They loved the blues, but hated its popular, generic practitioners. It was the motivating factor for the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir. That, and Judd Palmer’s and drummer Pete Balkwill’s acceptance of an opening slot for Canadian bluesman Lester Quitzau despite not having a band. You see, Palmer played slide guitar in Calgary country-folk band Great Uncle Bull. They would have made a good opener, but they broke up. He talked bassist and fellow Bullsman Vladimir Sobolewski into doing the gig. Sobolewski, in turn, called hotshot guitarist Bob Keelaghan from punk-blues-unsane-abilly combo The Puritans, knowing he shared Palmer’s love for early blues and country. Keelaghan wasn’t busy because The Puritans just broke up, too. Sobolewski knew this because he also played in The Puritans. In one week with three rehearsals, they put together a set and played the gig in January of 2001. Then people kept asking them to play.
The AMGC’s raucous, firebrand interpretations of pre-WW II acoustic blues and country struck a chord with Calgarian audiences. The roots crowd liked them for their reverence for the musical sources minus the obvious cliches of many modern interpreters. But rock audiences ate up their sets, too. The Agnostics managed to translate and amplify the energy of early Skip James and Son House, transcending the lo-fidelity of a scratchy 78, and reminding young listeners why this music mutated into rock’n’roll. (From Their Website)
Albums of Note: St. Hubert, Fighting and Onions, Ten Thousand
Songs of Note: Go Back Home (You can never go back home/You can never go back home again)
Rainstorms in My Knees (I’ve been losing the leaves in my tree/I look in the mirror and it ain’t me/I’ve been feeling rainstorms in my knees/I’ve been feeling rainstorms in my knees)
10,000 Years (I’ve been here 10,000 years/And I’ll be here 10,000 more)
Nehemiah’s Misfortune (Misfortune go away!)
Look Up Look Down that Lonesome Road (Look up, look down that lonesome road/Hang down your little head and cry my love/Hang down your little head and cry)