Originally from Vulcan, Alberta, The Jack Union was comprised of brothers Sean and Ryan Blanchette on vocals and rhythm guitar, Ken Wanamaker on bass, guitarist Simon Steele, and drummer Ryan Shearer. They formed in the late 1990s fresh out of high school, and before long they were doing covers and playing the southern Alberta circuit.
Over the next year or so, they incorporated heavy, blue-collar rock originals into their sets and with producer Joey Moi, whose resume included Nickelback and Default, among others, released their independent debut album, A FINE MADNESS, in 2001.
By now they were living in Calgary, and had stretched their territory out to include all of western Canada. A video was shot for the single, “I Am,” which got good airplay on radio across the prairies, and particularly from local station CJAY-92. Along with “The Stand,” “Attack of the Mustard Man,” Surf The Freedom,” and “Only One,” it delivered a powerful punch that fuelled some more tour dates off and on for the next couple of years while they worked on a follow-up effort.
They hooked up with manager Norm Wilson and signed a development deal with Sam Feldman & Associates in Vancouver. By now Steele had been replaced on guitars by Buster McCoy, and Nathan Giebelhaus was the new drummer. But sticky legal issues ensued over the use of the name, and they dropped ‘the’ from their title. Produced by McCoy and the band at Calgary’s Yard Dog Studios, their second outing came in the form of the appropriately titled EP in ’04.
No singles were released, but tracks like the lead-off “Moderation,” “Whispering,” and the other four cuts were heavy and melodic, with slick production and a broad appeal. The next year saw them continue their ownership of the prairies, making several stops along the way across Canada. They also found themselves on the bill for The Big A$$ Border Bash in Cold Lake, later hailed as one of the best multi-day rock festivals Alberta had ever seen.
As they tried to work out their legal issues, they continued playing over the next couple of years, but eventually disbanded, and everyone went their separate ways.