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Peak Performance winner Rykka to pay first visit

Posted on November 27, 2013 by Lethbridge Sun Times

This week slows right down for touring musicians; luckily there is plenty of local talent ready to rock in December this week.

Just announced, Swiss-Canadian Vancouver-based electro-pop/rock singer Rykka and her band will be playing Average Joe’s, Nov. 30. She just won the 2013 Peak Performance Project contest and took home the $102,700 grand prize to help her further her career.

The Peak Performance Project is a program sponsored by Vancouver radio station 102.3 The Peak to support up-and-coming B.C. musicians.

Pop/R and B/rap/reggae star Shaggy brings the Out of Many, One Music Canadian tour to Average Joe’s, Nov. 28. He is touring on his new CD, “Out of Many, One of Music,” with Tayvon. Tickets are $40. The show begins at 9 p.m.

James Oldenburg has several shows this week including Wednesday, Nov. 27 at Ric’s Grill and his new regular Thursday gig in the Cotton Blossom Lounge, Nov. 28.

There are also lots of open mics this week including the regulars on Monday and Wednesday at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, The Slice’s regular Tuesday open mic and a new open mic at Inferno. There is also a new open mic at Smokehouse beginning Nov. 30. And Studio 54 has their Saturday afternoon open mic as well.

Steve Keenan hosts a blues jam at Honkers on Friday, Nov. 29.

If you like jazz music, the Herb Hicks Jazz Quartet with Sheena Lawson are at the Mocha Cabana on Friday and Saturday.

If you want to rock, Lethbridge stoner rock trio DIRT return to the Slice, Nov. 29.

Also in the rock vein, the Owl Acoustic Lounge features Calgary-based dirty rock band Naplampom with betterhalf.

Country music fans have Lori Kole at Casino Lethbridge, Nov. 29 and Nov. 30, while more alt country tastes will be satiated by Calgary’s Mercury Audio, who play the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Nov. 29.

Last but not least, The Bryant Watson duo will be playing roots and pop music at Ric’s Grill, Nov.30.

Things have changed for Rykka, who says winning the 2013 Peak Performance Project contest “was a pretty crazy experience. It was an honour to share that stage.” She has released three previous albums under her given name Christina Maria.

She noted they had to complete a number of challenges, including making a video, working with charity, making a business plan and spending a $3,000 grant wisely. They also had to attend a boot camp.

“My life has changed a lot from the Peak. It really has been a lot of work, but I enjoy work. It’s good to be busy,” said Rykka, who has been in the music business for the past 11 years.

“Especially at the boot camp. We had two seminars in the morning, then lunch, then two different seminars in the afternoon. Then at night we’d have showcases or we’d be recording. But I left with lifelong friends from the people I met there,” she enthused.

She has just released her CD “Kodiak,” which is a collection of songs written from the perspective of different animals. She spent a year working on the album, which was released in May to positive reviews. Her song “Blackie” was featured in the TV show “Rookie Blue” and the album made the charts in July.

“The music turned out so different, I decided to change my name, too,” she laughed.

“The new music is different. It’s more driving and more rocking,” she said.

The charity she connected with for the Peak program was the David Suzuki Foundation, with the theme to get people thinking about nature.

Her music and video, entitled “Nature Rocks!,” is designed to get people out into nature.

“With the David Suzuki Foundation, the idea was to get people mentally into nature. Nature Rocks! was to get people physically out into nature,” she explained, adding it is a recent interest of hers.

“Kodiak” has songs about deep sea fish, migration and some individual animals like crows on “Blackie.”

“I just started writing a lot of songs and they just came out that way and I added more and more of them,” she said.

This will be her first visit to Lethbridge.

“I like touring Alberta. I was just there in June. So I’m excited about it. I’ve never been to Lethbridge before,” she said.

“I’ll be touring there as a duo. I play keyboards with one hand and drums with the other. And I have a guitarist. I have a different guitarist (Carl Janzen). We’ll bring the full band later,” she said.

“But I toured Europe this year as a duo. We played about 70 shows. So I feel it’s good,” she said.

She plays Average Joe’s Nov. 30.


I almost forgot Devon Coyote and drummer/bassist D‘Arcy Booth, who also plays in the Unknown Culprits, were playing at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Wednesday, Nov. 20, despite plugging it in last week’s column.

I was glad I stopped by after my Wednesday night radio show on CKXU, because winter makes me want to hear the blues.

As expected the Kelowna-based duo delivered in spades, making enough noise worthy of a full band.

Coyote alternated between a Stratocaster, a 12-string, an acoustic guitar and an old National-style guitar he played on his lap, while tapping out a rhythm on a tambourine set at his feet. Even more impressively, Booth not only held a steady drum beat with his feet, but also added intricate bass line for some songs and tasteful extra guitar for other. The duo showed a diverse set of influences ranging from raunchy blues, mostly played on the slide guitar, to more countryish singer-songwriter music. He shone on his blues songs, though his more funk and R and B-inspired numbers were also ear worms.

They had a good-sized crowd applauding appreciatively after each one. There was also a lot more funk in this show, especially on songs from their brand new EP “Broken Down.”

He added a whole whack of effects to his 12-string, which added resonance and volume to his music.

“Broken Man Blues” was a highlight as it had a lot of people dancing in front of the stage. His Tracy Chapman cover “Give Me One Reason” was another highlight.

He slowed things right down with an epic version of Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer” which he made his own with a beautiful guitar solo.

Matthew Good made a long-awaited return to Lethbridge, Nov. 19 to play a close to sold-out show at Average Joe’s. Opening act the Gentleman Husbands couldn’t make it due to the highway being closed. So Good observed, “We’re not going anywhere because the highway is closed.”

He opened with “Arrows of Desire,” the title track of his brand new CD. Unlike the last show a couple years ago, which had people crammed into the room uncomfortably close together, which must have contributed to the problems, there were no show-stopping loogans at this one, though one was taken out by security near the end of the show. Good noted that he “couldn’t see s—t” without his glasses and may not have noticed them this time as last time he stopped his show to curse at the group of people fighting. Instead, as he promised in his interview with me last week, he provided a “communal experience” for the good-sized and seemingly good-natured crowd, who were receptive to his set which mostly consisted of tracks from his new CD, “Arrows of Desire.”

His set included some classics and lots of his more rocking material including my favourite, “Everything is Automatic,” his first hit from back in 1997. He did notice the technical difficulties at the beginning of the show and good-naturedly cursed out his sound man about getting his monitors working properly, before wishing him a happy birthday.

While they were waiting for that, they played a few bars of “Walk Hard,” the theme from the movie “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,” which pokes fun at all the things that can go wrong in the life and career of a touring musician. He went back to the set list after that by playing crowd-pleasing hit “Load Me Up” and got crowd singing most of it, as he observed he couldn’t hear anything going on without the monitors, though they still sounded pretty tight.

“Born Losers” from Hospital Music was early in the set as was a 2004 hit “Alert Status Red.”

Highlights from the new CD included punk-tinged crowd favourite “Had it Coming,” “So Close,” “Long Gone,” and “Hey Hell Heaven,” which segued into “Everything is Automatic.”

He switched between several guitars including a blonde Gibson 335, a Telecaster, a Stratocaster and a Gibson SG for “Hey Hell Heaven” and “Everything is Automatic.”

He ended his show with several of his more mellow, ambient songs including a new one “Letters in Wartime” from the new CD. Good and the band began the encore with “Gardens of Desire” from the new CD, then played a few more before calling it a night with “Giant.” While he played a lot of hits, he didn’t play a lot of others including “Hello Time Bomb” but included “Apparition,” which was the second encore song.

Thrashers pay a visit

Winnipeg surf-punk trio the Thrashers are always a pleasure to hear. They are all about fun; unfortunately they didn’t have a lot of people out at Studio 54, Nov. 15. They had approximately 70 people there to see a solid show which included performances by the Escorts, local band Cosmic Charley and the Ruby Plumes, who closed off the show.

The Thrashers played energetic, hot, sweaty surf punk, including new songs, songs from their most recent EP “Ramp Locals” and older songs, plus a few choice covers like “Yakkety Yak.” There were plenty of frenetic, twangy single-note melodies and an unstoppable rolling drum rhythm.

Their instrumentals sounded like a blend of Dick Dale and Shadowy Men From a Shadowy Planet, while their vocals sounded like a mix of the Dickies and the Beastie Boys.

One of my many favourites was “We Hate This” from their latest EP. As was “Kinkies, Betties and Beer.”

“Sea Monster” was a highlight and they brought up a couple members of the Escorts to scream along with the chorus of the catchy “Shark Attack.”

They ended up with a blisteringly fast ‘Beach Party.’

Cosmic Charley played a strong set of funk-tinged original rock. It seemed a little more straight-ahead rock then previous shows. They played a few new songs as well a some old favourites.

I missed sets by the Escorts, who opened the show, and the Ruby Plumes’ closing set.

Andrew Scott and Caleigh Cardinal returned to the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Nov. 15. The set I heard was mostly cover songs. Cardinal sang a very cool version of Peggy Lee’s “Fever” though it was a lot faster than it is supposed to be. She showed off her big, bluesy, jazz-tinged voice throughout.

Scott added ukulele and guitar as needed and also sang covers as well as a few originals.

Josh Martinez at the Slice

Lethbridge is a tough town to put on a show.

I was expecting a lot more people to see Vancouver-raised, Portland, Oregon-based pop/R and B star Josh Martinez at the Slice, Nov. 15.

There were several opening acts as well but perhaps 20 people to see them.

Martinez was having a lot of fun, though. Just because he could, he sang appealing melodies and danced around the stage, all the while balancing a cup of water on the top of his head.

He alternated between rapping and singing with quite a bit of soul. While I’m not that familiar with his music, his set, which wound up his latest tour, included several tracks from his latest CD “Blotto,” as well as audience favourite “I’m Just a Dude,” which wound down his show.

I was fixated on the water glass, though. But he didn’t even spill a drop, not even while dancing on one foot. He stopped keeping track at 10 minutes, after which he put his glass on the DJ’s table and had a swig.

Nov. 27

Ric’s Grill — James Oldenburg

Owl Acoustic Lounge — L.A BEat open jam

Nov. 28

Average Joe’s — Shaggy $40 9 p.m.

Inferno — open mic

Cotton Blossom Lounge — James Oldenburg 6-8 p.m.

Nov. 29

Mocha Cabana — Herb Hicks Jazz Quartet with Sheena Lawson

Casino Lethbridge — Lori Kole

Owl Acoustic Lounge — Mercury Audio

Honkers — Open mic with Steve Keenan 8 p.m.

Jimmy’s Pub — open mic’ Wolf’s Den—open mic

Slice — DIRT

Nov. 30

Studio 54 — open mic 2-6 p.m.

Smokehouse — Open mic

Casino Lethbridge — Lori Kole

Mocha Cabana — Herb Hicks Jazz Quartet with Sheena Lawson

Yates/Sterndale Bennett Theatre-American Idiot the Musical cancelled

Ric’s Grill — Bryant Watson Duo

Slice — Napalmpom with Betterhalf

Average Joe’s — Rykka

Dec. 2

Owl — open mic

Dec. 3

Slice — open mic

Casa — Jesse Plessis 8 p.m. Bach, Beethoven and Radiohead

Dec. 4

Owl Acoustic Lounge — L.A. Beat Open jam

Slice — Washboard Hank with Lance Loree $10

Dec. 5

Inferno— open mic

Dec. 6

Jimmy’s Pub — open mic with Driving While Blind

Mocha Cabana — Dale Ketcheson

Casino Lethbridge — Soup Of Flies

Southminster United Church — Huron Carole with George Canyon and more

Average Joe’s — Yuk Yuks Comedy with Sam Easton, Jeff Kubik and Randy Webb

Wolf’s Den — bluegrass jam

Honkers — blues jam with Steve keenan

Dec. 7

Mocha Cabana — Karen Romanchuk

Ric’s Grill — TBA

Casino Lethbridge — Soup Of Flies

Owl Acoustic Lounge — Savk with the Jung People

Inferno — Machine Gun Kelly with Johnny Dilemma

Studio 54 — open mic 2 p.m.

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