Whyte Ave Womprats rock steampunk dance

Whyte Ave Womprats

Susan Thompson
Express Staff

Peace River residents got decked out in their finest corsets, top hats, and gears for the underground music society’s annual steampunk event on Saturday.

“We’ve noticed over the years that our crowd is very creative and they like to dress up. Halloween is by far our most popular event of the year, and we wanted to give people another opportunity to get creative,” says organizer Micheline Danberger.

“Steampunk is an imagined reality where the future is driven by steam and fused with many things Victorian, it’s also a post apocalyptic world, it’s whatever you imagine it to be really. Our regulars have really embraced the theme. We are really pulling out all the stops trying to increase our base crowd so we can come closer to breaking even without having to raise ticket prices.”

The event featured a costume contest.

The winner for the third year in a row was Izzi Marshall, who was not only decked out in full steampunk finery but also carried an apothecary kit, a wooden box filled with her collection of glass vials of various things from tea to glitter.

“Her creative talent is amazing, every year she ups her game, no sitting on laurels,” says Danberger.

Entertainment for the evening was provided by the Whyte Ave Womprats, an Edmonton band whose songs combine folk and punk in a high-energy blend that got the crowd both jumping and thinking with their provocative lyrics about everything from addiction to the government.

The Womprats started as buskers but have moved up in playing bars, in Edmonton and are now starting to tour further afield.

The band features Brett McCready on guitar and lead vocals, Jordan Frank on upright bass, Stephen “Rookie” Strasser on a washboard-and-suitcase percussion kit, Jarret Gray on fiddle and trombone, Dan Watson on banjo and saxophone, and Kyeler Tymafichuk on mandolin and trumpet.

Local musician Vern Ledger also filled in with his quirky acoustic songs in between sets by the headliners.

The underground music society is now in its 21st season of providing monthly live music events beyond just country and western acts.

“Our mandate is to continually try to expose Peace River and area to a variety of live musical genres and experiences. Over the years we have brought in a lot of blues which seems to appeal the most but also rockabilly, reggae, swing, rock and world music,” Danberger says.

The underground music society recently announced the event is now being sponsored by the North Country Fair music festival held annually in Driftpile.

“We are very excited to partner with them,” Danberger says.

“The underground has crossover appeal with NCF fans and we’ve had many acts in common over the years.”

The next underground event on May 4 will feature the Party Jacket Band and will feature a Star Wars “May the Fourth Be With You” theme.

The attendee with the best Star Wars attire can expect to receive a ticket package for a future event as a prize.

Local acoustic musician Vern Ledger.


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