If The Matadors played and nobody was there to hear it, would it still have ruled?

Cory Hope, Arts and Entertainment Editor  Ω

Three Canadian rockabilly bands played at Pogue Mahone on Wednesday, Oct. 12 giving an outstanding performance to a crowd that barely outnumbered the band members.

“Butch Haller and His Chesterfield Ramblers” were the first to take the stage.

Butch, I was told when I walked into the bar, was the oldest living rockabilly performer still hitting the stage.

Butch Haller is only as old as he feels on the inside, ad it shows in his performance. PHOTO BY CORY HOPE

This turned out to be not entirely true.

Butch himself is actually Joel “Hooch” Parkins, the frontman for

The Matadors, wearing a mask I am close to being ashamed to admit I completely bought into.

Perhaps I just couldn’t see how the lips weren’t moving properly from where I was, or maybe I just really wanted to believe what I was told I would be seeing.

No matter what though, Joel has his act down.

Much like The Matadors (as can be expected when they’re the exact same band) Butch Haller is part stand-up comedy routine and part rockabilly extravaganza.

Where the main difference comes in is the songs they play.

While The Matadors have several albums of original tunes, Butch Haller and His Chesterfield Ramblers have taken over the job of being the cover band that The Matadors started off as in 1995.

Before almost every one of the songs they played, Butch would make the claim that he had originally written it long ago, and that the songs had been stolen from them.  He would then burst into rockabilly-ballad versions of “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club, “Creep” by Radiohead, or Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” to name a few.

The songs are beautifully covered, and entertaining beyond belief to watch.

After Butch Haller it was the Preying Saints’ turn to take the stage.

They are a more straightforward rockabilly act hailing from Edmonton.

Between Paul from The Igniters on vocals and Greg on the upright bass, there is enough energy coming off the stage to appease anyone who might have been missing the standup comedy routine in between songs that Butch had brought to the evening.

And then, of course, there were The Matadors.

Not to be outdone by himself as his opening act Joel came back to the stage wearing only his shoes, sunglasses and boxer shorts; the latter dangling a large fake penis which he proceeded to play with for a good portion of the show.

The Matadors schtick involved Joel routinely grabbing the wrong whammy bar while he was playing.

Of course, The Matadors aren’t known simply for their ability to make the audience and each other laugh (I don’t even know how they could continue to play, they were laughing so hard at times), but also for playing really solid original rockabilly tunes even when it appears that they’re not playing for anyone.

Unfortunately acts like The Matadors stand a good chance of not being booked in town for very much longer, as the Kamloops crowds don’t seem to make it out to enough of the shows.

In fact this is the fourth show I had attended since the summer that failed to produce a crowd significantly larger than the combined number of the band members that showed up to play.

Perhaps it’s merely a problem of insufficient advertising on behalf of the promoter or the venue, or maybe it’s an unfortunate matter of rockabilly being a dying scene in the Kamloops area.

Who knows?

What can be said for sure is that unless you were one of the 10 or so people in Pogue Mahone that night, you missed one hell of a show.

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