. : : December 4th, 2020 : : .
I’m not going to preface this particular entry with too much context on COVID-19, 2020, and live music. I ranted and raved about it in excess on my previous post.
I will take a minute to talk about Whitehorse, a band many visitors to this blog are now well acquainted with, and give some context on their 2020 (if you would be so kind as to indulge me).
Whitehorse is a husband and wife musical duo with decades long resumes that cover the gauntlet and have taken them around the world. Their talent is immeasurable, and their success remarkable — but not incalculable.
They are one of the best of the recent countless examples of Canadian success stories that just don’t seem to export well. They’re on radio, they’re in car commercials, they play festivals and headlining shows from border to border, but like many-a Northern band, just can’t break through to the US market that all but guarantees world-wide acclaim and the endless residuals that come with it.
That is to say, they have a house in Toronto. They have a family. Presumably, they have car payments and mortgages, and utilities expenses, etc., and they do well enough that they can enjoy these things. But they are not living in multi-million dollar mansions along the Bridal Path, sipping champagne from the back seats of their limos as they cruise around the city for something to do.
They are the upper working class of Canadian Musicianship, but working class nevertheless.
So, it’s worth nothing that during the early days of the pandemic, amidst the lockdowns and restrictions, the couple took to social media to perform free, weekly, hour-long concerts. Have a Facebook or Instagram account? You already had your ticket.
And yeah, OK. In the second half of the 10 or so performances, they would occasionally remind viewers that they were accepting tips — but the message was clear: this was in response to fans’ requests to be able to do so. The band only wanted to give its fans some light at the end of some very dark tunnels at the close of every week.
Old favourites, deep cuts, solo material, fly-on-wall-as-it’s-being-written new tunes, nothing was off the table.
They could’ve charged, like many of their peers were doing. They probably could’ve done pretty well doing so, at that. But week after week, the Whitehorse Happy Hour was free.
Then, the band went off to record a new album in the studio.
When they came back, it was the early days of December. No longer were they performing in the living room of their home; now they were on a makeshift stage in the downtown Toronto headquarters of label Six Shooter Records. No longer were they using their cell phones to record video; they had a professional cameras and microphones set up. So, it was rational that this one cost a couple of bucks. Fitting into the Christmas theme, this one was a reasonable $12, and the improvement to the audio and video feeds established it as a worth-while investment for fans.
The setlist had many of the Whitehorse perennials you’d expect, with a dash of holiday tunes to promote another, second performance a couple of weeks later that was to focus more on the band’s Christmas songs. Unfortunately, I missed the latter, but I was online for the former.
While it looks like the weekly Happy Hour concerts are a thing of the past, the band is still staying active in social media and on its Patreon page, as it gears up for an accelerated release schedule of 3-albums(!!) worth of freshly recorded material.
In the meantime, you can grab this show and listen to a solid, great sounding performance (only marred by the annoying canned clapping inserted by the sound person between three or so of the songs), and check out video of their Friday Happy Hour performances on YouTube.
02. Devil’s Got A Gun
04. The One I Hurt
06. Sweet Disaster
07. Emerald Isle
09. Merry X-Mas (I Hope You Get What You Deserve)
11. December’s Children
13. Baby What’s Wrong
15. Tame as the Wild Ones
17. Mismatched Eyes (Boat Song)
20. 2000 Miles [the Pretenders]
22. Blue Christmas [Hayes/Johnson]