allyson said, “Maybe we made you laugh so much tonight that you need a new pair (of knickers).” They also had cooking aprons so that, “Even if you don’t know how to cook, you’ll look like you do.”
These Saskatoon ladies are very entertaining and very talented as well. Their four part harmonies are quite pleasing and each one of them has quite the range. They started as a gospel group about five years ago.
I spoke with their agent, Adele Boychuck of Pussy Willow Music, who first saw them performing in a church. She had actually managed Farideh Olsen’s father Byron years earlier when he was in the Crooked Creek Band.
The instrumentation at a Rosie show is sparse. More than half of the songs had acoustic guitar played mostly by Alexis Normand with a few by Farideh. A couple kazoos popped out in the middle of the song “Well Well Well” for a ‘trumpet battle’ between Farideh and Alexis.
A lot of the sounds they used were done with their voices. They kind of reminded me of the Mills Brothers who made brass sounds with their voices.
Alexis played a mean throat bugle during the World War II hit “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B”. Leon Redbone has done similar things. He is known for his ‘Thrombone’ where he makes sounds like a trombone with his throat.
These lovely ladies sure know how to have fun and the audience was having fun as well. We clapped along to a few of the songs. They also added some percussion in the form of foot stomping on a few songs. Especially effective in the song “Travelling Shoes”.
The band taught us a few sitting dance moves before they launched into Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” which they did in the style of a rap song. They were accompanied by beats from a cell phone which didn’t quite stop in time at the end.
After the song Grandma’s Hands, Farideh shared a story about her Grandmother, who at 80 took up creative writing. When Farideh’s mother asked her what it’s like she replied, “It’s not like making love but it’s alright.”
During the song “Ain’t Gonna Bother” they broke a string. They said that that was the first time they’ve ever broken a string. “A real rock’n’roll moment.”
While Alexis restrung the guitar the ladies told a few jokes.
There is a Winnipeg connection to the band as Murray Pulver produced their last CD, Good Clean Fun, here in Winnipeg. The CD was released in Oct. 2015.
They also revealed the secret to where they buy their fabulous dresses (the second most asked question after “who’s Rosie?”) in the song “Red Dress”.
Taylor Rae is filling in for Melissa Nygren on this tour, although Allyson told me it’s not really a tour. They’re just playing a few gigs here and there and a few conferences. Taylor told a story about the benefits of the bumblebee before they played the song “Honey Bee”.
Of course the influence of the Andrews Sisters is seen and heard in their songs but they also played a song by The Boswell Sisters who were a big influence on the Andrews Sisters.
They closed the evening with the traditional tune, “Hand Me Down My Walking Cane” originally written in 1880 by African-American James A. Bland, and recorded by The Boswell Sisters in the 1930’s.
Isn’t that the beauty of music. It’s all fairly derivative of other forms of music. Tom Waits once said something along the lines of everybody borrows bits and pieces from here and there and borrowing is good because it implies that you’re gonna give something back.
The band played two 45 minute sets. During the intermission (and after the show) they came out to the merch table, where they signed CD’s and posters. I picked up their CD, Good Clean Fun, which is quite good. There is a little more instrumentation on the CD like drums, bass, banjo, trumpet and saw.
I must say,though, I enjoy listening to these ladies either live or on CD. The live show is quite a fun thing to experience.
Do yourself a favour and see them live if you get the chance. If not check out their two CD’s.
The group played for Prince Andrew and Princess Sophie in June in Regina and apparently they were well received by the royals.
They’ve also reached #5 in CBC Radio 2’s Top 20 and have been chosen as part of CBC’s Canada Music Challenge, which includes songwriters like Buffy Sainte-Marie, Tragically Hip and Stompin’ Tom Connors.
They’re also nominated for Vocal Group of the Year in the Folk Music Canada Awards this weekend. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for them, I think they deserve this honour.
All photos and videos by Doug Kretchmer
Milk ’n Honey
All I Need
Well Well Well
Keys to the Kingdom
It’s Illegal, It’s Immoral or
It Makes You Fat
A Million Little Things
God’s Gonna Cut You Down
(Johnny Cash Rap)
Watching The Water Rise
Go On Momma
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
of Company B
Down By The Riverside
Ain’t Gonna Bother
Dancing ‘cause of My Joy
Yes It’s True
Hand Me Down My Walking Cane
Rosie & the Riveters Youtube video links:
1. Rosie & the Riveters commercials Winnipeg 11.29.16
2. Rosie & the Riveters teach dance moves in Winnipeg, MB 11.29.16
3. Rosie & the Riveters- Yes It’s True live in Winnipeg, MB 11.29.16
4. Rosie & the Riveters Hand Me Down My Walking Cane live in Winnipeg, MB 11.29.16