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It’s been two years since Petunia released Inside Of You, which placed him in the spotlight with the headline question from The Bluegrass Situation, “Is a Man Named Petunia The Savior of Country Music?” Living up to that lofty title is a challenge taken seriously, but with the timely release of the brand new album Free As The Wind, Petunia shows the world in simple terms just exactly who he is; an artist, an entertainer, and a living example of some of the most glorious aspects of the past.
A mostly acoustic album, Free As The Wind was recorded off the floor with Calgary-based guitarist Nathan Godfrey, whom Petunia originally met through an interview booked on Nathan’s campus radio show during the release of the 2012 Petunia & The Vipers album. The two hit it off musically, and started touring together throughout Canada and the UK, before pressing record on both the album and a few music videos.
Free As The Wind is an acoustic showcase of Petunia’s pure, crooning vocals and ferocious screams, in English, French and Spanish, alongside Nathan’s mesmerizing finger-picking guitar style. Bursting forth with the unforgettable bilingual tune “Lou Lou,” Petunia’s signature kazoo and fast-talking style hook you in, and land you comfortably in an acoustic version of well known Petunia & the Vipers hit, “The Cricket Song,” complete with yodeling. “Death Himself” prickles the hairs on the back of your neck, “Petunia, Where’d Ya Get That Name” lays all speculation to rest (finally), and “Bloom Bloom Bloom” is a musical interpretation of a poem from one of Petunia’s favorite Canadian poets and tour mates, The Minimalist Jugband. “California Blues” reminds us the basis of Petunia’s music is pure old time country, while “Dos Gardenias” brings a Mariachi flavor and “Loved in Vain” dances around the flamenco. Every track has a particular flavor and emotion, but the culmination of it all is a journey through classic country sounds, delivered in a way only Petunia can.
“He is a total one off, with it being almost impossible to compare him to anyone else…”
American Roots UK
Imagine that David Lynch and Nick Cave had a hillbilly baby, that yodeled…or Tom Waits meets Elvis at Woody Guthrie’s hobo junction. This is just one way of describing the man known simply as Petunia. He’s an adventure seeker, a poker player, and a mysterious stranger. He’s been referred to as “The Savior of Country Music,” and a man who exists in a different era, bringing the past forth as something new to be celebrated and not forgotten.
Though he grew up in idyllic, rural Quebec, as an adult Petunia set out on the road, playing every major street corner across Canada and throughout the NYC subway system, before becoming a full fledged touring musician. He’s released no less than 10 recordings, with the more recent Petunia & the Vipers (2012) and Inside of You (2014) making major waves among critics and fans. When he’s not on the road playing concert or festival stages across North America and Europe, Petunia is also involved in the theatre world; writing scores, acting, and collaborating with theatre artists. He resides in Vancouver BC, and works with several sets of sidemen globally in addition to the Vancouver-based Vipers. A restless wanderer, a musical historian, and a quirky yet amazing talent, Petunia is simply a Canadian treasure joining the greats from north of the 49th.
“Petunia and the mother****ing Vipers. One of the best bands in the world today, of any kind”
“That’s not a band. It’s another world.”
Jonathan Byrd, artist
“Petunia & The Vipers are one of these creative generators and innovators, and their music and moxy can be found defining the cutting edge of what is considered creative in country and roots today, while still keeping alive what made country music great in the past.”
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