Drag Country

Toronto's Jane Waynes offer a real country alternative

THE JANE WAYNES at Holy Joe’s, November 22. Tickets: $5. Attendance: 60. Rating: NNN

by the time the jane waynes ambled onstage Thursday evening, the tiny pseudo-living room of Holy Joe’s had been transformed into a swingin’ Sapphic saloon. Cute cowdykes in 10-gallon hats chatted each other up over pints and got cozy in the crowded, standing-room-only space. The drag-clad duo of Travis and Tucker (aka Lisa Silverman and Catherine Doherty) have rustled up quite the cult following in the year they’ve been performing. They’ve also backed up their double-barrelled vox and guitar act with a talented posse. The new five-piece band includes right-hand man Buck on upright bass, the talented Percy doing dobro duty and handsome horn player Hank.

They’ve got the country-and-western thing down pat, with songs ranging from galloping instrumentals that sound like theme songs for imaginary Sergio Leone flicks to mournful bluegrass ballads.

The old fingerpicked number Red-haired Boy was given a Riotgrrrl make-over to become Pink-haired Girl, and Travis and Tucker had all the womenfolk in the house clapping their hands and stomping their feet with their duelling-banjo-and-mandolin bit.

Their own wistful, sepia-toned down-home tunes sound just as authentic as their covers of classic songs by the likes of Mississippi John Hurt. And there’s a quirky po-mo edge to girls who like girls getting decked out as masculine icons and prayin’ to Jesus, “Lord, won’t you send me a wife?”

The two front(wo)men have great harmonies and great chemistry, riffing off each other and flirting with the audience. But performing is still a bit of a novelty for them, and though shaky nerves can be charming, you need unshakeable cojones to own a stage.

Given a little time to acquire the experience and confidence of more polished performers and these cowpoke crooners’ll blow the roof off their hoedowns.

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