Chris Staig and the Marquee Players The Shack By the Tracks

Chris Staig & The Marquee Players Shack by The Tracks.jpg

Submitted by Don Graham

Every once in a while a CD comes by that is a pleasant surprise and such was the case with Chris Staig and The Marquee Players album “Shack by The Tracks”. This latest of five solo recordings released by Chris is chock full of great tunes and grooves. You’ll hear a little of The Band, Little Feat, some Beatles, Blue Rodeo and even a little eearly Flying Burrito Brothers.

Chris Staig’s current band, The Marquee Players, consists of Stephen O'Toole on bass, Shelley Coopersmith on violin and mandolin, and Ian Mackay on the drums. They have monthly residency at Toronto’s famed  Hole in the Wall, and are a real honest to goodness working band.

The opening track of the album “Tap Your Toe” sets the tone with its toe-tapping tempo and clever lyrics. “Martha” is a bluesy lament complete with horns and strings. Well done. “Blue About You” is followed by “Tulane”, a song reminiscent of The Band in its influence with some Little Feat thrown in; one of my favourite tracks. “How Do You Love Again” is followed by “Blue Denim”, a soft, sincere ballad, delivered with emotion and conviction. “Drinking Her Name Away” is that old down home 4/4 country tune  you need in any good Chris Staig set. Good fun. “Bunch of Drunks” has a pseudo reggae feel to a  lyrical ode to high school drinking. “Ridge Road” more classic Staig songwriting and delivery while “Can’t Get Past It” with its haunting fiddle solo and introspective content sits nicely in the set. “Only You and Me” is little like Blue Rodeo another solid song while the set ends with “ Devil of a Day” an ode to the late  Bobby Charles who wrote “ See You Later Alligator”and performed on the Band’s Last Waltz concert. The tune lets you know that a song can get you through a devil of a day.

So if you want to feel like you’re in L.A. at the old Palomino or in a bar on the West Coast or in the heartland listening to music that makes you think and move to the beat then grab yourself a copy of Shack By The Tracks and if you can, go catch Chris Staig and The Marquee Players if they’re playing anywhere near you. You’ll be glad you did.