BY FATEEMA SAYANI
Singer-songwriter Slo’ Tom Stewart and his band The Handsome Devils released a video for the song Family in the Mansion on Parliament Hill, in mid-September. The song is a gentle jab at politics and excess, a jaunty bit of civic engagement urging people to get out and vote.
Stewart has long been a part of the Ottawa music scene with dad band Hey! Buster, metal band Manpower, and legendary back-in-the-day indie band Furnaceface. His Handsome Devils are Rey Sabatin Jr., Rob Snasdell-Taylor, and Jon Kiely. Here, some fun facts about this bluegrassy jam.
The band takes a country music trope and turns it on its head, taking into account the Centennial Flame and the big manicured lawn in a tune about apathy and indulgence.
“There are a million traditional country songs about a mansion on the hill,” Stewart says. “In these songs, there’s always a millionaire who is brokenhearted or a family that is rich, but has no love — that kind of thing. Rey Sabatin [Thomas Mulcair in this video] wrote the tune. He is playing on this classic theme brilliantly by making Parliament the mansion and the four leaders the family.”
It’s a damn catchy call-out that urges people to vote – and Elizabeth May is not left out. She’s played by Handsome Devil Rob “Chops” Snasdell-Taylor in this video, while Jon Kiely is Trudeau, and Stewart is Harper.
There’s humour, discontent, protest — all delivered with jangly group harmonies.
The song is from the forthcoming album Gov’t Town, which is about living in this fair city. Songs such as “One Way Street,” “It’s a Condo Now,” and “2 a.m. Elgin Street,” give a sense of what’s to come.
The band had been laying tracks earlier this year. When the election was called, they put this tune at the top of their schedule and shot the video in a weekend with Hey Buster’s Sherwood Lumsden.
Stewart says the video is meant to be non-partisan. It’s a gentle, humorous poke at the entitlement and elitism of all politicians.
“With the plea at the end calling for people to vote, it’s really more of a public service announcement than a political statement — plus, it’s funny,” Stewart says. “The Handsome Devils want people to vote.”