Viper Central 'Thumb & Howl' - Self-Release

Old time and bluegrass are the starting points for this Canadian band. They however bring other influences along too. Opening track Saskatchewan adds pedal steel to the acoustic instruments and features prominent fiddle and banjo. It's a song written by Kathleen Nisbet, vocalist, writer and fiddler. Nisbet, mainly, takes the lead on the songs that she has written while Steven Charles takes the lead on his songs as well as playing a mean guitar. They have a strong vocal presence with various of the other songs sung by the other members alongside some self-written instrumentals and a couple of covers including The One I Love Is Gone by Bill Monroe. There are eight players involved with the album to help the five members of Viper Central to thump and howl. That title song again employs Tim Tweedale's pedal steel on a song that pays homage to a now demolished Vancouver venue, a chicken coop, where the music played long into the night and legend has it Loretta Lynn was discovered. Their assembled instrumental skills are highlighted on Tweedale's composition Redwolf and fellow member Mark Vaughan adds his tribute to an English ale on the instrumental Brewer's Gold, a mandolin led-tune. Their Canadian heritage is apparent in the music as well as other more diverse influences. They play a couple of Métis tunes add some touches of Klezmer and a slice of hard country into the mix or good measure. It makes for an uplifting, energetic sound that won't fail to appeal on some level that will have many thumbing and howling along. Another example of the resurgent Canadian roots music scene and it's willingness to bring their music to these shores recorded or in person.