‘Rolling Oyster Revue’ not just a name

P.E.I. pop band Paper Lions combines music, food and culture for a tour like no other

Who would win in a fight, paper cranes or Paper Lions? Supplied

The best way to think about Paper Lions’ Rolling Oyster Revue tour is as a recipe: it’s going to be one half delicious, thoughtful pop music and one half delicious oysters.

The band will be hosting an oyster shucking party before each show on their tour. This is a chance for the oyster-minded individual to relax among his or her own kind.

“We’ll send the word out to the people who are planning on coming to meet at somebody’s house in each city before the show and have a few beers and shuck some oysters and enjoy a little of the East Coast,” says John MacPhee, singer and guitarist with the Prince Edward Island pop quartet.

The whole oyster thing started a few years ago when two of the band members, Dave Cyrus MacDonald and Colin Buchanan, were working at an oyster farm in P.E.I.

They grew to love the Maritimes delicacy for both its taste and social potential.

“It had a pretty organic beginning,” MacPhee says. “He (Dave) threw a box of oysters in the van a couple of tours ago, and it ended up being this really bizarre hit. He would be shucking them outside the van before and after shows just for the bands we were playing with and some friends that came to the shows.

(Dave) threw a box of oysters in the van a couple of tours ago, and it ended up being this really bizarre hit.

John MacPhee, Paper Lions

“It was the hit of the tour,” he continues. “We found it really got us out of the typical conversations.”

But the shelled foodstuffs also signify something more profound.

MacPhee says that in the past few years, and especially since the release of Trophies in 2010, the members of Paper Lions overcame their youthful resentment of island living.

“We’ve really started to get a new appreciation for the island, and not even necessarily just the good things that it brings but the entire package that is growing up and living on Prince Edward Island,” MacPhee says.

“We’ve really been digging into our youth and seeing it in a much more positive light and really embracing all the positive effects that it had on us that we’re only now realizing.”

Home seems to be a key word for this band. It’s also a premium commodity at the moment.

Paper Lions just finished a month-long residency at Supermarket in Toronto where they played weekly shows while composing new material and traveling Ontario between their urban gigs.

“It’s a music lover’s dream come true,” MacPhee says of the stay.

Everything considered, MacPhee says the band will have had about two weeks with family and friends by the time they leave on tour. It’s a delicate balance, but he thinks they’re going to be in prime condition.

“If you’re home too short everyone gets a little cranky and wants to spend a little more time with family and friends, but on the other hand if you stay home too long you get too comfortable and you get a little rusty, musically,” MacPhee says.

Published in Volume 66, Number 8 of The Uniter (October 19, 2011)

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