With a name like The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer, you might think that the Vancouver-based duo is the result of a love story between Captain Ahab and Lizzie Borden. You’d be wrong. In reality, Shawn ‘The Harpoonist’ Hall and Matthew ‘The Axe Murderer’ Rogers are armed with an arsenal of harmonicas, a mess of foot percussion, and a road-worn Telecaster guitar. The duo kick out raw, primal blues, infused with a jolt of renewed energy.
Their memorable name is inspired by a lyric from Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Bobby McGee’ that references the blues harp, (‘I took my harpoon out of my dirty red bandana’) and ‘axe’, a common term for the guitar. Hall and Rogers have been influenced by the well-known, prolific songwriter and Grammy winner Willie Dixon, among others, but recently the band finds themselves increasingly inspired not only by the electric ‘groove blues’ of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s but also by the music of their peers.
Their sound, however, is distinctly their own–smothered in greasy, gritty soul and imbued with funk. The band has been nominated for multiple Maple Blues Awards, and won ‘Blues Act of the Year’ at the SiriusXM Indies in 2013. They have also pounded their fair share of festival stages including SXSW 2013/14, Winnipeg Folk Fest, Ottawa Blues Fest, Calgary Folk Fest, and Montreal Jazz Fest. Along the way they’ve shared the stage with Taj Mahal, Booker T Jones, David Wilcox, Mother Mother, The Sheep Dogs, and Serena Ryder. They’ve also had songs featured on television shows such as the ‘The Good Wife’ and ‘Blue Bloods’.
Their music is unapologetic. It slaps you in the face and makes you sweat like it’s a sticky, summer night. It’s the blues played the way it was meant to be played.