Three On the Tree by United Steel Workers of Montreal

Photography by gabriele chiapparini

A lot of thanks to our Senior VIP/VP Fulltext for turning my sights toward this gem… I love me some bluegrass, I really do. I remember back in Tampa during my effervescent young adulthood, living in my garage-converted-to-an apartment (it was underneath the garage apartment, ceilings about 6’3″, I’m 6’1″) with my bicycle and moped down in the Hyde Park area, playing chef at the local 4 star hotel, where every Tuesday, I think, the local community radiostation, WMNF 88.5 would have their bluegrass show. Whether I was home or running the kitchen at work, that gem would be on. Some old guy would jibber on about something for a few minutes and then Bill Monroe or some quartet of crooners from lard knows where & when would sing fast & furious to the rhythm set by someone playing a blistering banjo. I swear, bluegrass was punk before those selling-out rugrats of the 60s or whatever were even a hard-on from their future dad’s penis.

Songs about the hard life, living on the rails, drinkin’, workin’, and basically making (and not making) ends meet greeted me weekly. A wonderful reminded that all is life and my shit’s mine, but we all got shit.

Of course, bluegrass and all that is was wonderfully captured years later in quite possibly my favourite movie (along side Eternal Sunshine) O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Since then, it’s rather difficult to mention bluegrass without at least a nod to that amazing soundtrack, eh?


Ah, good times.

So, this time around, FT points me to a band called United Steel Workers of Montreal and their album Three On the Three, and really, bluegrass? Canadian? How could I resist?

Oh my. First the vocals, because you’ve got a few going on. First is the gruff & manly & beer drinking & 50 years old sounding which is, I’m guessing, Gern, he sounds like a “Gern”, if I had to guess what a “Gern” would sound like. I’m going to take a guess and say it’s the dude in the tie that could kick my sorry ass….

Then Felicity, oh Felicity, red-headed, pig-tailed, sweet voiced Felicity, a wonderful compliment to the sandpaper, the sugar to the medicine, etc, etc (insert your own analogy here).


Then there’s Shawn “Gus” Beauchamp (how’s THAT for a French Canadian name?) who’s got the smooth straight man’s vocal duties, I’m thinking the guy in the blazer.

How’d I do?

Anyways, they all work together, taking turns, then maybe working against each other,here and there, building ballads (no, not slow love songs, but stories), built around this bluegrass, country, bar blues thing they got going on.

I can imagine pretty easy a half-underground, super-blue-collar shit bar somewhere round-bouts Montreal, stumbling in, removing my toque, scarf, and maybe my parka, turning around to see these guys off to the side, keeping all the drunken slobs at the bar at full attention while they drink down their Molson — though I prefer Moosehead, which, maybe ironically, or appropriately or whatever, I was introduced to while listening to that old Bluegrass show way back when — listening as their life is being sung to them.

Very cool.

Thanks FT, another gem!

01. Three Hard Knocks
02. For Love and Your Mother’s Sake
03. Son, Your Daddy Was Bad
04. Shot Tower
05. Little Girl
06. Glen Jones
07. Lorelei
08. Rise Up
09. The Line
10. Making Babies
11. The Ballad of Mara Gallagher
12. What a Riot
13. Jesus We Sweat

Some USWM Link Love…
Myspace |Label

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