The Backyard Devils

Mr. Sackvillain and I had the great pleasure to attend a fabulous concert at the Vogue Cinema on Thursday with some like-minded music-loving friends. Great company, and great music (and a beer or glass of wine) – what more could we ask for??

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First, a little about the venue –

‘The Vogue’ was built in Art Deco style by M.E. Walker in 1946, reclaiming what had been reduced to a vacant lot after the Great Sackville Conflagration of 1912 destroyed most of downtown. It remains an operational movie theatre to this day.

(photo: Vogue Cinema)

The cinema has a single screen, and can seat almost 280 people. There is also a stage at the front of the theatre, which is used for live bands throughout the year (including Sappyfest in August, and the Bordertown Festival, which is taking place May 4-7, 2017).

In order to remain viable, owner Jeff Coates, who bought the theatre in 2006, has made a few concessions to modernity over the years, installing a new sound system in 2011, and converting to digital projection in 2012. A few updates are still needed, including a new roof, but overall, the forties’ funkiness remains intact.

And so, the Backyard Devils came to play on Thursday, May 4. We were super excited to see the band again, having seen them in Moncton on Canada Day in 2015. They are a local band (with members from Moncton and Memramcook, plus a smiley Bluenoser from Meteghan, NS), and play a mix of dirty country, rockabilly, and bluegrass. Definitely clap-your-hands, stomp-your-feet, get-up-and-dance awesomeness!

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As is (sadly) too often the case with local bands, the Devils are better known outside of Canada then at home, as evidenced by the sparse (but enthusiastic!) crowd on Thursday night. This summer they are scheduled to play on the main stage of a large music festival in France, and have previously toured in the UK and across Europe.

The band played a rousing two sets on Thursday night, and then came back for an encore, to the delight of the audience. They did an excellent rendition of the Fred Eaglesmith tune, I Shot Your Dog, as well as many selections from their two albums, the first, self-titled (2011), and then HonkyTonk Heartbreaker (2014). Crowd favourites included Cowboy, which was written for Erik and Remi’s dad, a retired civil servant; For My Lord; HonkyTonk Heartbreaker; and (one of my favourites) How Mountain Girls Can Love.

The members of the Backyard Devils are: lead/vocals Erik Arsenault; his brother (who plays a mean stand-up bass and adds his voice to vocals) Remi; guitar player Chris Belliveau; and mandolin/fiddle/banjo virtuoso, Dillon Robicheau. In 2011, they were awarded three Music New Brunswick Awards – Emerging Artist, Country Album of the Year, and Group Recording of the Year, and have been well on their way since then.

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For more information about where the guys will be, and when, get in touch with them on Facebook. I can guarantee you won’t be sorry!!

(concert photos courtesy of Mr. Sackvillain)

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