THE SNAKE OIL SALESMEN
The Snake Oil Salesmen have released their debut full length album Take Your Time.
The 10 song album features original songs by Shane Bellegarde (guitar/vocals), Danny Blondeau (lead guitar/vocals), and Sterling Brass (bass guitar), and was produced by fellow Regina artist Val Halla, who also played drums on the album. The songs dance between the lines of country, roots, and rock, but are all firmly grounded in the distinct art of storytelling the Snake Oil Salesmen have become known for. From the groove rock single “I’m Tired”, to the old school cowboy themes of “Good Old Boys”, the album presents 10 complete thoughts for the restless outlaw in us all.
Shane Bellegarde, who wrote the majority of the tracks on Take Your Time had a previous stint as Tour Manager for Canadian indie rocker’s Stabilo, and the influence of his time on the road traveling the Canadian highways can be heard in his lyrics of contemplated loneliness & quiet perseverance. After the tragic passing of his younger brother Joseph, Shane penned the tribute song “First of December” in his honour, and a chorus of voices including his two other brothers Cameron & Mike, as well as his bandmates, turned the outlaw style ode into a celebratory tribute to Joseph’s life. There’s no shortage of up tempo roots-rock songs, telling stories about everything from the very day that Shane was born (“Helen”), to the always interesting but sometimes unruly customers he used to serve during his time as a bartender (“Take Your Time”). Tracks like “You Are My Home” and “Be Okay” explore a more vulnerable side, where the heart strings are pulled –as are the guitar strings, like on the song that doubles as a love letter written to his guitar, “Fingers Bleed”.
Danny Blondeau’s lead guitar licks compliment the album nicely with riffy accents and memorable grooves throughout. The song “Good Old Boys” was his original composition and a great moment on the album. An anthem for everyone who still believes in honesty, hard work, and the integrity of “a look in the eye, and a sturdy handshake”, Danny captures the mood and the pride of what life on the Saskatchewan prairies means to him, at a time when some may agree with his opinion that “there ain’t too many good old boys these days”.
Sterling Brass holds a solid and somewhat “mean” groove down on the bass throughout the entire album, where he shared a knowing connection and language with Val Halla on the drums. Both members of the rhythm section tracked their parts together in the same room at the same time, to maintain that special connection they share in the foundation of the songs. Both Sterling and Val have strong backgrounds in Rock N Roll and heavy music, and when those influences were coupled with the country and roots sounds of the guitars & vocals, a unique hybrid of old meets new, roots meets rock, came into play. The Snake Oil Salesmen have become the official spokesmen for “storytelling with an attitude”.
Val Halla was born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan – the heartland of the Canadian prairies, to a Hot Air Balloon pilot, fiddle playing father, and a motorcycle riding, visual artist mother. The cold harsh winters, coupled with humble prairie life, led Val to develop a wild imagination and a deep love of music. At the age of 5 she was playing the piano and wrote her first song. By the time she was 11, Val had just started learning songs of the 90’s grunge movement, playing on an old nylon string classical guitar her grandfather had given to her mother. After a few years of lessons focusing on grunge and rock n roll, Val’s guitar teacher was finally able to persuade her parents to buy her an electric guitar. “All I was playing was Nirvana and Classic Rock.” says Halla, now 27. “My guitar teacher saw how I was struggling with this thick fretboard on the nylon string with my tiny hands, trying to play Aneurysm, and just couldn’t stand to watch it anymore.”
Thanks to Halla’s childhood guitar teacher, she soon discovered the joys of overdriven guitar tones and new sonic and technical landscapes she had never before dreamed of. Now an endorsing artist for both Mack Amps and Carparelli Guitars, she has found a unique style and sound all her own, and is making big waves in the guitar and music communities alike. Last summer, Val was asked to be the opening act on Ted Nugent’s Trample the Weak Hurdle the Dead tour. Val Halla played 41 shows all across America with the Motor City Madman, and has performed to just under 100,000 people in 2010 alone. In 2011 Val Halla has continued to tour non-stop at an unrelenting pace. Accompanied by the backing band of Saskatchewan duo Tristan Helgason and Liam Bryant, whose own two-piece thrash rock band Molten Lava has garnered attention and praise in Canada, Val Halla became a 3 piece force to be reckoned with.