Don Danger Jon goes Ho-Tonkin’ with the Ball Gag n’ Chain Gang

Ballgag_n_Chain_Gang

Ball Gag n’ Chain Gang is: The Good Dr. Jeevus Craik: Guitar, Vocals, Didj, Bone, and Jaw Harp; Fat Jesus: Banjo, Vocals, Trumpet, Harp and Fiddle; Texas T-Bag: Lap Steels, Mandolin, and Lead Guitar; Little Buddy: Drums, and Vocals; The Dutch Dangler: Bass

As a narcissist I rarely talk about a band other than my own (Swamp Music Players) but sometimes I can’t help but tip my hat to someone on top of their game.  A prime example of that someone is the Ball Gag n’ Chain Gang founded in 2006 in Victoria, Canada. They can be described as a Ho-Tonk (from the band bio on ReverbNation: “…Ho-Tonk is both a unique style of music and an outlook on life that combines many classic styles with a comedic, avante-garde twist…”) band and at its core,  I hear hillbilly roots and old rock ’n’ roll. You may even taste some Latin seasoning and Punk Rock gristle in the varied and fun songs they serve up. They can really get a crowd dancing – that is for sure!

BGnCG live shows really started to set them apart as they played scores of bars and started to play festivals. They have a dozen or more instruments during a set for the five members and lots of variation and general onstage mischief going on.  Maybe people never took them too seriously at first due to their sense of humor and for being different. They started out as an orchestra for a theatrical production of the Fringe Festival, and those kinds of productions are notorious for being well…on the fringe.  You can pretty much imagine that being the house band for a play about a dominatrix visiting a taxidermist means they were kinda out there from day one! Now, years later, the local scene gets it and BGnCG is considered to be one of the better bands to come out of Vancouver Island.

The band has many good songs but I will pick out a few examples that I haven’t seen commercial reviewers pick up on:

  • Boomerang Alley is an unpredictable track with that HillBilly/Rockabilly/Dancehall vibe BGnCG is known for. Based on some true grim Victoria history, the son has lots of energy and the lead vocalist, The Good Doctor Steve Craik,  has this grumbly voice that has to be in a weirdly unique band like this.
  • Another song I particularly like is the Florida Keys,  a swampy track from the sticks concerning grisly deaths and creatures from the deep. As the song ramps up, the band displays plenty of high energy musicality –  something you can expect from them.

BGnCG has an album out called Bang on iTunes and Bandcamp  (released in 2011) where i’ts easy enough to sample the tracks.  I think they are really worth checking out and have a sound lots of people in the USA would respond to.  I don’t see why their success should be limited to Western Canada.

-Don Jon

 

About Don Danger Jon

Don Danger Jon is a former intercontinental merchant adventurer and Eastern European art book dealer who tumbled down into the beige hades of office work in his native Canada. A twist or two of fate and he is now rising as a music promoter, lyricist, graphic novel author and occasional onstage Blues hypeman for the band he manages "Swamp Music Players". Formative years in the austere rural enclave of Neebing County gave a young Don Jon a thirst for the world beyond his snowbound confines. With a diet of old Chess records and TV crackling with old American movies by Elwy Yost his only respite. Sleepy Vancouver Island is his home now where he works on promoting deserving artists locally and internationally.From the Eastern bloc to the Victoria open jam down the block Don Jon has seen a few adventures but not as many as enjoyable as the potential of music!

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