After a crazy couple of weeks, things slow down a little bit this week.
Some of the highlights include two chances to see the Drama Nutz. They have some fun with old-time radio shows on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at the NAAG Gallery and they will be doing their uncensored improv show at Ric’s Grill the next night on Nov. 14.
Lethbridge Musical Theatre also begins their run of Peter Pan at the Yates Centre. It opened Nov. 8 and the show runs until Nov. 23. Tickets are $26 for students and seniors and $28 for adults. Ticket Centre fees apply.
Friday, Nov. 15 has a couple of big shows. For rap and pop fans, Josh Martinez comes to the Slice, Nov. 15. If winter weather makes you feel like surfing, don’t miss Winnipeg surf-punk trio the Thrashers who play Bo Diddly’s, Nov. 15 with The Ruby Plumes, the Escorts and Cosmic Charley.
Andrew Scott returns to Lethbridge this week as well, playing the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Nov. 15, with Caleigh Cardinal. The Owl Acoustic Lounge flirts with dance, pop and electronica music, Nov. 16 with Mark Mills and 911 Turbo.
It is a good week for local acts with Bridgette Yarwood playing Ric’s Grill, Nov. 13. And Randy Epp plays the Mocha Cabana with special guest trumpeter Don Robb on Nov. 15 and 16. Meanwhile, Who’s Yer Daddy rock Casino Lethbridge on the weekend as well.
The Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra returns this week as well with their second masters series of the season happening at Southminster United Church, Nov. 18. It features the Chinook Chamber Singers. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m.
Last, but certainly not least, Matthew Good returns to Lethbridge, this time to rock Average Joe’s, Nov. 19. Tickets are $40. The show begins at 9 p.m. with special guests, the Gentleman Husbands. Good is touring on his brand new album Arrows of Desire.
• • •
When a long-term relationship ends, people handle it differently. Some people drink, others move while others throw themselves into work. Five years ago, rapper/hip hop musician Josh Martinez did all of the above. He moved from Vancouver to Portland, Oregon, started drinking heavily, then threw himself into working on several projects including his record label Camobear Music and Publishing and his band the Chicharones and, finally, a new solo album, “Blotto,” the long-awaited followup to his 2008 album “Josh Martinez and the World Famous Sex Buffet.”
“When I focused on it, it took me about six months, but it took five years of looking for those six months to work on it,” Martinez explained from his Portland home, getting ready for the upcoming tour.
He drew inspiration from co-producers, songwriter Sapient and engineer Stuey Kubrick, who helped him with the recording process in Vancouver.
“I usually do it all by myself. I usually record the lyrics where ever I am. I look at it as building a house. The lyrics are the foundation and I build on top of that. This time I was more willing to be coached by two voices I really respect,” he continued, adding they made concrete suggestions about what to cut and what to add. The result is a simpler affair than previous efforts.
“There are a lot less layers of vocals, which is what I used to do,” he said.
“There is a more specific concept to this album,” he said.
He recorded it in Vancouver at a new studio.
“It took way longer than I intended,” he said, adding he was working a lot with his band and with running his record label over that time.
The result has been worth it.
“I’m just excited to go on the road and show people this music.”
The live show is also a lot simpler.
“We’re heading out on the road with a more stripped-down show, with just myself and my DJ. Before I’d have a band and lights and dancers. This time I want to words to speak for themselves and didn’t want to bring a circus,” he said.
“I want it to be a more visceral experience,” he continued.
He played Lethbridge three or four years ago at Henotic in the old firehall.
“It has been a long time so it is nice people haven’t forgotten about me,” he said.
Martinez plays the Slice Nov. 15. Pzeudo and Steezy Ray open the show. There is a $10 cover.
• • •
Winnipeg wouldn’t be the first guess to breed a surf/punk band.
However Winnipeg is home for The Thrashers, who play Bo Diddly’s with The Ruby Plumes, the Escorts and Cosmic Charley, Nov. 15.
“It’s really being from Winnipeg, you’ve got no access to the beach and it’s cold in the winter, so it leaves you a lot of time to use your imagination about where you would rather be,” said guitarist/vocalist Jesse Bercier, taking a break from his day job as an archives clerk.
They blew the roof off the Owl Acoustic Lounge during their last appearance in March.
“That was a lot of fun. I was surprised by the amount of energy the crowd had. People seemed to like us. So we just plan to have a good time,” he said.
They haven’t played much as of late.
“Lately we’ve been pretty quiet. We aren’t playing a lot especially during the summer. The guys work day jobs that have a busy season in the summer,” he said, adding drummer Sean G works as a landscaper while bassist/vocalist Iaian Loeppky works selling spraying equipment for farmers.
They have been blending punk music with old-time rock and roll and a whole lot of surf music for the past six years.
They released an EP “Ramp Locals” last December and their debut CD “Make A Splash” a couple years before that. They are working on a new full length album to be released on vinyl, hopefully next year.
He is excited about playing Lethbridge again.
“The end goal always is to put smiles on peoples’ faces,” he said.
“And the next thing is to expect four or five new songs than we did last time, plus some interesting covers we didn’t do last time.
“It will be fast, loud and more sweaty than last time,” he continued.
The show begins at 9:30 p.m. at Bo Diddly’s. Admission is $5.
Hollerado, Pup, Zolas rock the Slice
I only caught pieces of intense sets of indie rock and pop from the Zolas and Hollerado at the Slice, Nov. 7.
The room was packed and pretty close to sold out.
While I missed a set from Pup, I caught the last half of the Zolas’ quirky, keyboard-powered set of catchy pop and indie rock music.
Most of the room had seen them before and were singing along while bouncing in front of the stage. Former mayor Rajko Dodic was among them and watched intently.
Lead singer Zachery Gray played guitar and sang, then picked up a keyboard and traded keyboard lines with Tom Dobrzanski’s keyboards.
They had a solid backbeat and bone shaking bass. “Ancient Mars” was one of the ambient and upbeat highlights of the show — one of many which had the room singing along.
I also only caught the end on another intense and energetic rock music from Hollerado.
While Rajko Dodic has got up on stage to play with them at their previous two shows, he didn’t this time. “He’s retired, no!” shouted lead singer Menno Versteeg. Nonetheless, Hollerado played their usual energetic, upbeat set of addictive guitar-powered ambient pop-rock with just a touch of punk energy. While the crowd appeared to have thinned out by the time they took the stage, they had most of the feet in the room tapping and lots of bodies shaking.
“We’ve played here five times before and I can’t believe we haven’t played this place,” Versteeg enthused to the rambunctious audience after playing arguably their most popular songm “Philadelphia.”
They had everyone singing along to another poepular nomber, “So It Goes.”
They launched into their last sing-along songs, effortlessly segued into a few bars of ZZ Top’s “La Grange” and, after a brief drum solo, called it a night shortly before midnight.
Hey Romeo at Casino
Edmonton-based country/pop band Hey Romeo made a long-awaited return to Lethbridge to play Casino Lethbridge, Nov. 7. They had a pretty sparse audience, who sat enraptured, though they would cheer some of their bigger hits.
But it was when they played brand new material, some of which they had never played before, that they got people dancing. Their big hit, “I Got Nothing,” sung by guitarist Darren Gusnowsky, was a highlight of the set.
Calgary-based lead vocalist Stacie Roper showed off her magnificent voice, though it was drowned out by the guitar.
Award-winning keyboardist Rob Shapiro showed off his chops, but the keyboards fit perfectly in with all of the other instruments.
They tore into a laid-back medley of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Jackson,” which got the audience warmed up for their first set.
“I Got This” got a couple of couples dancing and a song I think was called “Have a Night” was a highlight which they had never played before.
They also added a few choice covers of the Band’s “Up on Cripple Creek” and a more country version of John Cougar Mellencamp’s ’80s hit “Small Town.”
They ended their first set with another highlight and another brand new song called “Two Hearts.”
Emerson Drive and Amber Bauer at Average Joe’s
Country rock band Emerson Drive sure know how to rock the country.
Their Nov. 7 show at Average Joe’s was eight tickets away from being sold out. It was, but one party didn’t make it.
It didn’t matter to the band, who had heaps of beautiful women clustered in front of the stage singing along with a hit-heavy and exuberant show.
The audience knew every word to their big hit “Moments” and sang enthusiastically along with the band.
“Countrified Soul” and “Good Man” were a couple of many that kept the feet moving, as was “Testify,” one of their gospel-tinged rockers. They didn’t have much to do with traditional country music, but definitely are a fine, not to mention extremely tight, band who provided plenty of big guitars and sing-along melodies backed by an unstoppable beat with their bass-heavy, ear-blistering set.
There weren’t many softer moments in the show as even their many power ballads got an extra shot of octane on stage.
They wound down their set with their latest hit “My Kind of Crazy,” and left the crowd crying out for more.
They eventually returned by adding a little bit of country to the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.”
Opening act Amber Bauer, who toured as Michael Bernard Fitzgerald’s keyboardist, played a beautiful set of pop and indie folk music, even when her keyboards quit working. She had her guitarist to keep the rhythm, though. She improvised and sang a big version of “Something to Talk About.”
When she got her power back, she made her organ sing stunningly, reminding me a little of Grace Potter.
She sang plenty of original music including “Buy Your Tears,” which she co-wrote with George Canyon. Her massive voice belied her tiny stature as she stood hidden behind a keyboard and an organ.
Steve Huscroft and JJ at the Owl
Calgary musician JJ Shiplett entertained a respectable Thursday night audience at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Nov. 7. He played a powerful set of singer-songwriter material, bellowing out lyrics and strongly strumming his acoustic guitar. His music just begged for a backing band, so they really shone when headliner Daniel Huscroft joined him on stage to play guitar and a drummer joined him for his last song “I Just Want to Ride.”
They just clicked together. Unfortunately I missed Huscroft’s set.
Papa King at the Owl
Papa King and friends were in a blue mood at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Saturday, Nov. 2.
I caught their second set which included King, seated at the front of the stage, singing a fine collection of blues classics and originals like a hot version of “I’m Ready” which drew a lot of dancers to the front of the stage.
Dil Jopp, also seated on a stool to the side, laid back and grooved on the bass as Tyler Bird was playing the drum rhythms on a keyboard.
Darryl Düus played tasteful leads while bobbing up and down and also sang a couple of songs including an excellent version of Hound Dog Taylor‘s “Give Me Back my Wig.”
Papa King, as always, sang in his big, gruff, Dr. John-style baritone. His original “Buy Boy Blues” was one of my favourites as was his new song “500 Horses” about trucking, which ended their set.
• • •
Winnipeg blues/rock trio the Perpetrators are always a pleasure to see and rock out to and were exactly as expected, Saturday, Nov. 2 at the Slice for a good-sized crowd.
The trio, featuring frontman/lead guitarist Jason Nowicki, bassist Johnny Scoles and special guest Grant Stovel on drums, played an array of songs from throughout the Perpetrators’ career, and added some excellent songs from their brand new CD “Stick ’Em Up.”
While a lot of Perpetrators songs sound familiar, they fit as comfortably like an old slipper; for example, the new country tinged song “Sweetgrass” sounds a lot like “Josco,” a song from a few years ago that the Perpetrators wrote in honour of Johnny Scoles, who owns their regular Winnipeg haunt the Times Changed.
So throughout there was plenty of gutsy, rough, raw and rock and roll-edged guitar that would make Hound Dog Taylor smile down from Heaven. Nowicki is a perfect frontman, Stovel grinned like a madman, pounding on the skins and Scoles was lost in his groove.
They had a lot of people dancing in front of the stage and in some cases, “singing along.”
“10,000 MIles” was a highlight of the first set, which concentrated on older material.
Some of the newer songs were highlights like “Tired of Trying to Keep My Cool.”
They ended the first of three sets with my all time favourite Perpetrators’ songs “Six Pack.”
I only caught a couple songs from their second set, which included “Bad Man,” form the new CD and the slower “Stay Strong.”
The third set was off the hook, as they played a variety of more upbeat blues including “Crack Whore Blues.”
Nowicki wound things down by dedicating crowd favourite “Malt Liquor” to the band’s original bassist Ryan Menard.
They ended the night around 2 a.m. with another crowd favourite, “Smokes N’ Chicken.”
NAAG — Drama Nutz Flop or Funny Olde Time Radio night
Ric’s Grill — Bridgette Yarwood
Owl Acoustic Lounge — L.A Beat open jam
Slice — Craig Cardiff
Ric’s Grill —Drama Nutz Nutz Unshelled improv comedy night
Bo Diddly — The Escorts, Cosmic Charley, The Thrashers, The Ruby Plumes
Mocha Cabana — Randy Epp with Don Robb
Casino Lethbridge — Who’s Yer Daddy
Slice — Josh Martinez
Jimmy’s Pub — open jam
Lethbridge Folk Club — open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Andrew Scott with Caleigh Cardinal
Mocha Cabana — Randy Epp with Don Robb
Ric’s Grill — TBA
Casino Lethbridge — Who’s Yer Daddy
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Mark Mills, 911 Turbo, Viking Tell?
Slice — Greg MacPherson
Owl Acoustic Lounge — open mic with Sweet Lourday
Southminster United Church 7:30 p.m. Masters Series II Chinook Chamber Singers Rolf Boon Adagio for Strings
Joseph Haydn Symphony No. 88 in G Major, Hob. I:88
Lord Nelson Mass, Hob. XXII: 11
Average Joe’s — Matthew Good
Slice — open mic
NAAG — uncensored improv with the Drama Nutz
Ric’s Grill — Sheldon Arvay and Scott Kanashiro
Owl Acoustic LOunge — L.A Beat open jam with Devon Coyote
Mocha Cabana — Riviera Paradise
Casino Lethbridge — DNR
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Cosmic Charley with the Delawares 9:30 p.m.
Casino Lethbridge — DNR
Mocha Cabana — Riviera Paradise
Legends — Billie Vegas
Bo Diddly’s — The Reason with Thee Attacks $20 9 p.m.
Ric’s Grill — Cal Toth
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Diettsaron
Studio 54 — Sonreal, Transit and Rise $15