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Tenore bringing the Christmas spirit to Lethbridge

Posted on December 11, 2013 by Lethbridge Sun Times

Things are starting to slow down again in Lethbridge again, but there are several local shows worth checking out, most of them early next week.

But this week, The Highway 3 Roots Revue Tour featuring the music of southern Albertan musicians Dave McCann, John Wort Hannam and Leeroy Stagger begin their annual winter tour of Alberta with stops in Lethbridge, Coleman, Calgary and Edmonton. The tour begins at the Slice, Dec. 12.

They will be playing their own songs and playing on each other’s songs. Tickets are $20. The show will begin at 8 p.m.

The Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra has something special for their third Masters series show of the season — they are bringing the world-renowned musical “Les Miserables” to the Southminster United Church. A fantastic cast of 40 including talented performers like Jessica Ens, Mark Campbell, George Gallant, David Mikuliak and Jordana Kohn (appearing courtesy of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association) will be performing the musical based on the Victor Hugo Novel. It is set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, “Les Misérables” tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption — a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit.

Ex-convict Jean Valjean is hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever. It features the songs “I Dreamed A Dream,” “Bring Him Home,” “One Day More” and “On My Own.”

It runs in Lethbridge at the Southminster United Church Dec. 16-18. The show begins at 8 p.m. each night. Tickets are going fast.

If you missed the Junkman’s Choir this past week and playing for the Lethbridge Folk Club on Saturday, Dec. 7, catch them Dec. 14 at the Owl Acoustic Lounge.

The Owl also features George Arsene and Tyler Bird, playing roots and country music, Dec. 13.

If you want to rock on the weekend you want to be at the Slice. CKXU has their annual Christmas party on Friday, Dec. 13 with Santa and local bands playing their own takes on popular Christmas carols and much more.

And There is a big local rock show at the Slice, Dec. 14, featuring Johnny G and the Spots playing psychedelic rock plus the Ruby Plumes, the Yeah Dads and an excellent brand new alternative rock trio called Advertisement. Tickets are $5 in advance, $8 at the door.

There are a several excellent shows early in the week beginning, Monday, Dec. 16 when Vancouver circus rock/folk band Blackberry Wood returns to the Slice.

If you want to get into the Christmas spirit, Tenore will do the trick at the Evangelical Free Church, Dec. 17 with the Lethbridge Choir.

The show is 7-9 p.m. at the Evangelical Free Church (4717 24 Avenue South). Tickets are $15 advance, $20 at the door $10 children 14 and under.

Tenore will bring in the Christmas spirit to the Evangelical Free Church in Lethbridge, Dec. 17.

Tenore is a three-time GMA award winning tenor group that exploded onto the Canadian Gospel Music scene in 2011 with their debut and soared to international acclaim. They just released their brand new album “Christmas With You” on Nov. 5. Tenore includes Nashville singers Jason Catron, Mark Williams, David Wise and swing tenor Kevin Pauls, who is from Hamilton.

They are stopping by Lethbridge in the middle of an extensive cross-Canada tour which began in Camrose on Nov. 15.

“We’re getting to that point. It’s been really great turnouts and a lot of support from audiences,” said Catron.

“It’s been amazing. People leave saying it really helped to lift their spirits for the Christmas season,” he said.

They are pleased with their new Christmas CD “Christmas With You,” which was recorded in the summer in Nashville, Chicago and Toronto with a collective of world class producers, musicians and a 50-piece orchestra.

“It’s got all of the standards like ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Come All Ye Faithful,’ and originals,” he said.

“There is a really good variety of music,” he said.

One of the highlights was going to Uganda in Africa to record with the world-famous Watoto Children’s Choir, who join them on the hit song “Where Are You Christmas?”, originally recorded by Faith Hill and featured in the popular Universal Pictures film “The Grinch.” “It was a real eye-opener,” Catron said.

“They are really quite well known for an African choir. And at Christmas, people love to hear boy choirs sing and hear those sweet little voices.”

They had a great time performing in Lethbridge, though it wasn’t a Christmas show.

“The crowd was incredible. They had to turn away 200 people at the door which we didn’t want to do and we tried to do another show, but couldn’t make the schedule work,” he recalled.

“This night is going to be really amazing. We have a 100-piece church choir performing with us and a 40-piece children’s choir. So it is really going to be something special,” he enthused.

The show is 7-9 p.m. at the Evangelical Free Church (4717 24 Avenue South). Tickets are $15 advance, $20 at the door, $10 for children 14 and under.

Vancouver-based gypsy folk/circus rock band Blackberry Wood is coming back to Lethbridge, Dec. 16 with a whole new lineup, other than frontman Kris Wood.

They even got their new stand-up bassist from a circus sideshow.

“It’s been crazy,” said Wood, who is excited about the new lineup.

“We got Shannon or Miss Eerie, that’s her real name, comes from a circus sideshow from Danger Thrills, which has things like guys sleeping on beds of nails. We were talking to her and she said ‘it’s been so long since I’ve played bass.’ We said ‘you play bass?’ So we asked her to join,” he explained.

They haven’t decided on a theme for their show as their shows always involve props and crazy costumes.

“What do you think? Santa Claus? Or Nightmare before Christmas?” he chuckled.

“Shannon comes from a theatrical background so she always make sure the set and backdrop are up and that props are on stage. And costumes have come a long way, too,” he said.

The rest of the band have moved on, too.

“We lost our drummer in Dawson City. He got abducted by a very large forest woman. He just went missing. But we got a letter from her saying ‘you’ve lost your drummer, but my brother is an amazing mechanic, he can build you an mechanical drummer,’ so we have that,” he chuckled.

“He mostly plays old traditional country music.”

He also has a new trumpet player, Marna.

“She is amazing. She can play world gypsy music, old blues and a lot of old jazz,” he said.

“Shelder (their previous trumpet player) got a dream job as music director on Salt Spring Island, that hippie island, for one of the schools, so she couldn’t turn it down. And Jen, our saxophone player and her new boyfriend and the van they bought had a plan to go down south, so they’re tripping around. So it’s party on,” he said.

Blackberry Wood has been busy breaking in the new lineup and, as always doing a lot of touring.

“On this tour we’re doing 12 shows in 12 nights. This summer we played the Glastonbury Festival again and bigger festivals like Arts Wells,” he said, adding he is pleased with the new lineup.

“These new folks are really stoked about rehearsing, so it’s been a lot of fun. I have an incredible backlog of songs, and I’ve been writing new ones,” he said.

The show begins at 9 p.m., Dec. 16. There is a $5 cover

Reviews

Washboard Hank and Lance Loree plus Hank’s wife Sweet Mountain Muriel will turn any frown upside down, even on the coldest night as they did for an intimate audience of about 10 people, which eventually swelled to about 20 at the Slice, Wednesday, Dec. 4.

Washboard Hank, a.k.a. Hank Fisher, who used to tour with Fred Eaglesmith among others, sure knows how to entertain. And while Washboard Hank has been around for a lot longer than the ever-so-popular Hank and Lily who are based out of Victoria, Washboard Hank, Lance Loree and Sweet Muriel sounded like Hank and Lily might sound if they were raised on a farm rather than in a city.

He cracked off-colour jokes and and guffaw-inducing songs right from the beginning “soundcheck song.”

But in addition to playing “stupid songs,” the duo — trio when Washboard Hank’s wife Sweet Mountain Muriel joined them on the stage — proved themselves to be no slouches as musicians as well.

Loree mugged for the audience while knocking off hot rockabilly, country and even a couple jazzy licks on the guitar. He played dobro on a couple of other songs and even tried his hand at the Slice’s out-of-tune piano.

Washboard Hank slowly added more paraphernalia with each song, beginning with a guitar, switching to banjo, then adding several homemade instruments including a custom kazoo and his “fallopian tuba,” a tuba he made out of PVC pipe and the kitchen sink.

He put on a hard hat featuring various bells, whistles and a tin plate for extra percussion.

And of course he added his famed washboard — an actual washboard with a license plate and more bells, whistles and rubber horns than your average circus, and played some impressive rhythms on it. He introduced it by singing a song about the washboard called “Washboard Boogie.”

They began their show slowly before getting into the hilarious stuff beginning with “‘Elvis is Dead and Living Down in Tweed,” which Washboard Hank prefaced with some jokes about Elvis being alive and opening a gas station.

Sweet Muriel joined them on stage, adding her adorable squeaky twang and to play some mandolin while singing some old country/blues songs and help Hank sing a John Prine song. She sounded like she stepped right out of the 1940s.

It was back to the funny stuff with a request for “Polyester Polly” and a Celtic-tinged tune, “Ferd and Lizer.”

He sang another humorous song about Sweet Muriel‘s wedding called “Who Spit Tobacco on Sweet Muriel’s Wedding Gown.”

They ended the first set with a couple of political songs including “Stupid Is as Stupid Does,” about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, and “Hooray for Stephen Harper,” a tongue-in-cheek stab at the prime minister.

The second set started in a rootsy/country vein with a really pretty song, “Nothing lasts Forever.”

The played another request as Hank laughed, “We love requests, especially when they are our songs.”

Sweet Muriel joined them on stage for a racy version of “Friendly Little Cat,” which had the audience howling with laughter as Lance Loree made his guitar meow in several different keys.

They played another hilarious song, this time about farm accidents. They stayed in the farm humour with another humourous song about pigs, as Hank snorted into the microphone.

Lethbridge got a taste of Vancouver pop at the Candie Co. annual Christmas fashion show, Nov. 30 at Average Joe’s as PEAK Contest-winning singer Rykka visited Lethbridge for the first time.

The crowd had thinned out by the time I arrived near the end of her set.

The blonde bombshell looked absolutely stunning in a leather skirt as she belted out pop and rock music like a blend of Katy Perry and Pink.

She strummed an electric guitar and tapped at a keyboard, sometimes banging on a drum set before her.

She blasted through a credible cover of the Police’s “Roxanne,” but could have used a band to fill out the extra space.

She had a huge, beautiful, resonant, soulful voice which grabbed the listeners’ attention.

She played older, more pop-inspired songs as well as more experimental songs, inspired by nature and animals from  her new CD “Kodiak.”

Her guitarist, Carl Janzen, joined her on stage to add a little extra ambience, which freed her up to experiment on keyboard and tap her drum.

Blueprint 7th anniversary

Lethbridge independent record store Blueprint celebrated its seventh birthday with a lot of loud live music at the Slice, Nov. 30.

While I missed Chief Mountain, I arrived in the middle of an incendiary set by a new punk/alternative rock trio called Advertisement featuring Adrian Sutherland on guitar. They played a tight set of energetic rock along the lines of bands like Sonic Youth which impressed a lot of the full house, who were asking themselves what they just heard.

I haven’t seen Fox Eyes for a while, but was glad to see them again.

While I remember them as a metal band, their set was more ’90s style grunge rock along the lines of Hole.

Lead singer Fox Mandy leaped around the stage playing guitar and shrieked like Courtney Love. Her piercing voice was reminiscent of Fist City who were playing after them.

The music had a lot of shrieking feedback and a lot of intensity and a solid groove. They even sang “Happy Birthday” to Blueprint.

Fist City played exactly what everybody expected them to play — delay-drenched, surf- inspired garage and punk rock music.

They played a lot of perky crowd favourites as well as some brand new songs.

As they were still playing around 1 a.m., I called it a night before headliners Napalmpom took the stage to end the night.

DIRT and Robotoroboros

The Slice rocked on Nov 29 thanks to DIRT and freshly minted local jam band Robotoroboros.

DIRT will be taking a hiatus after this show as lead vocalist/guitarist John Brooks is going to Japan, but they made it count with lots of big, loud, Black Sabbath-style sludge rock.

As usual they supplied lots of bludgeoning guitar and intricate bass from Steve Martin while drummer Garwin Poff thundered away on the kit and held it all together. They played a lot of music from their upcoming album and added a few choice covers like UFO’s “Rock Bottom,” and a surprisingly cheerful version of Motorhead’s “Killed by Death.”

One of their originals, “Rifftastic,” stood out, well, because of all the big, detuned guitar riffs in it. The whole show was full of big, loud, detuned riffage which had a good portion of the audience in front of the stage banging their heads.

I only caught the end of the new band Robotoroboros featuring CKXU music director Branden Hamilton playing psychedelic jams on guitar, as well as James Myer and Dennis Rollag on bass and drums respectively. They did themselves proud for their first gig.

You can’t leave a rockabilly gig without a smile on your face, so Calgary-based Mercury Audio’s show at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Nov. 29, was no exception.

I arrived midway through their first set and they already had about half of the full room dancing and the other half applauding wildly.

Frontman Dylan Sadlier-Brown looks and sounds like his dad Mark Sadlier Brown with just a touch of Watermelon Slim’s slightly slurred, marble-mouthed vocals.

They played an array of up tempo original music as well as some choice rockabilly and traditional county covers including Dave Dudley/George Jones’s hit “Six Days on the Road.”

There was plenty of thumping stand up bass and hot rockabilly guitar licks backed by an endless backbeat.

I particularly enjoyed one of the originals, “Some Girls,” which wound down their first set.

Dec. 11

Owl Acoustic Lounge — L.A Beat open mic

NAAG — Drama Nutz Wednesday Night Nutz flop or funny Magic of the Mind

Slice — jazz jam with HBO3

Dec. 12

Inferno — open mic

Slice — Highway 3 Roots revue with Dave McCann. Leeroy Stagger and John Wort Hannam

Dec. 13

Casino Lethbridge —2nd Avenue

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

Slice — CKXU Christmas Party

Average Joe’s — Dueling Pianos

Jimmy’s Pub — open mic

Wolf’s Den — open mic

Owl Acoustic Lounge — George Arsene with Tyler Bird

Dec. 14

Ric’s Grill — James Oldenburg

Casino Lethbridge — 2nd Avenue

Slice — Johnny G and the Spots

Owl Acoustic Lounge — Junkman’s Choir

Dec. 16

Southminster United Church — Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra Masters Series III Les Miserables

Slice — Blackberry Wood

Owl Acoustic Lounge — open mic

Dec. 17

Southminster United Church — Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra Masters Series III Les Miserables

E-Free Church — Tenore with Lethbridge Choir

Slice — Open mic

Dec. 18

Owl Acoustic Lounge — L.A. Beat open jam

Southminster United Church — Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra Masters Series III Les Miserables

Slice — Ann Vriend with the Rooster Davis Group

The Coast — LA Chefs – Small business party with Fast Times

NAAG Gallery — Drama Nutz Uncensored Improv

Dec. 19

Owl Acoustic Lounge — Willhorse with Rolla Olak

Slice — The Juxtaposers with Toques and BEards

Inferno — open mic

Dec. 20

Casino Lethbridge — Dean Ray band

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

Owl Acoustic Lounge — Mormon Girls with betterhalf

Jimmy’s Pub and Brasserie — open mic

Slice — Treeline with Shaela Miller $10

Wolf’s Den — bluegrass jam

Dec. 21

Ric’s Grill — Cal Toth

Casino Lethbridge — Dean Ray band

Owl Acoustic Lounge — Matt Robinson and his band, Rusty Klok

Slice — Black Mastiff, Mormon Girls, The Void, Advertisement $10

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