by Broose Tulloch
An f-hole is the fancy sound hole on a violin, mandolin, or arched-top guitar.
The F-holes are an energetic entanglement of dixieland jazz, traditional bluegrass, and Manitoba roots music.
Red Hot, their third recording is a collection of diverse covers ranging from Tom Waits to Mario Brothers. The official release party happens this Saturday, April 20th at the West End Cultural Centre. Stylus caught up with F-Hole Eric Lemoine (banjo, pedal steel, resonator, bass and vocals) between rehearsal sessions for a Q & A session.
Stylus: How would you describe the F-Holes’ music?
Eric Lemoine: We’ve been describe as “creepy circus,” “prohibition swing,” but I think my favourite is “vaudeville cowboy.” It’s really a combination of all our different playing styles; dixieland elements of the banjo, and trumpet, rockabilly style of the upright bass, swinging drums, country steel and surf guitar.
Stylus: What is it about this genre/style combination that stirs your soul?
EL: I think it really allows us to play whatever we feel like playing. There is a wide variety of tunes and styles we touch on, but the instrumentation and the character of the playing is the common thread that holds it together.
Stylus: Red Hot is being released in vinyl and digital, but not on compact disc.
EL: Mostly for selfish reasons really. All of us in the band really enjoy listening to vinyl and always wanted to have our records pressed to vinyl. There’s something special about the sound of a record being played and the larger canvas for cover art. We thought it suited the project.
Stylus: Red Hot has been available in digital form since last September, but the record is only being released now.
EL: We’ve been busy touring the record and also touring with Little Miss Higgins as the Winnipeg Five. No reason other than that really.
Stylus: Red Hot is a collection of covers in unique F-Holes style. How have the artists you cover factored into your original compositions on previous albums?
EL: Many of the artists that we cover have influenced our original material and I think our instrumentation and the way we arrange songs has influenced the way we perform covers. All of us in the band have different tastes, whether it be jazz, country or surf, but I think the songs selected for this vinyl represents where our interests and influences intersect.
Stylus: What was the first piece of vinyl you bought yourself?
EL: One of the first was Muddy Waters (Hard Again). I had bought it for Patrick in the band as a birthday present. Paid too much for it at Deno’s Pawn, it was in poor condition, but what a great record. Evan’s first one he purchased was a gift for Pat as well, Pink Floyd (Dark Side of the Moon).
Stylus: Other than Red Hot, what record should everyone own?
EL: Two of my all time favorites are Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen (We Got A Live One Here) and Ry Cooder (Boomer’s Story). I just never get tired of them.
Stylus: What’s a good place to grab a bite to eat?
EL: When I have money, I love going to Deer + Almond, it’s great new restaurant. We’re also quite partial to the Nook Clubhouse.
Stylus: Hailed by many musicians as the finest venue in Western Canada, what is your favourite thing about the West End Cultural Centre?
EL: It’s one of our favourite places to play. It’s great to play theatre/listening type rooms, but it’s also nice when there’s room for a dance party to break out at the front of the stage.
Don’t miss the F-Holes LP release at the West End Cultural Centre Saturday, April 20th, just in time for Record Store Day!