Strange Potatoes
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Strange Potatoes

Band Comedy Celtic

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PUB SPUDS: Good For What Ales You!

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They will tell you that band Strange Potatoes was completely created by accident. Remarkably this is true, but it was quite a serendipitous chance meeting indeed that brought these three individuals together. It’s not simply that their voices and playing style meld so seamlessly together but it’s their formidable presence on and off stage that hints of a marketing ploy.

On the surface you might think you can quickly spot the roles… the smart one, the funny one and the cute one… look a little deeper and you’ll see a wealth of impressive qualities that bond these three friends in a shared and complimentary relationship of talent, energy and attitude.

Clearly it’s John Miller (Frites Mashed) that is first to impress fans as the “musician” and the “smart” one. His effortless and relaxed virtuosity on a complete arsenal of instruments that includes, fiddle, penny whistles, flutes, squeeze box, guitar, harmonica and percussion is as fun to watch as it is to listen to. He brings a wealth of musical styles and experience from the myriad of bands he has fronted from Jazz to Reggae. Not one to shy a way from a good taunting, John’s wry wit can be heard in is droll commentary and his hilarious original songs…the often assumed reserved one of the trio, will on occasion leap from the stage instrument in hand for pure shock appeal. His smooth a relaxed lead vocal is the cornerstone of much of the bands swing, blues, country and Celtic material.

Often dubbed “Pretty Boy”, Derek McLean (Julienne au Grautin) is a most unassuming “cute” one. A singer/songwriter and accomplished solo performer it’s his voice as much as his looks that tend to set him apart from the others. His large vocal range and enormous repertoire is a great factor in the bands immense flexibility. Derek is often found taking the lead on everything from Classic Rock, to Alternative as well as traditional ballads and pop standards. Along with his strong vocal skills comes very solid guitar chops as he easily negotiates his acoustic guitar through genres more accustomed to electric guitar and even keyboards. Derek’s cheeky sarcasm and cheerful cut ups are a huge part of the non-stop Strange Potatoes charm.

Although Miller and McLean get their equal share of laughs it’s often John Eaton (Idaho Baked) that gets called the “funny” one. You could say that his major contribution to the band can be expressed quite simply with the word “timing”. As a bass player his solid meter tends to be the heartbeat of the group. Despite the many varied styles of play he’s called upon to emulate… from reggae to rock, from Celtic to country it all has an undeniable groove. It’s about timing with the bands stage presence too… with an amazing “gift of the gab” it’s his non-stop banter on stage that glues all of the bands songs, jokes and stories together. The architect of band shtick and a champion of “the segue”, his often self-deprecating humour belies a slick improvisational style that ropes the audience in both as a whole and as individual participants in the show. John will often handle the vocals on retro 80’s tunes, rockin’ oldies and country classics.

The most integral of “personalities” in any Strange Potatoes show is the audience. The interaction that goes on between the individuals on stage and their audience is the truly unique factor that sets the band apart. All three members are out and out committed to those people who have graced them with being there. For that reason no two Strange Potatoes shows will ever be the same. You will never find a Strange Potatoes set list. Strange Potatoes do not show up with a pre-packaged list of songs. Each performance is an improvised live score set to no agenda. While always keeping completely in line with the atmosphere their client wants to create, they still enable the audience to pace and guide the type of show that they want to participate in.

On stage you can see and feel in Strange Potatoes the sense of fun and self-assuredness that comes with the mutual faith and respect they share in each other’s abilities to time after time “fly with out net”. This kind of reckless joy is undoubtedly infectious and can be seen regularly in the many smiles, laughs and foot tapping joy of their audiences.