Let’s hit the road, Canada-style (though we’ll linger mostly in the west). Three bands, three locations: 100 Mile House, Portage and Main, and Whitehorse.
I’ve spent a lot of time passing through 100 Mile House over the years, as a kid living in the interior (Williams Lake) and north (Cassiar) of British Columbia, on my way to and from my first commercial radio job (Smithers), or visiting my in-laws (Prince George). 100 miles from where, you might ask? The answers lie back in the mid-19th century gold rush. 100 Mile House, the band, is based in Edmonton, Alberta and channel a quiet folky sound, for the most part. But “Last Call” is a bit more upbeat with some nice banjo and a great sing-along quality.
Portage and Main is a downtown Winnipeg intersection, which turned 150 years old just last month. Portage and Main, the band, reside in Vancouver and sport a laid-back country feel on a lot of their material but “Better Man” breaks out from the pack with a Blue Rodeo-like punch: great organ, super electric guitar lines, catchy tune.
Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon territory and the largest town in Canada’s north. It boasts 20 hours of sunlight on summer days. Whitehorse, the band, can be found in Hamilton, Ontario, offering up a sound that borrows from roots and vintage 1950s twang electric guitar but with songs that defy categorization. “Sweet Disaster” is from their 2015 Leave No Bridge Unburned album: a cool mood piece that builds from some sparse drums, piano and rumbly electric guitar into a breakout chorus.