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Folk Festival faves return; PTE has a winner in its first show of the season

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Matthew (The Axe Murderer) Rogers, left, and Shawn (The Harpoonist) Hallplay at the Park Theatre on Oct. 23, 2013.

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Matthew (The Axe Murderer) Rogers, left, and Shawn (The Harpoonist) Hallplay at the Park Theatre on Oct. 23, 2013. Photo Store

One plays blues harmonica, the other stomps along while wailing on a Telecaster.

Take Shawn Hall’s harp and Matthew Rogers’ axe, extrapolate those instrument nicknames and you get Vancouver duo The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer, a gritty blues/garage rock act whose stripped-to-the-basics sound comes as a breath of fresh air in today’s Auto-Tuned music world.

Formed after a chance meeting at a radio jingle session, the twosome has a pair of albums to its credit — 2007’s The Blues Can Kill and 2011’s Checkered Past— and another is in the works.

But much of its focus in the past couple of years has been on live performances, which have earned HAM accolades all over their home province and, most recently, further afield at places such as the Toronto Blues Summit, South by Southwest, Folk Alliance and even in Australia.

The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer was also a breakout act at last summer’s Winnipeg Folk Festival, so the Folk Fest is looking to cement the group’s local profile by bringing HAM back for a show Oct. 23 at the Park Theatre.

For ticket info and more details, see winnipegfolkfestival.ca and parktheatervideo.com

* * *

Winnipeg’s Prairie Theatre Exchange opened its 2013-14 season last Thursday with its premiere performance of Daniel MacIvor’s The Best Brothers, a quick-witted comedy about two men and their interactions following the sudden death of their mother.

Carson Nattrass is Kyle Best, a real estate agent who sells condos and new Winnipegger Paul Essiembre is Hamilton Best, an architect who designs condos. As the pair deal with the shock of their mother’s death in a bizarre accident at a Pride parade, they haggle over all sorts of details — from funeral costs to who gets deliver the eulogy — and ultimately fight over their mother’s true favourite son, her dog Enzo.

The show was produced at the Stratford Festival in the summer of 2012 and the PTE production, which is directed by company artistic director Robert Metcalfe, is its first without MacIvor in one of the lead roles.

Winnipeg Free Press theatre critic Kevin Prokosh gave The Best Brothers a four-star review on Oct. 18.

The show runs until Nov. 3. See pte.mb.ca for showtimes and ticket information.

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