Sled Island: Journey back in time with AMGC
Guitarist and vocalist Bob Keelaghan admits that much of the younger crowd known to grace Sled Island venues will be unfamiliar with the inspiration behind his music.
In fact few of the people that will pack into Broken City on Thursday night for the set from Keelaghan’s band — Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir, commonly known as AMGC for brevity’s sake — were even alive during the era that this foursome pays tribute to.
“This group marginally draws from old blues and country records from the early ’30s, just before World War Two,” Keelaghan said. “Our aim is always to play with the same piss and vinegar as you hear on those records.
“It’s kind of a new thing for a lot of people in the audience or so they tell me anyway. I think that probably separates us from a lot of the indie rock bands.”
Sled Island Spotlight
Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir
Show: Thursday, June 25th @ Broken City — 11:00p.m.
However, just because the music may be from another time, people from all ages have been known to get a little out of hand during an AMGC show.
“There’s usually pretty high energy, we kind of like to play the audience into the ground,” Keelaghan starts, “like to play long sets. Get into the rollercoaster of the twisted roots stuff we do and the audience usually gets pretty into it, lots of dancing, hollering and singing.
Unfortunately it has been quite a rarity to see this raspy quartet perform on hometurf in the past few years as the group has done numerous tours overseas and launched albums Europe.
“Usually the summer is our main touring time. We haven’t done a ton of playing in Calgary in the past few years and now we are really trying to rectify that,” Keelaghan said.
The 54-year-old veteran, who is joined by Judd Palmer — a musical phenom known to play the banjo, low-slide guitar, harmonica, while also lending his vocals and co-writing the AMGC music along with Keelaghan — rampid drummer Peter Balkwill and Vladmir Sobolewski on upright bass, says the group’s reception overseas has been very positive — similar to the support they feel when playing local shows.
“It’s been really good when we have gone over and played in places like England and Ireland . . . I can’t really think of a crappy show over there,” Keelaghan explained. “It’s pretty weird when you go over to England and you look down at the front row and people actually know the words to your songs.”
Despite the group’s frequent ventures to massive summer festivals, playing in front of thousands on outdoor stages, Keelaghan still enjoys the smaller club atmosphere a great deal. AMGC will share the Broken City stage with fellow Alberta groups Rural Alberta Advantage and Ramblin’ Ambassadors in what we be a locally infused evening.
To meet Ramblin’ Ambassadors click here.
“Playing in a small club and having the small crowd in your face dancing and shouting and stuff is kind of fun and you’re often headlining which is great because there is no restrictions time-wise, you can build it into an ecstatic experience.”