Local band bringing classic film music to the concert stage

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Snake River embraced the sound of silence.

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Regina’s group are set to live a unique concert experience on December 29 and 30 at the Artesian, performing their original score on a 1921 silent film called The Phantom Carriage.

It’s an ambitious project inspired by two groups from Saskatoon – Shooting Guns and The Garrys – who have done similar shows in the past.

“We’re friends with these bands and we love them, so we wanted to do our own (show) and kind of an unofficial Sask trilogy. live scores, ”said Snake River frontman Christopher Sleightholm. “We had been playing around with the idea for a while, but we never seemed to be able to find the time. When the (COVID) restrictions were lifted and we were able to start rehearsing again, it was a great opportunity to spend three months squatting. “

Next week’s performances are long overdue for Snake River, who hasn’t done a live show since late 2019. The intention at the time was to take time off and work on a new record, only for COVID-19 to extend their break.

“We were thinking about what kind of show we would like to put on as our first comeback show,” Sleightholm said. “We had always wanted to do a score. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to put the album release stuff aside for now and do that other show idea.

Snake River completed their sixth record – aptly titled Lost Album – in late 2019, but the group’s inability to tour during the pandemic put it on a shelf.

When COVID lingered in early 2021, the group grew tired of waiting.

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“It wasn’t a great time to release an album but we wanted it anyway,” Sleightholm said. “We’ll be playing a good gig for the album release sometime after the Phantom Carriage shows. “

Snake River’s usual sound – “tangy psychedelic rock” – has been adapted to suit the occasion. The finished product is a difficult 100 minute set that required a lot of rehearsal time and created a lot of nervous excitement.

“It’s a lot of new material to play,” Sleightholm noted. “Usually you add a new song or two to a set every now and then. It’s kind of a whole new double set. We don’t really have a safety net.

The Phantom Carriage tells the story of David Holm, who shows no remorse for his alcoholism or the effect it has on his family. As midnight approaches on New Years Eve, he meets the ghostly conductor of the Death Carriage and is forced to look back on his past mistakes, reminiscent of Scrooge from A Christmas Carol.

“It’s a kind of horror, fantasy, folk tale,” Sleightholm said. “It’s a bit of a darker image but it’s not without light. There is a really cool beat. There is always something that changes or moves. Our score somewhat reflects this.

While the creation process didn’t start with a specific movie in mind, Sleightholm had seen the Phantom Carriage years ago and eventually realized it would be the “perfect match”.

“I am by no means a fan of silent films,” he said. “I’ve seen some of the classics and that’s about it. But I had seen the Phantom Carriage and loved the movie.

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When it came to writing the score, Sleightholm had scenes from the film in mind, but he didn’t see the film again until later.

As it turned out, the music was going like a glove.

“It was pretty scary to be honest,” he said with a laugh. “I didn’t even take into account the length of the scenes or whatever. I just made a piece of music and it lined up perfectly. It seemed like a reassuring thing that we picked the right movie. “

The theatrical side of the project is also appropriate for Snake River. The group debuted in 2012 with a backstory that included characters from a fictional town called Snake River Mountain.

The city and its occupants have recurring roles in the band’s music.

“There’s a little more to the literary stuff with the lyrics rather than just writing from my own perspective,” he said. “It’s more interesting for me to write through characters and tell a story that way. On stage, we don’t move around a lot, but the sound is cinematic and the lyrics tell a story.

The Phantom Carriage fits this profile to a T-shirt.

“It’s a cast of characters but it’s also in this city; all the action takes place in empty streets and dark cemeteries, ”Sleightholm added. “The city becomes a bit like its own element in the film. It was super appealing to us.

Tickets for the December 29 show are $ 25 and are available on the Artesian website. The show on December 30 is sold out.

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