Happy hillbillies: Seal Skull Hammer’s John Fleming

Hammer drops new CD

Straight out of the Ozarks it’s Seal Skull Hammer – well, really, more like straight off Alton Gowen’s Second Avenue porch

Straight out of the Ozarks it’s Seal Skull  Hammer – well, really, more like straight off Alton Gowen’s Second Avenue porch, but good ol’ boys nonetheless.

Gowen, Darrin Herting and John Fleming have perfected their hillbilly persona in their “jug band” sans jug.

With infectious hilarity, the three musicians talk about their porch concert beginnings four years ago to their three appearances at the Roots and Blues Festival and their third album, Hillbilly Hot Snakes, which will launch at an Oct. 3 concert.

Forget the concept of lounge lizards, the album got its name from Gowen’s young daughter, he says blushing.

A compilation of old-time favourites, Herting calls the CD “a batch of original goodness with some old-time favourites drizzled over.”

“There ain’t no point in having biscuits if you ain’t got no gravy,” interjects Fleming, adding to the silliness that erupts whenever the three musicians are together.

Gowen says it was time to drop another CD as the all-originals Better was launched in 2013.

“We’ve been working on our overall performance and there’s a pretty significant difference from the porch days,” he says. “Watching old videos, it’s insane to see how much we’ve developed, not just the music, it’s the stage performance.”

Gowen’s remark that both Seal Skull Hammer’s music and performance have improved tremendously since the “Stoopie Sessions,” is met with another Fleming comment.

“This album is even mo’ better than the first two, “he says. “We’re still on the porch, we just got nicer boots.”

And they are getting more off-the-porch gigs too.

The guys were thrilled an extra Wednesday on the Wharf was tacked on to the end of the season after their first play date  was rained out.

Otherwise, they have had a busy summer.

“We popped up at Theatre on the Edge, busking outside, did a vintage bike show at O’keefe Ranch and played at the Smash Me Up Derby in August,” says Gowen.

“We’re more sows ears, if you know what I mean,” comments Fleming.

Silk purse or sow’s ear, Seal Skull Hammer has attracted a large and enthusiastic audience with their infectious music and attitude. It’s hard to do anything but laugh when they slip into hillbilly mode.

Hear the boys up close and personal at Shuswap Theatre on Saturday, Oct. 3. Doors open at 6:30 and the show begins “sometime thereafter – most likely at 7:30.”

Special Guests Off Kilter – Robbie Milne, Joanie Robertson and James Clark will open the show.

Tickets at $20 are available at Synergy Studio at 31 Second St. SE, the Shuswap Pie Company and the Book Nook at the corner of Ross Street and Hudson Avenue.


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