Critically-Acclaimed Musicians Form New Band

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Winnipeg has a new band on the scene. Just don’t judge them by their name. The Panty Apples, as they call themselves, has an impressive pedigree. Featuring the Prairie Music Award-winning talent of Keri McTighe and Shelley Bilewitch of Nathan, bassist Marcia Fifer of Chords of Canada, keyboardist Eve Rice of Vav Jungle and former Heavy Early drummer Sunshine Ackerman, these women are not exactly new to local audiences. As a full-fledge band, however, they will be performing outside Fifer’s basement for the first time on December 6 at The Zoo.

“The Panty Apples was an entity long before it was an actual band,” explains Fifer. “I don't remember where the name came from, but it started as an imaginary girl band that me and Sunshine used to talk about. Although the name got mixed reactions, everybody that heard about it was immediately interested in the band. Our musical girlfriends wanted to be in the band and even the boys offered to don dresses and wigs in order to get in.”

McTighe and Bilewitch met Fifer for the first time at the MARIA BBQ in Toronto for NXNE 2001, though they were already being recognized as members of the band. Six months later, the Apples finally got together. McTighe and Bilewitch brought Rice along and the five began to write songs.

The Apples’ music is quirky, playful pop/rock. While most of the songs will have audiences laughing, the music itself is solid. This is to be expected – even with a side project – from musicians of The Apples’ caliber, although the band seems periodically surprised that the songs actually sound good. Bilewitch and McTighe’s vocal harmonies and electric guitar interplay is as tight as that of the critically-acclaimed Nathan. Ackerman is so energetic a drummer that one wonders if her stool may break. Fifer roots the quintet and shifts between lead and backing vocals while Rice’s experimental keyboard flourishes add a unique twist. To make things even more interesting for their debut, The Apples have enlisted Uptown Magazine Editor Susan Krepart to join in on one song.

While all the members thoroughly enjoy their time with The Apples, their main musical careers do take precedence. McTighe and Bilewitch are going on tour with Nathan a day after Friday’s concert at The Zoo. Rice released Vav Jungle’s third album, Cream Corn Bath , last week while Fifer will be with Chords of Canada early next week for the Endearing Records Christmas Party. Whatever they’re doing, this is only the beginning for The Apples.

“There's something incredibly electric about getting a few fun girls together in a room,” Fifer says. “I mean, it's much different than my experiences playing with boys. For all of us, this is quite different than anything we've done before, so it's quite exciting.”

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