Endrick & the Sandwiches  – Green Room Rumble (Big in the Garden)

Ten tracks – recorded live – reveal a young band intrigued with the potential of redefining barroom blues – and making them work. A closer look at their debut from ’18 portrays a band brimming with fresh ideas and original music, created by an 8-member band. Endrick & The Sandwiches is: Endrick Tremblay (lead vocals, harp, guitar, piano), Greg McEvoy (lead guitar, vocals), Simon Éthier (bass, backing vocals), Mandela Coupal Dalgleish (drums), Elyze Venne-Deshaies (sax), Anne Lauzière (baritone guitar, percussion, backing vocals), Marie-Pier Lavallée and Gabrièle Côté Lebreux (percussion, backing vocals). Unless the bars in Quebec are paying better than they do here, they won’t get rich quick. But it’s quite evident that money is not their key motivation. Endrick and pal, McEvoy (“music maniacs”) are peas of a pod, born to perform together. Endrick’s skills as a singer and harpist join McEvoy’s exploratory guitar across a wide-range of musical influences, driven by their sheer love of making music that stirs people into party mode. And that’s what Green Room Rumble is – a loving tribute to their blues heroes, rearranged by “4 guys, 4 girls” using a Mad Dogs & Englishmen approach to big-band blues. The party starts with an energized version of Junior Parker’s “Mystery Train” as Enrick’s sturdy vocals and blazing harp join McEvoy’s aggressive guitarwork to merge against a wash of backing vocals. The energy drops with Muddy Water’s “Mannish Boy”, yet the crowd responds to its meaty groove. Slower still is their rendition of Willie Dixon/Memphis Slim’s “Choo Choo”, yet the band takes the opportunity to strut their stuff. Note this is not another copycat barrage of tired blues songs we’ve all heard too many times. Their own “PT Cruiser” demonstrates how this band works – paying homage to Endrick’s beloved PT Cruiser (with all the sex appeal of a Gremlin) – and marrying it to Billy Emerson’s “Every Woman I Know”. It’s an entertaining highlight. Their mournful take on the jazz-blues classic, “Trouble In Mind”, reveals another layer of the band’s talents – and a tasty duet featuring Lauziére. Also telling is their take on Nick Gravenites’ “Born In Chicago”, as this harp-driven classic is closest to Endrick’s obvious love for Paul Butterfield turf. Likewise, “Devil Dues” is an original boogie (as much as any boogie can be original) that explodes over the stage and shows the promise of what this band – clearly driven by the spirit of loving making music – can do. Such sincerity and dedication should carry them far. (Eric Thom)