Jeff Innes of Yukon Blonde

words by Michelle McChristie, photos by Darren McChristie

November 5th was a busy night in Thunder Bay. The Arkells played the Outpost, Brock Zeman played the Finlandia Club, Outside the Lines played Ruby Moon, Skull Fist played Black Pirates Pub…to name but a few. Music fans were spread across the city, so it was a small, but enthusiastic, crowd that came out to see Yukon Blonde at Crocks.
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The Greenbank Trio kicked off the show with a cover of CSN’s “Almost Cut My Hair” and followed this up with a few of their original songs. The folk-rock trio, although a quartet for this show, was trained in classical music at L.U. and are based in Thunder Bay. The trio is comprised of Jim Breslin, Chris Lamont, and Luke Blair.

The Paint Movement was up next. They are a six-piece, indie-progressive-rock band from Mississauga. The Paint Movement is hip—Dee Planche’s vocals and keyboard have a soft, dreamy sound and Jason Loftman’s sax melodies move between smooth jazz and funk. It’s all very subtle and it works.

The last band to take to the stage—the band everyone had been waiting for—was Yukon Blonde. Hailing from Kelowna, but now calling Vancouver home, lead singer Jeff Innes seemed a little disappointed with the turnout and suggested  the audience must not have known The Arkells were playing. “We knew!” responded a few people on the dance floor.

Led by Innes’ clean vocals, and backed up by the harmonies of guitarist Brandon Scott and drummer Graham Jones, the band played songs primarily from their latest EP Fire // Water, and Yukon Blonde (2010). Crowd favourites included “Fire,” “Brides Song,” and “Babies Don’t Like Blue Anymore.” The Paint Movement’s bass player, Jason Haberman, was excellent as a stand-in for Yukon Blonde’s bassist, John Jeffrey, and their sax player complimented the group perfectly for their final song.

Yukon Blonde plays with intense energy with nary a ballad in the mix—everyone was on their feet dancing for their entire set. CBC’s Radio Two Morning host, Tom Power, calls Yukon Blonde one of the best live bands in Canada.

He’s right. Hopefully, next time these guys play Thunder Bay, they’ll have a bigger crowd and will be booked to play a longer set.

When asked the meaning of their name by The Walleye’s photographer, Innes replied that is wasn’t much of a story. Maybe not, but we dug a little deeper and found an explanation online. Apparently “Yukon blonde” is a euphemism or denial of grey hair and when the band heard this, they thought it sounded cool. Fair enough. Maybe it was the cool name that lead to the name drop on the American sitcom How I Met Your Mother, in the context of Justin Beeber and Timbits?