Hillbilly Highway – Greg Rekus releases Punkoustic, continues to relentlessly tour Earth


by Sheldon Birnie

It would come as some surprise to me if you, as a Winnipegger, haven’t heard of Greg Rekus at this point. Do you walk around the city with your eyes on the ground, never once looking at any of the posters taped and pealing from light poles? Did you not spend your youth at all ages punk shows, where Greg’s old band, High Five Drive, inevitably made up some part of the bill, if not the headliners?

Even if you are unfamiliar with Greg’s current incarnation as one man “punkoustic” troubadour, that will likely change. Tonight, Greg releases his sophomore solo record, aptly titled Punkoustic — a nod both to his punk rock past, present, and future, but also a tip of the hat to the acoustic guitar toting vagabonds who have been cruising the Hillbilly Highway since before Woody Guthrie was born. The record offers a beefier sound than Rekus brings to the stage, with some full drums and bass guitar here and there. But it still manages to convey to the listener — whether they’ve seen Greg rip up a stage or not — exactly what you’re in for from a Greg Rekus gig. Sure to be a hit on CKUW and UMFM, don’t be surprised if you find yourself singing and stomping along.

Once the record drops, Greg is back on the road. Truly, it seems the man does not stop. A couple years back, when I last had a chance to catch up with Greg for Stylus, he highlighted the differences between touring as a solo artist and in a band with three other people:

With a band it was always tough to be as effective as you can. With four people on the road, if you want to say run some errands or whatever, or just do other things, every one might not be on the same page. That was one of the hard things. One of the easier things was driving. I find on my own I’m doing most or all of the driving, with a band there’s lots more drivers. There are certainly ups and downs to both, but I’m really liking this solo thing right now. It’s nice to be able to get away whenever you can, and not have to try to coordinate four other peoples’ schedules.

From here, Rekus heads West until he hits the ocean. From there, who knows. But an all points bulletin is hereby issued: attention punk rockers who dig getting down and dirty singing Stompin Tom tunes, Greg Rekus is on the road and you’ll do yourself a favour by checking him out.

Greg Rekus plays the Park Theatre tonight with a big ass bill including Rockopolis PA, the Mad Young Darlings, Cheering for the Bad Guy, and the Dust Rhinos. Punkoustic is now available at fine independent retailers across the city.

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