by Sheldon Birnie
It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Nashville based rockers Those Darlins. Since seeing them open for King Khan & BBQ Show at the Albert a few years back, I’ve been head over heels for the smokin’ babes & hot dude that make up Those Darlins, and the sweet, sweet country tinged rock n roll they pump out.
Those Darlins haven’t been back to Winnipeg since that show (or before that date, either). I travelled to Minneapolis to see them open for the Drive-By Truckers last year, where they put on what I can only assume was a typically raucous show. But that one date in Winnipeg that hooked me was also somewhat of a gruesomely special date for the Darlins, as well.
Spin magazine recently posted Those Darlin’s newest tune, “Summer’s End,” which is featured on a limited edition split 7″ the band is putting out with their current tour-mates Heavy Cream. The band explains the inspiration and genesis of “Summer’s End” to Spin as follows,
This is what you might call our spin on the American murder ballad. We owe Charlie Louvin and King Khan on this one, so it might be more properly referred to as Canadian-American murder ballad. It’s inspired by a chef-cum-seductor-cum-body dissector who lived at the Royal Albert Arms Hotel in Winnipeg. We were playing the club on the first floor and the above hotel, which would land somewhere between Bates and Altamont, was currently abandoned. Khan who was obsessed with the story at the time, dragged us up to the murder room. The place had been wiped clean of all the blood of course, but it was still terrifying to stand in there knowing the bizarre shit that went down.
If there’s one thing Winnipeggers love, it’s outside recognition, whether that be in form of Simpsons’ mockery, or shout-outs to our middle-of-nowhereness on The Office. This latest addition to Winnipeg’s bizarre lore as the Murder Capital of Canada is sure to be a welcome one among the rock n roll crowd, at any rate.
One other interesting tid-bit of info from that evening at the Albert. Those Darlins ended their set off with a rocking cover of Johnny Kidd & The Pirates “Shaking All Over,” a tune that resonates back through the years to Winnipeg rockers as the tune that launched Chad Allen & The Expressions, who later morphed into the uber-Winnipeg act The Guess Who. Sometimes things have a funny way of coming full circle out here on the Hillbilly Highway. Let’s hope Those Darlins bring it all home with a Winnipeg show soon, where the crowd will certainly lap up “Summer’s End.” With the Albert set to re-open, we could have the makings of a perfect storm on our hands, friends.