Handsome Ned is long gone, but the rebellious spirit of his music lives on in the raucous sound of the electro-billies, cowpunks and alt-country hooligans who follow in his rule-breaking path.
Since synth-friendly upstart Slim Twig is actually Handsome Ned’s nephew, the guitar-slinging actor/musician comes by his rollicking Nedness naturally. With an album due soon from his side project the Tropics and critical praise pouring in for his role opposite Ellen Page in Bruce McDonald’s The Tracey Fragments, the Twigster is about to break big.
Troy Sinister & the Trailerpark Ghouls
Best known as the snarling frontman of local garage rockers the Sinisters, Troy Sinister has always had a soft spot for all things twangy. And now his weirdest psychobilly nightmares are coming true with the righteously reckless Trailerpark Ghouls.
Among the bigger surprises at last year’s Night Of The Living Ned 2 tribute concert was the bittersweet rendition of the Handsome one’s Steel Rail Blue, delivered by Emily Weedon with the perfect balance of hope and heartbreak. Watch out for this gal.
While some young artists will say they’ve been fans of Handsome Ned their whole life, the Ferraros’ mom – Cameron House co-founder Anne Marie Ferraro – can actually back up their rockin’ sons’ claim that they’ve been listening to Ned since birth. As close to the sons of Ned as you’re ever gonna get.
Heather Morgan & the Company of Men
Fiddlin’ songbird Heather Morgan has crossed back and forth between roots rock, folk, bluegrass and jazz, but the brassy balladeer proved at the Night Of The Living Ned 2 tribute she could hold her own in any country honky-tonk, especially now that she’s backed by her stacked Company of Men support group.
Of all the groups mentioned here, Moncton’s Divorcees come closest to the shit-kickin’ outlaw spirit of Handsome Ned. That’s probably because these brew-hoisting roughnecks were raised on the same combination of rebel rock, hayseed twang and barroom brawling.
Back in the mid-90s, Winnipeg’s Jason AlIen and Rob Zaporzan used to rock out in the Chocolate Bunnies from Hell, but everything changed the night a Joe Ely tape got slammed in the car stereo. After hearing Handsome Ned some years later, it was goodbye hair gel and hello hangovers.
Five Star Homeless
These trucker-lovin’ Saskatoon country cut-ups might sound like they have more in common with Reverend Horton Heat or Scroat Belly, but Matt Griffith and his Five Star Homeless boys have been spreading the the gospel according to Ned across the prairie provinces for seven years. And they’re still no closer to having a roof over their heads.
Sons Of Handsome Ned
Slim Twig, the Ferraros, Nick Masyk and special guests at the Cameron House (408 Queen West), Saturday (January 12), 6-9 pm. Free. 416-703-0811. www.linkhorn.com.