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"Thump & Howl throws plenty of (enjoyable) curveballs.
Viper Central have made it clear that they have the belief, versatility and sonic firepower to re-shape traditional styles as they see fit.
Not only does their love of this music ensure ‘Thump & Howl’ is an exhilarating listen, but their desire to stretch out bodes extremely well for the
- Excerpt from Review of Thump & Howl by Tom Peacock
Whisperin' & Hollerin'
May 23, 2012
"Thump & Howl is a forty minute journey of original material that combines talented finger pickin’ and entertaining
storytelling to give ample evidence of the torch of traditional roots music being kept well and truly alight. A musical evening in Viper Central's company is an opportunity not to be missed."
- Excerpt from Review of Thump & Howl by David Hughes on FATEA
May 25, 2012
"A versatile bunch of likeable and talented musicians, equally adept at concerts and workshops
with an engaging manner with the audience. Judging by the feedback we received, one of the 'finds'
of the festival for many people."
- Mike Kirrage, Director
Gate to Southwell Folk Festival, 2011
"A warm feel; strong, mutually supportive, ensemble playing; and a likeable bunch....
They mix traditional and classic material with their own stuff to good and varied effect."
- Pete Wrench, Eden on the Line
June 8, 2011
"Comparisons to Old Crow Medicine Show are inevitable, but if tonight was anything
to go by, this group proves that Vancouver could easily hold its own against North Carolina."
- Excerpt from concert review by Steve Clements in the Brighton Source
June 6, 2011
"This is blistering bluegrass, original, fresh and energetic."
- John Davy, from CD review of The Devil Sure is Hard to Please on No Depression
April 25, 2010
"Viper Central brought down the house at two concerts at the 2010 San
Francisco Bluegrass & Old Time Festival. Both their shows were so packed we
had to turn people away at the door. They lived up to their billing. Extremely
exciting music, great musicianship and singing, creativity, a fun show - what more
could you ask. Everyone loved them. They made many new fans, and sold a ton of CD's.
I highly recommend them for any other festivals or shows."
- Ken Frankel
Booking Coordinator, San Francisco Bluegrass & Old Time Festival
"The Northern Lights Bluegrass and Old Tyme Music Society was pleased
to have Viper Central join our lineup for the 2009 music camp and festival.
Along with their amazing talent, they brought enthusiasm and a wonderful 'down to earth'
attitude. We were so pleased with the way they interacted with the students at camp.
Their patience and willingness to help was appreciated by everyone, and it was apparent
by the many compliments from festival-goers that their music was a smash hit!
We certainly hope to see them again in the future."
- Tracey Lalonde
Northern Lights Bluegrass & Old Tyme Music Society
"Vocal harmonies and driving rhythms highlight Viper's unique sound and arrangements.
It's hard to distinguish their original songs in their repertoire; traditional and timeless.
They left our audience wanting more."
- Kelly Sherwin
President, Victoria Bluegrass Association
the Devil Sure is Hard to Please
"Viper Central gets down to the roots of American music in a way that revitalizes
the sound and makes it new for today. The Devil Sure Is Hard To Please is a stellar offering...
and a must-have for true music fans."
Dec. 6, 2008
"If seminal Americana bands the Freight Hoppers and the Bad Livers had
given birth to a perfect, cherub-like child, it would have sounded like
Vancouver's Viper Central. Drawing on the deep well of ancient tones found
in old-time and blue grass music, Viper Central have created a batch of sophisticated
and authentic tunes and songs on their first major recording project "The Devil Sure is Hard to Please".
This recording is an achievement, and a welcome addition to the burgeoning Canadian
old-time and blue grass music catalogue."
- Matt Large,
Notre Dame de Grass and Hello Darlin' Productions
Nov. 11, 2008
"Somewhat interchangeable as most bluegrass bands tend to be or lose their
secret membership cards, I still feel like Viper Central might be the best of the lot
thanks to the singer's good-goofy voice and an extra-sinister playing of fiddle on Shotgun Wedding.
Also, points for subject matter and leaning towards "old timey."
Their Devil in the Hourglass also kicks my ass."
- Fish Griwkowsky,
Review of Whiskey Hollow Bound in the Edmonton Sun
"A hot new band from Vancouver. Extremely talented, passionate musicians. Beautiful
playing and exquisite vocals. Every note shines."
- Cam Salay, June 2007
Brackendale Bluegrass Festival
"From bittersweet old-time ballads to fiery bluegrass breakdowns, the acoustic moonshine
they distill is 160-proof."
- The Georgia Straight,
"As someone who has been watching the Vancouver scene for over a quarter of a century now,
it seems like an especially vibrant time. The old guard is being pushed aside by the
up-and-comers. A prominent example is 'VIPER CENTRAL'. The self-described "six-piece acoustic
ensemble specializing in that old southern sound" is making their mark these days. Most of
them sing and compose the original music that sets them apart from the pack. The thought that
really gives one pause is that they are just really getting going. There's a lot of promise and
potential in 'VIPER CENTRAL', to say nothing of enthusiasm. And oh... Did I mention? They've
got really great lookin' t-shirts. That's important too."
- Paul Norton, Nov. 2006
Host/Producer of 'In The Pines' and
'What The Folk' on CFRO 102.7 fm
"I was totally absorbed by the band and the music. Everyone in the group were featured
soloists and many were featured vocalists. The music was fresh and exciting, the lyrics were
poignant and the whole vibe was let's have fun and show you how to have a good time. The
musicianship of all players was such that they seemed to play effortlessly while negotiating
some difficult original music. It's great to see a band with a nice mix of male and female
instrumentalists... The women in this band are musicians first and singers also. A great
Graham Ord, Nov. 2006
- An active member of the Vancouver music scene since 1971, Graham Ord has built a solid resumé
with membership in great bands like the NOW Orchestra, John Korsrud's Hard Rubber
Orchestra, Garbo's Hat, Brass Roots, Kathy Kidd's Kongo Mambo and others.
FEATURE ARTICLE on Viper Central
What's the most ridiculous band name you can possibly think of? For six young bluegrass and
old-time musicians from the West Coast, it was "VIPER CENTRAL"! What began as an outrageous
inside joke on a beer-infused night at the Montmartre Café in Vancouver has become, in fact,
the ultimate parody of itself: a cult phenomenon!... Only in this case what sounds like a heavy
metal band from the 1980's is actually an acoustic ensemble specializing in "that old southern
sound"... And they're from Canada... Eh?!!
"It's so wrong... it's right!", quips Steven Charles, with the devious sparkle in his eye that
earned him the handle "Snake Charmer". A formally educated jazz guitarist highly
active in Brazilian music and theatre, Steve was drawn to bluegrass & old time for their dynamic
energy and simple yet compelling lyricism. A cofounder of the band, he alternates onstage
between upright bass and 5-string banjo, his firm grasp of the music evident as he leads the
band into one of his carefully-crafted originals, so authentic-sounding you wouldn't guess it
was written in a thriving metropolis in the 21st Century.
Originally from the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky & West Virginia, bluegrass and old-time
are in fact distinctly separate genres that share common roots and similar musical and lyrical
themes. Together with early folk and country blues, acoustic roots music has evolved into
something of a global phenomenon, experiencing an actual resurgence in popularity thanks to
feature films like O' Brother Where Art Thou and Cold Mountain.
Despite fair-weather fans, Vancouver has had an active bluegrass & old-time scene since 1975,
when the Pacific Bluegrass & Heritage Society was first established. Tyler Rudolph has been a
member of the PBHS since 1997, when he bought his first banjo and began hosting a bluegrass &
old-time radio show on CITR 101.9FM. "It's amazing. In the past five years there's been such
a dramatic influx of new energy to the club. The scene is so much more vibrant now than when
I was first introduced and there are so many talented young acts making original new music."
A gifted storyteller, Tyler has lived and worked all over Canada as a guide, park ranger and
ecologist. His intrigue with folklore is evident in his songwriting and his inventive bluegrass
banjo is a natural complement to his funky clawhammer style, adding an element of adventure to
the VIPER sound.
Enter "the Cavemaster", Dr. Mark Vaughan. A chemist by profession and a product of Nova
Scotia, music has been a part of Mark's life since he was old enough to know better. The band's
informal technical wiz and a curiously methodical man of few words, his relentless scientific
approach to the mandolin has rendered him a highly accomplished player of many styles including
rock, gypsy jazz and swing. The controlled fury of Mark's Monroe-inspired lead breaks is a
testament to the band's infectious appeal, witnessed in gasps of delight as he tears into a
raucous rendition of the self-penned "Devil in the Hourglass".
As if to exorcise demons from their dark repertoire, fiddler Kathleen Nisbet takes
centre-stage with "Every Humble Knee Must Bow", an old-time gospel number. Soulfully daring all
who would not heed the call, one can sense that she comes from a deep place of knowing. A
classically-trained violinist, Kathleen's pure tone and calm self-assurance bely her years of
experience, perhaps why her fellow VIPERS call her "the Oracle". A veteran performer and
session musician, Kathleen's Metis roots were what drew her to fiddling. Though a relative
newcomer to the bluegrass style, Kathleen's facility of the material is nonetheless remarkable.
As she rips into the minor epic Jerusalem Ridge, one can only imagine what is in store when she
reaches her full potential.
Complementing the sultry singing of Nisbet is the golden voice of Lorraine Cobb. A mainstay
in the West Coast bluegrass scene, Lola's band the Mountain Bluebirds have toured extensively in
Western Canada and their 2006 self-titled release is holding fast on the radio charts.
Nicknamed "the Rock", Lola's fierce rhythm and solid timing galvanizes the VIPER sound and her
frequent fits of laughter on- and off-stage make it clear that she loves what she does. A
passionate vocalist with boundless energy, Lola is a crowd favourite whose contribution is
As if five ringers wasn't enough, the friends enlisted the services of Rayco-sponsored
ace-in-the-hole Tim Tweedale on dobro. Originally intended as a recording project, the group's
surprising chemistry and undeniable potential made incorporation inevitable. A relentless
arranger, Tim's sound vision, dedication and attention to detail are something the band has
built on. With his frequent mad forays into unexplored territory, both musical & rhythmic, it
is clear the group will continue to evolve, pushing the boundaries of traditional acoustic
music and making it their own, or "VIPERizing it!" as they would say.
Although they have only been in the spotlight for a few short months, already VIPER CENTRAL
is being recognized as part of the new face of bluegrass & old-time music in Vancouver. Joining
forces with other emerging artists doing original Canadian material in the genre, the band will
be featured on a compilation CD to be released in spring 2007. Other featured acts include the
Breakmen, the Mountain Bluebirds, Dyad, Plough and Redgrass. Produced by Steven Charles, a
benefit concert for the CD will take place at the ANZA Club in Vancouver on Dec. 17th, 2006.
It is a very exciting time indeed for bluegrass & old-time music in Canada. In the midst of
a surge in the music's popularity, a changing of the guard is nigh. A new generation of
Canadian artists is embracing the tradition, establishing a repertoire of original Canadian
music in an otherwise traditionally American genre. The Vancouver scene in particular is
bursting with new talent and bands like VIPER CENTRAL are at the pulse of a dynamic movement
shaping acoustic music in Canada today. So what if their name makes us think of some one-hit
glam-metal band from the 1980's? They're obviously not too concerned about it. And with
top-rate musicianship, excellent original songwriting and a sound vision for the future of
their music, this slithery ensemble has little chance of disappearing anytime soon.