Tuesday Night Hustle - Brickhouse Brings the Party to The Shovel

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
June 18th, 2009

“I’m on the twelfth floor of a building in the west end and I’m looking down at a pool. There are two chicks and a baby in that pool and I want to be down there.” Replacing hello with a twitter-esque up to the second status report Robbie Bracken, lead singer of the Vancouver based band Brickhouse, answered my call this week.

As Vancouver’s “Hardest working band” I possibly should have known better than to call a few minutes before noon to the lead singer of a full time party band. While we made small talk, Bracken expressed some confusion about whether he had been to Rossland before or not. Ar first he thought yes, but no that was Revelstoke, and then yes if we were near Big White. We decided ultimately that this June 23rd will be Brickhouse’s first trip to and show in Rossland (at the Flying Steamshovel).

Regulars in the Vancouver blues scene, Brickhouse is the house band at The Yale. With a couple of albums behind them, they are a heavy touring band that claims the title of hardest working band in Vancouver.

“We don’t know what kind of music we play,” said Bracken of the six piece ensemble, which is made up of harmonicas, bass guitar drums, saxophone, guitars, keyboards and four voices. “We deal a lot in the blues but more funky. It’s like blues funk. Does that make any sense? That’s the term we throw around just because we have no idea.”

Winners of the 2004 Best Canadian Live Band/All Genre by Real Blues Magazine the band plays across all genres with the common belief that what’s good for the party is what we’re going to play. “Our set consists of probably 80% original music; we throw in a couple of blues covers folk covers and actually a little bluegrass in there too. Every night is totally different. We just play off the crowd.”

With all six members of the group full time professional musicians the band whose personal mantra is to bring back live music haven’t recorded an album since their last 2.5 years ago. “When you only have two days a week off from playing music the last thing you want to do is get together and play more music,” described Bracken of what keeps them from being able to write and record new music. “This trip will be a situation where we have to be together, we’ll have to entertain each other and we’ll be contained so I have a feeling that we’re going to write some serious music on this trip.”

As he rummaged around his apartment looking for his phone charger Bracken related the story of the road trip that will be coming through Rossland next week. Sounding like the maestro of an elaborate plan with the mission of masterminding scenes in which the band will be forced out of its comfort zone and into a positive mind frame to write new music, he filled me in on the plans.

“I’ll tell you a short story. My dad just got a new Cadillac and he gave me his old one. So we’re going to roll in in a Cadillac. We got a minivan to take the gear and the rest of us are going in the Caddy and we’re going to go across the country and it’s going to be awesome.”

If you can imagine the sound of a smile–that was the vibe coming across in Rob’s voice as he spoke. Twelve years into the party band experiment known as Brickhouse, the upcoming road trip has the makings of a career highlight.

“We were down in New York and we were Bo Diddley’s band for a night,” reminisced Bracken about one of the coolest nights of his musical life. “He came through town and he needed a band so he said, “You guys want to do it?” and we said sure. So we were his band and we played at a show for about 1,000 people or so. It was really awesome.”

As the fourth stop on the “Summer Solstice” tour, expect a new tune or two when Brickhouse hits Rossland. If you haven’t heard Brickhouse before than they’re all new songs to, but Bracken says to look out for one track in particular that is his favourite song currently. So new the name has yet to fully stick. Either that or it truly was time to head down to the pool below. Ahh, the life of a Canadian musician.

“Well at the moment my favourite song is probably… Jenelle no sorry not Jenelle it’s Look out for Jenelle…Jenelle Jenelle? No, just Jenelle I guess. When you hear it you’ll say, “Okay, now I get it”. It’s this kind of freaked out punk ska… I don’t know but it’s a hustle.”

To get your mid-week hustle on with Bracken and friends, stop by the Shovel Tuesday, June 23rd for a six pack of blues funk goodness.

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