Double dates for Cuff the Duke

Cuff the Duke take a break from frolicking in the woods.
Cuff the Duke take a break from frolicking in the woods.
Photo courtesy of

Concert Preview:Cuff the Duke @ The Grad Club, Sept. 29 & 30

Do you love the populist euphoria of the Aberdeen street party, but hate all the unnecessary violence and nasty aggression? Well, I suggest you head on over to The Grad Club this Thursday and Friday to experience the fist-pumping frenzy that is Cuff the Duke.

Kingston has always had a hard-on for Cuff the Duke’s alt-country pop and epic twang. That love is reciprocated by the band, who made their feelings most evident at a show last year when singer Wayne Petti declared Kingston to be “the fifth member of Cuff the Duke.” Since they’re hanging around our town for two nights instead of just one this week, we thought we’d return the favour by adopting the band as honorary Kingstonians. Now, with all the recent attention they’ve been getting from the release of their self-titled sophomore record, let’s hope Cuff the Duke will still remember the fans who have been there from the start.

Judging from a phone conversation with Petti from his home in Toronto, the band’s recent success doesn’t appear to have gone to the scrawny singer’s head one bit.

“I’m still really excited about everything,” he said. “I can’t believe this is happening. When you first start a band, you don’t have many supporters telling you that you can do it, so you just work your ass off and make a lot of sacrifices,” he said.

When Cuff the Duke was released on Hayden’s Hardwood Records in July, the band were once again darlings of the Canadian music press. Building on their reputation from their debut and their subsequent years of touring, they scored a cover story in Exclaim! magazine and even received coverage in Maclean’s, the National Post and the Globe and Mail.

“We’ve sacrificed a lot of things personally and financially to be able to do this,” he said. “So it’s just incredibly rewarding right now.

“The shows have been bigger than ever,” he added, “but we don’t take any of it for granted. I mean, these are college students who are spending their hard-earned money on us and that’s something to be appreciated.” Cuff the Duke deserve every bit of success they’re getting, because there aren’t many bands who’ve worked harder than they have. No one would question that despite their young career, they’ve paid more than their share of dues, criss-crossing this country countless times opening for the likes of Hayden, Sloan, The Sadies, and Joel Plaskett. They’ve suffered the typical Canadian touring war stories of broken-down vans, Albertan blizzards and basically being broke all of the time. And yet, they can’t seem to get enough.

“We haven’t sold a ton of records and we’re not getting much mainstream coverage, so it’s kind of cool that this can actually work,” Petti said of how his band built their fan base by playing tons (and tons) of shows and garnering a reputation for giving their all every single night. Cuff the Duke are where they are today because of their dedication to playing live.

“All you can do is try to put on the best show that you can, every night,” he said. “The key is to try to be consistent and to [be] appreciative of the show—like, if it’s a packed house, be appreciative that people genuinely want to see your band play.”

Since the release of their refreshing debut record—Life Stories For Minimum Wage in 2002—which sent music critics scrambling for superlatives to describe this new and exciting gang of cow-punks from Oshawa, Cuff the Duke has toured the country incessantly. As the title of their debut album suggests, Cuff the Duke possess a working man’s ethic towards their trade. “The nice thing about being a band our size is that the way we’ve grown has allowed us to meet [our fans], befriend them and be able to genuinely express our appreciation for their support.”

With the success of their second album and a rapidly growing throng of rabid supporters, Cuff the Duke is now big enough to play at a larger venue in the city. So why, when it would obviously be more economical to do a single show somewhere else, are they playing two at The Grad Club?

“Well, Virginia [Clark, The Grad Club’s manager] is a great person to work with,” he said. “But, I also just love the vibe in that place. It’s always a great time there, and maybe next time when we come to town, we’ll have to do it somewhere bigger, so this is a great way to—potentially—do a send-off to The Grad Club by doing two really fun shows.”

Cuff the Duke Takes the K-Town Challenge

Since the Duke boys have always expressed their deep appreciation for the love our town has shown them since they first started playing here, we here at the Journal thought it would be cool to test their knowledge of the Limestone City. Maybe we’ll adopt them as honorary citizens:

1) Name three movies starring Dan Aykroyd (one point for each correct answer).

Wayne Petti: Ghostbusters, The Blues Brothers, Coneheads

Score = 3 points

2) Name three hockey players, past or present, from Kingston (one point for each correct answer).

WP: Doug Gilmour, Don Cherry, “Fuck, I know more ... dammit! I wish Jeff was here, he’s good with this stuff.”

Score = 2 points 3.) Name three bands from Kingston, aside from The Tragically Hip (one point for each correct answer).

WP: Tomate Potate, Sarah Harmer, Luther Wright and the Wrongs.

(Wayne knows better than anyone else that The Inbreds are actually from his hometown of Oshawa.)

Score = 3 points

With a final score of eight points out of a possible nine, the Journal officially declares Cuff the Duke adopted Kingstonians. We’re still waiting on word from Mayor Rosen on whether they’ll be getting keys to the city.

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