We continue our coverage of live music enjoyed recently in London, ON from the 47th Home County Music & Art Festival, with another set that occurred on the North Stage featuring Hamilton, ON duo The Trainwreck Two (Ginger St. James & SnowHeel Slim). Having been a huge fan of Ginger’s potent brand of country and rockabilly music for several years now, this was an artist who had somehow eluded us on the live circuit – until now (which is bizarre, considering her endless string of regular performances in and around The Hammer).
As Home County MC (and good friend of GDW) Bob Klanac introduced both Ginger and Slim to the stage, and offered some snippets of information about them, he shared with the audience the origins of Slim’s persona. “He was given his name by a bluesman down in the south who was great at giving out nicknames,” Bob stated. “And he asked him, ‘where you from?’ ‘Canada.’ ‘You’re SnowHeel Slim’.” And ever-appreciative of the chance to perform live, both Ginger and Slim would commence a solid 45-minute set of classic original tunes and some recent new-writes too.
“I’m so lucky to get to play with this guy, and it’s funny, we met each other like sixteen or seventeen years [ago], not necessarily playing together, but just when we first saw each other, and we only lived 10-minutes apart our whole lives,” Ginger announced immediately after a new tune, “Please Renne,” in appreciation of the talented guitar slinger seated next to her. “We’re both from farms and his uncle worked the fields where I lived. It just didn’t come together until he messaged me about an opera song I was doing. I’m versatile, and although I like playing country and rockabilly, I can do that too, but how cool is that?” “But that was over ‘My Space,’ wasn’t it? Bring back ‘My Space’,” Slim responded, eliciting chuckles (and maybe a few nods too) from the congregation before them.
The chemistry between the two artists shone all afternoon, especially on their time-tested popular favorites such as the up-tempo “Please Mr. Driver,” the slower “Merry Go Round,” and an early Grinders number, “Lonely Cryin’ Blues.” I was also pleased to hear “Train Whistle,” a personal favorite that Ginger took time to talk about prior to the performance. “We participated in the Artist on Board program that Via Rail Canada provides [where] you can sing for your ticket,” she stated. “It’s really great, and we travelled across the country on the train, and I was ashamed of myself. I’m like, ‘I don’t even have a train song,’ so we wrote one, and it’s got a little title – how original – called Train Whistle.”
Slim would pleasantly surprise us with a couple of his own compositions (complete with lead vocals), “Guitar Song” and “Turkey Buzzard,” and would also share his great rockabilly instrumental piece, “Slim’s Reel.” Ginger, too, would offer a few new, unreleased tracks, including “Soul Shack” – one inspired by being happy to shun fame and fortune for happiness and being able to do what she loves. “I don’t wanna be a star, I just wanna play. I want longevity, I just wanna write good songs,” she added. “I’m inspired by so many different genres … I was listening to Glenn Miller at two and a half. I thought it was fantastic, and watching musicals and things like The Muppet Show and all those variety shows. I kinda don’t hold back. I mean, I know the people I play with do make it cohesive and it’s great because I like that gritty, I like that rawness about things, but I also like that honesty and it’s a shame, I feel bad sometimes for those big stars … who can’t even go and play somewhere local.”
With their stage time drawing to a close, Ginger and Slim bid the crowd farewell with a highly energetic, foot-stompin’ rendition of their popular rockabilly classic, “Country Bumpkin’.” “Well, I’m no city slicker / My skin’s been getting thicker / Sitting by my lonesome / Like I’m locked up in Folsom / Ramblin’ country bumpkin / With nothing to do / In the barnyard getting cross-eyed / With my guitar, just singing the blues.” This was a fun-filled and entertaining set from The Trainwreck Two – who we were fortunate to catch in a pair of workshops over the weekend too, sharing stages with popular folk-duo Madison Violet, and 2022 CBC Searchlight contest winner, Chad Price. Tis the magic of Home County – you never know who you will catch performing together, and those one-time moments and ad-hoc collaborations as a result.
- Please Mr. Driver
- Please Renne (Unreleased)
- Mean Lowdown Lonesome Yes (Unreleased)
- Train Whistle
- Guitar Song
- Geraldene (Miranda Lambert cover)
- Soul Shack (Unreleased)
- Slim’s Reel
- Merry Go Round
- Lonely Cryin’ Blues
- Turkey Buzzard
- Country Bumpkin’
Photo Credit: Martin Noakes