Basking in the Sunparlour

Kinda in the middle of nowhere, but also smack-dab at the centre of the Trans-Canada Highway, Sault Ste. Marie enjoys a unique position in Canada’s grand landscape. Our surroundings, while glorious and inspiring in its majesty, can also feel rather isolating. It’s possibly both the beauty and solitude of the region that stimulates the massive out-pour of diverse creativity seen within our humble community. Unfortunately, in order for our gifted musicians, artists and writers to excel, many feel the need to migrate to larger centres. But that’s OK. Our Momma’s taught us to share. Just as long as they remember where they’re from and visit often.

Although there is a regrettable amount of out-migration by the Sault’s talented young people, we have a distinct advantage over most other cities, at least in Ontario. It’s impossible for a band to tour Canada (by motor vehicle, anyway) from coast to coast and NOT pass through Sault Ste. Marie. Because of this, the number of indie, up-and-coming, and just plain awesome Canadian acts that regularly perform here can be overwhelming at times. Some of them play here numerous times a year. One of those acts that I make a point of never missing is the Sunparlour Players.

Based in the Greater Toronto Area, Andrew Penner, Dennis Van Dine, and Michael “Rosie” Rosenthal are quite possibly three of the sweetest, most dedicated, and creative individuals one could ever hope to encounter. The Sunparlour Players’ sound is a peculiar and remarkable blend of roots, gospel, and rock wrapped in folk sensibilities played with a punk attitude. It’s grand, and touching, and sincere at its core. The Sunparlour Players live verge on spectacle – it doesn’t just move you, but grabs you by the face and makes you a believer.

A believer in what? Well, that’s up to the listener. And that’s the best part.

I recently had the pleasure of catching the Sunparlour Players in the Sault twice within 24 hours. The first, a raucous, night-time, sweaty, and intense club show. The second, an intimate, laid-back, acoustic afternoon house concert. Both very different but equally enjoyable. Pictured below is Andrew Penner taken at the evening performance.

Please, for the love of everything that is great and good in the world, check them out next time they roll through your own. Hug them before the show – they sweat A LOT on stage. Buy their CDs and listen repeatedly – your soul will thank you. Sample their homemade handsome strong mustard – your sandwich will thank you.

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