“Ever heard of cowpunk?” Josh Bravener is a born and bred Frederictonian who plays with a local rockabilly/’cowpunk’ band called The Hypochondriacs. He also, consequently, has a love for country music, the kind your parents grew up with: Hank Williams, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and Johnny Cash, but with a punk-y twist. That love of twang has brought him to organizing a tribute show to the Grand Ole Opry called Grand Ole Wilsers.
“I’ve always loved country music and I’ve been playing around with ideas to do something like this for a while, so I started my band. I got a kick out of taking old songs and making them not so old sounding, kind of modernizing them a little bit and giving them a bit more edge. I just like to give it that extra little boost and present it to people.”
The upcoming show of the Grand Ole Wilser’s will not be the first collaboration by the group. Josh organized them to play at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival in September.
“We played for Harvest Jazz and Blues. It was kind of a dream come true. It’s a genre that a lot of people turn their heads away from because when they hear it, the genre ‘country’, they get scared, they get turned off. Mainstream misogyny via a form of music? That’s not country; that’s modern country.”
Josh, however, wants to move away from where modern country music has taken the genre, choosing to build the show around the genre’s more traditional heroes, “I think it’s really cool that I can do my small part to play these songs and pay tribute to them, and have people come out, who I respect, to sing these songs. It’s cool to have them come and listen to it: that very real, real root of the country genre!”
Josh has gathered a plethora of artists together to pay tribute to those classic country stars: “Let me just clear some of this up: It’s not like we’re doing these specific songs from the ‘Grand Ole Opry’; we’re doing it from that area. Scott Cuzner (Elephants Gerald) and I are doing the Everly Brothers; Penelope Stevens (Motherhood) is going to be doing Marty Robins, which I’m really excited about. We have Nick Cobb (Olympic Symphonium, Force Fields) doing Stompin’ Tom Conners. My father, Mike Bravener (The Rockabillies) is doing Hank Snow. We have Justine Correseau (Jukebox Live), she’s doing Linda Ronstadt. We’ve got Juanita Burke (Sissy and the Hobos) and she is doing Loretta Lynn. We also have Jamie Guitar on bass, Aaron Bravener on drums, and Shane Guitar, playing guitar. I hope to be adding a couple more people to the band. There are a few people I am really excited about working with. There’s potential for some other special guests, for sure!”
“It’s not like an impersonation show. We’re not dressed like the original artists. We’re not trying to sound like the original artists. I was pretty lucky this time. The first time I went and sought out musicians to come in and sing songs from country artists, but after the first one, I had people come in saying, ‘I want to do the next one and this is the person I want to do’, so this one was a lot easier. It’s going to be great because I don’t really get to see the end product until the end. It’s going to be really awesome to see it all come together!”
Grand Ole Wilsers is part of the Shivering Songs Festival on Thursday, January 21st. The show is at the Capital Complex, in the Wilser’s Room (of course), from 8pm-10:30pm (doors open at 7pm). For more information check out the event page.
Photo by Josh Hunter.