There are at least 50 shades of music style in Hewson Grey, maybe more.
The Edmonton band is making its first trip into Prince George and can't wait to introduce some new fans to their brand of modern folk-rock blend. They get frequent comparisons to Blue Rodeo, Wilco, some have suggested there is a touch of Sheepdogs and a smidge of Pink Floyd to their sound. It's good ol' Canadian gravel rock, which is a colourful genre with roots spread wide across the spectrum of sound - just the way frontman Joe Paonessa likes it.
"I don't want to see country music for an hour and a half; I don't want to see pop music for an hour and a half. I love going to different areas, feeling a flow, when I watch a concert. That's what we like to bring," he said.
The band is named for this concept. Hewson is the real-life last name of U2 frontman Bono, a superstar for his dexterity on stage, moving between punk and folk, funk and rock, even spoken word poetry in his delivery. The grey was added because Paonessa went through an introspective streak, a melancholy period in his songwriting and his sister dubbed the material "grey" because it was cerebral and a dark/light blend. The term stuck.
This is no slow dance kind of concert, though.
"The live show is energetic," said Paonessa. "We leave a lot of room for jamming and space for spontaneous things to happen. We always want the audience to feel they are getting a show that is unique and just for them, and that's the truth."
The band consists of Paonessa on guitar and vocals, Stuart Bobbin also handling guitar and vocal duties, Caleb Bradley on bass and Ryan Crampton on drums/percussion. They don't confine the live performance of each song to the exact mould of the recordings, and they love to tailor the atmosphere of each concert to the mood projected by the audience.
"Prior to this band I did some singer-songwriter stuff on my own and it was the complete opposite, but taught me that lesson. It was quiet stuff, you could hear a pin drop in the room, but you still feel that power between the audience and the musician. You can look out and see the lyric or the melody landing and resonating with people. So when the energy is really high, and big music expressions coming from a band, and that hits the audience, you can really get it pushed back to you from the people in the room, and it becomes this shared experience. Everyone in the room is involved in how the songs are coming out."
The band spent a busy summer doing their own concerts and as part of festivals. At the end of the season they gathered their forces and released an EP (it's called Montes et Mare) and a very limited edition pressing of a 7-inch white vinyl single, each one numbered by hand like an artists' painting or photo print, for the song Dancing In The Rain.
"It'll be the unofficial - and I guess we can just go ahead and make it official - EP release party for B.C. We will hopefully be able to send lots of people home with some Hewson Grey stuff, if they like it," Paonessa said. "I've never been there, I'm excited. I have lots of family and friends up in Prince George, they've been asking us to come playing a show, so here we come."
Hewson Grey hits the stage Saturday at Nancy O's downtown. Showtime is 9 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door.