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Alberta’s finest

Wedding singers turned punk-country rockers, The Uncas promise madness Monday at the Boot

Who: The Uncas

Where: The Boot Pub

When: Monday, Aug. 23

The boys of The Uncas, an Alberta band named after its town of origin, aren’t really sure how to describe their music.

"I don’t know what I’d describe it as. It’s really odd," said Sook Uncas, who performs vocals and plays guitar, bass, harmonica and drum steel with his brother Futch and three other band-mates, all with similarly diverse and eclectic musical talents.

"We’ve got four different song writers working, right? So... we’ve got a song with a reggae-dub intro part, we’ve got songs that are just completely A Cappella , and then we’ve got songs that are almost like swing or jazz or something. But it all just comes from a country sort-of background. I think the punk thing comes in just because of our show and the way we carry on…"

What they are sure of, however, is their ability to create mayhem come show time.

"Make sure they’re prepared for madness," Sook warned. "We promise to be crazy if nothing else."

The boys are known for cartwheeling and jumping around on stage, for hanging from the rafters, and for their affinity for power tools.

"Sometimes when I get a little bit out of hand I find something to climb," explains Sook. "I’ve got a string of bouncers around Western Canada here who don’t really like me that much. It gets crazy sometimes.

"And we like cutting stuff up on stage too. So… if anyone wants to bring some wood… because this whole cutting up guitars thing can be kind-of expensive. Wood is the cheapest and most non-violent thing for us to destroy."

The band began innocently enough. According to Sook, the boys learned to play some instruments and got into the lucrative wedding reception business for the "good money and pretty girls." After a few years they decided they were having more fun playing their own stuff than George Straight and Shania Twain, apparently Alberta wedding favourites. So the boys took their versatile, high-energy gig to Edmonton where they found fame, or something like it.

"We’ve had all kinds of stuff, we’ve been flashed, and there was this one guy in Canmore one time, he had a milk crate and he was dancing all night with a milk crate on his head," Sook reminisced.

The Uncas have appeared across Western Canada, including at Vancouver’s Festival of Guns and at the Calgary Stampede. With eclectic influences such as Ween, Johnny Cash, The Band and the (early) Rolling Stones, their twangy punk-country tunes combined with their infamous stage antics seem to please the crowd.

"We have a great time playing every night. No matter what the room is like, no matter who’s there, we just love playing the songs and we love playing together and we get crazy and we party, and (the crowd) seems to love that. We’re just trying to have fun," Sook said.

The Uncas will be tearing up the stage (and then some) on Aug. 23 at the Boot Pub’s weekly live music night, Monday Madness.