Every once in awhile, you come across an opening act you’ve never seen or heard of, but catches you off-guard at just how great they are…this was one such band I had the pleasure of seeing earlier in the spring of 2014. Great musicianship, well-written originals, and the energetic antics of super front man/vocalist, Warren Meredith, make up this group called, Ginger Fox Band, who have just released their first recorded effort entitled, Won’t Change, a 6-song digital EP of all original material.
The Ginger Fox Band, aptly named after Meredith’s flowing mane of fiery red hair, began to take shape in 2011, when he and rhythm guitarist, Alex Spearman, decided to build a band around themselves in order to try out for LiVE 88.5 FM’s Big Money Shot that year. Over time and a few band member changes, the current configuration came to include powerhouse drummer, Derek Van Dusen, and lead guitarist, Ryan Wheatley, who displayed an unabashed flair for the classic rock sound.
Sound engineer and teacher, Kevin Komaranski, who showed interest in the band’s material, stepped in as their new bass player and has become an integral part of their recording production. Songwriting is developed through shared riffs, hooks, and rhythms by all, and completed with Meredith’s vocal melodies and lyrics. The result is ultimately blues-based, soul-infused rock, with a hint of psychedelic overtones, and strong flavours of Led Zeppelin, The Black Crowes, and other blues-based classic rock heavyweights.
Recording sessions were held inside a 200-year old barn outside the city limits. Although in a dilapidated state, and plagued by problems such as encounters with beehives and assorted vermin, they could be as loud as they desired, and over the course of the last couple of years, have added many colourful tales of the experience. An old dishevelled stuffed deer head found onsite, became the band’s mascot, which they have named, Bruce. Between Komaranski, some of the other band members, and supporters who have stepped in to help, the band drummed up enough gear to turn this rotting structure into a more-than-serviceable recording studio.
There is something about the blues, and heart and soul of the classic rock era that stimulated Meredith to be a singer in the first place. In carving out his own style he managed to attract other like-minded musicians, who shared the same vision. Friday night at Ottawa’s Rainbow Bistro, the Ginger Fox Band showed the audience the fruits of their influence and creativity with an hour long set of songs from their new EP, along with a couple of newer unrecorded pieces, as well as a few covers. Three of Ottawa’s rising bands, Tribe Royal, Onionface, and Hello Hello, kicked off the evening, where each played a set of their own original material.
When it came time for the Ginger Fox Band to take the stage, their first song, “Debt Collector,” stirred immediate reaction right out of the gate, with its rocky blues format and energetic rhythm. I loved Spearman’s solid crunchy rhythm guitar, layered with some nice lead work by Wheatley, and the raunchy blues tones of Meredith’s voice that seared throughout.
Another track from the EP, entitled, “Believe”, was a slower paced number with a great Tom Petty groove, full of catchy blues licks and fantastic rhythm work by Van Dusen. “Won’t Change”, a song written in personal reflection of life and death, had a distinct Pink Floyd quality. I enjoyed its psychedelic swagger, built around the core of Komaranski’s bass riff.
“Before I Die,” a power chord-heavy piece, had the unmistakeable flavours of Physical Graffiti goodness. “Peacemaker”, a song about the insanity of violence in the world, reverberated in blues, went from hard to soft textures, and was peppered with more of Wheatley‘s bells and whistles on lead fills. Meredith’s Joplinesque vocals in this powerfully emotional piece were mesmorizing, as he writhed about on the stage, his free arm extended to the sky…hands down, my favourite tune of the night.
The final song from the EP, “Meet The Devil”, had such a catchy groove, it was impossible to stay still. Great driving licks, and a flowing rhythm that broke into a double-timed chorus, made this one a definite dance favourite.
The cover material was a great selection that displayed the band’s musicality and creativity. “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Black Dog”, “Foxy Lady”, and especially, “Born On The Bayou”, were pumped up and infused with the band’s unique style, energy, and tightness. The show went on into the wee hours of the morning, with the crowd going strong right to the very end. The Ginger Fox Band is truly a great young band, with an even greater following, a solid passion in their playing, talent galore, musical chemistry that just works, and a solid future to look forward to.
The Ginger Fox Band’s, Won’t Change digital EP is $5 and available for download here. A hard copy of their EP will be released in the spring of 2015.
Over the last 20 years, Terry’s vast creativity in the music world has undergone a steady surge of growth, branching out to new facets, and acquiring new connections along the way. She has turned her love of music into the powerful tool by which she voices not just her own passions in life, but showcases the passions of others as well.