Handshake the Gangster

Warning: this song contains a cuss-word!

I can’t remember how many times I’ve seen the Canadian band Hey Rosetta! perform live. But, I have probably seen almost every Winnipeg gig they played before they announced an indefinite hiatus in 2017.

My introduction to the group, formed in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador in 2005, was through one of those hit-of-the-week cards that Starbucks used to give out a long time ago. The freebie was “Lions for Scottie,” from Plan Your Escape (2006), a super-high-energy song that I used to do fast intervals to when riding a stationary bike for exercise years ago. My older son, Kieran, also a musician, loved the song and convinced me to take him to a Hey Rosetta! concert soon after our discovery. I believe that show was downtown at the Garrick Centre (formerly the Garrick movie theatre).

The band has always been important to Kieran’s musical pursuits. He says bandleader and lead singer Tim Baker’s sound inspired him to be a singer, and I can hear Baker’s influence so clearly my lad’s vocals. Today’s selection is one of the best examples of that, and it’s been pretty wild to hear him singing along to the song when we’ve been listening to it together. And by the way, Kieran and his band are working on a new record right now. I cannot wait to hear the fruits of the writing, rehearsing, recording and production processes!

Another time we saw Hey Rosetta!, they were playing an event at what is now called Shaw Park, home of American League baseball team, the Winnipeg Goldeyes. Both my lads were at the show with me. We met the band and hung out with them for a while, which was pretty exciting. My sweety was with us for yet another HR! concert. I am not sure of the venue; it might have been The Pyramid Cabaret, but I do remember us having seats quite close to the stage.

A Hey Rosetta! live show is distinctive, with brass, violins and cello added to the traditional rock setup. Combined with their high energy, the instrumentation produces a rich, vibrant sound and a unique concert experience that makes the seven-piece group’s shows so appealing and thrilling to witness.

“Handshake the Gangster” comes from Into Your Lungs (2008), the band’s second album, produced by Canadian singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman. The album also contains “Red Heart,” which appears in a video essay by The Globe and Mail’s Stephen Brunt compiled for the CTV National News about the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Games were a moment of national pride, in stark contrast to current news about the legacy of the Residential Schools system; at the same time, a reminder of the goodness we can be when, collectively, we set and commit to genuine intentions for social justice.

In addition to Baker’s singing, songwriting and musicianship, he produced an EP for the Aley Waterman project GALA in 2013 (now known as galaa). One of EP’s tracks, “Little Fires,” is among the first songs I posted on this blog.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from the official Hey Rosetta! YouTube channel:

If you like the music, please give the video a thumb’s up, then head over and buy it, to support the artists who made it.

Official lyrics can be found on the Hey Rosetta! website.

2 thoughts on “Handshake the Gangster

    1. Definitely a favourite, over here on the prairies too. And I see Aley Waterman (from Cornerbrook) has recorded again with her band. Didn’t know if she had remained active in music. I’ll be checking that out soon.

      Liked by 1 person

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