At Winterfolk, Raz Mataz Magazine had a chat with Ginger St. James, who was a pleasure to talk to, with her perky, friendly and fun personality. Ginger brought all of those qualities on stage along with a whole lot of sultriness. Her music features bluesy rock-n-roll melodies, and her vocals resembles a more throwback, country kind of vibe.
Ginger performed as part of a special Valentine’s Day evening on the first night of the Winterfolk Festival at Black Swan Tavern in Toronto. Her performance and stage presence is like no other. It can be said she picked it up from her burlesque days, but as Ginger tells Raz Mataz, “It always had sort of been around.”
Ginger, along with her band who can’t be commended enough, performed some of their older material, most notably ‘Please, Mr. Driver’ and ‘Boom, Boom, Boom’, both of which are powerful, rollicking, and sexy tunes.
The band also did a cover of Otis Rush’ ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’. Truthfully, no one on the planet can do that song as well as Zeppelin, but Ginger sure as hell put her own style to it and her impeccable vocals, capped off with an awesome guitar solo from Snowheel Slim, had the crowd engaged and on their feet after after it was done. It was “one of our doozies,” as she described it.
Another stand out song was ‘Furious’, which is off her upcoming album, Diesel and Peas. The song is a pure fun rockabilly track, which she said she wrote to get all that fiery anger out. Ginger described the rest of the tracks off Diesel and Peas as more stripped back and having more diversity in the sound, including some two step-dance beats. It is definitely an album to be on the lookout for!
Ginger St. James, along with her band, is the type of musician who’s, as the saying goes, sum is better than the parts – her sultry, charismatic performances, powerful vocals, and great songwriting – enthused together make up a must-see musician, who was definitely one of the highlights at Winterfolk.
That’s not to take away from HOTCHA! who preceded Ginger St. James that night.
The veteran hillbilly band consists of Beverely Kreller and Howard Druckman, a couple spending their Valentine’s night on the stage, emphasized by Kreller as the only connection their set has to the affectionate occasion.
During their performance Druckman described themselves as “putting the folk back into Winterfolk for 5 years.” That is exactly what they do and continue to do at the festival, featuring more than a dozen songs of rhythmic southern folk and blues. Most notably of which was ‘Mines Went Down’, driven by Kreller on hand drum who, with yarn mallets, kept the beat moving forward with its tribal-like march.
There was the cover of Louis Armstrong’s 1935 hit, ‘Old Man Mose’, which featured humorous call-and-response vocals between Kreller and Druckman, and their cover of a song about a hobo by the river in ‘Catfish John’. The piece was a very upbeat, foot-stomping southern folk track, with Kreller on accordion.
HOTCHA! definitely started the night off on the right note, and the lineup with Ginger St. James brought a one-two southern punch to the start of Valentine’s night at the Black Swan Tavern in Toronto.