A new year rings in and along with it are a host of changes inside the Canadian country music scene.
The biggest news, but not so surprising in hindsight, is that The Blue Shadows as we’ve known the band is, as the saying goes, done like dinner.
The Vancouver-based group which was extremely popular in this city, played its last Alberta gig New Year’s Even in Calgary at a fundraiser for The Calgary Folk Festival. Outside of a couple of commitments on the lower mainland, it’s on to new things for the quartet.
It was fairly evident when the band was playing in Hamilton at a funky, hole-in-the-wall joint on the wrong side of the tracks in steeltown, that the offstage tension between band members was beginning to cause some grief.
The band, which released two albums for Sony, the first one On the Floor of Heaven being the superior of the two, fell between the cracks as far as radio goes. It was the same old, same old a too many programmers dished out the comment “too country or rock, too rock for country.”
Led by Billy Cowsill and Jeff, whoops I should say Jeffrey Hatcher. The Blue Shadows had the finest ensemble vocals of any group on the country and roots club circuit. Both Hatcher and Cowsill wrote some gems for the two discs that did get enough critical acclaim to garner both Juno and Canadian Country Music Association awards nominations.
As finely turned as the harmonies were, it because very apparent that the group needed a legitimate and hot instrumentalist, as Hatcher’s guitar sound became repetitive and tedious. The show opening instrumental the group inserted into its show this past summer was nothing short of cheesy.
To top it all off, even though better results wouldn’t have stopped the band from fragmenting. The Blue Shadows’ two recent videos, from the Lucky To Me album, were brutal in terms of concept and execution. Sony reps even cringed when talking about them. One wonders how Shadows management ever struck a deal with whatever company was responsible for producing them, one being Don’t Expect A Reply which is still in medium rotation on NCN.
In any case, reliable sources say that Cowsill and Hatcher may continue writing together, and Cowsill will form a new band under the name Billy Cowsill and The Blue Shadows to steer the music toward a hardcore country sound.