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Local acts take centre stage

Posted on January 15, 2014 by Lethbridge Sun Times

This week is mostly about local music and one big country-pop act. The big mainstream country show features Mobile, Alabama country-pop band the Band Perry, known for mega-hits “If I Die Young,” “Done” and “Better Dig Two” plays the Enmax Centre, Jan. 16. The Band Perry show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $45-$80 or $179 (plus fees) for a Pioneer VIP experience including a pre-show acoustic performance, pre-show party with refreshments, the Band Perry tour poster and merchandise and a VIP laminate.

There are a variety of different local acts performing this week. Sheldon Arvay and Scott Kanashiro will be playing classical music as the Fire Guitar Duo at Ric’s Grill, Wednesday, Jan. 15.

Cal Toth returns to Ric’s Grill on Jan. 18.

Karen Romanchuk will be playing her brand of folk and country music at the Mocha Cabana on Friday and Saturday.

Toques and Beards play their unique rock music at the Slice on Jan. 17. Also James Oldenburg has his regular Thursday gig at the Cotton Blossom Lounge.

And local rapper Aerosubtle performs at the Owl Acoustic Lounge on Jan. 17.

Over at the Casino, local rock band Soup of Flies will be rocking the joint on the weekend, Jan. 17 and Jan. 18.

And don’t forget Steve Keenan is hosting his blues jam at Honker’s Pub, Jan. 17.

There are a lot of open mics as always including the weekly Friday jam at Jimmy’s Pub and the Saturday afternoon open mic at Studio 54.

There are a couple cool prairie acts coming to Lethbridge this week as well.

Just announced, Panda/Unicorn-clad, Moose Jaw-based, pop-tinged indie rock trio PandaCorn, a.k.a. Megan Nash and Brodie Mohninger plus drummer Ryan Schnell, play the Slice on Jan. 16 with local alternative rock band Advertisement. PandaCorn released their first CD “Synthesis of Opposites” late last year.

And even better, Calgary country band turned indie rock band Cowpuncher return to the Slice, Jan. 18.

They have just released their latest CD “Ghost Notes.” There is a $10 cover for the show.

PandaCorn will be a officially a trio when they return to Lethbridge Jan. 16 to play the Slice.

Drummer Ryan Schnell, who will have played with them for a year as of March, is officially part of the band and on their new EP “Synthesis of Opposites” which was released in Moose Jaw and Saskatoon in November.

It is a good description of the band. Guitarist/vocalist Brody Mohninger comes from a more indie rock background while keyboardist/vocalist Megan Nash comes from a folk singer/songwriter background.

Schnell also comes from a punk rock background.

“He’s a really great guy. We all have different personalities, so that worked out pretty cool,” Nash said.

She is excited about the new seven-track CD.

“We had a local release in Moose Jaw and Regina, but we want to record two more songs and do an official national and digital release,” she said, adding she hopes it will be completed in time for summer.

“Brodie put a lot of work into this CD. All I had to do is come in and played my parts and recorded my vocals,” she said.

“He’s been doing everything else. He’s been engineering it as well as playing his own parts,” she enthused.

She noted people have really embraced the CD during the local release.

“We’ve been playing too many gigs without a CD.

ˆ“It’s nice to play these songs, but it’s nice people can take them home with them and listen to them again, Heck, it’s nice that people want to take them home and listen to them again,” she said.

They always enjoy playing Lethbridge.

“We did a lot of overdubs on the CD, so we’ve been learning to play them.

“We’ve got some new songs as well. So there will be songs you recognize, but it will be a different show,” she said.

“I love Lethbridge. I’m wearing my CKXU shirt right now,” she continued.

“We play there every three or four months.”

There is a $5 cover for the show, which also includes Lethbridge alternative rock band Advertisement. The show begins at 9:30 p.m.


Big Dave McLean schools intimate audience on the blues

Lethbridge hosted a Canadian blues legend and nobody, save for maybe a dozen people, was there to hear him, Jan 9 at the Slice.

Luckily McLean and drummer Brendan Nagle didn’t mind the poor turnout.

They schooled the enthusiastic audience on first-generation Delta blues, focusing on the music of the masters like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Bukka White and one or two of his own songs during his set which began at 9:30 p.m. and ended just before midnight.

As much as I love listening to Big Dave belt out the classics, slapping out extra rhythm and crazy harmonics on his National steel guitar, and playing some spooky slide, I wanted to hear a few more of his originals.

He had a great song about his crooked mechanic in the second set which stood out. He alternated between his old National Steel and a vintage 1958 National electric guitar he bought from Tim Williams.

He showed several sides of his favourite blues legends by playing both faster and sweeter, slower versions of several Robert Johnson songs. He told stories about their lives and deaths which is always entertaining. He talked about playing with Muddy Waters early in his career

He ended with a couple more obscure blues classics like Barbecue Bob’s “Atlanta Boll Weevils” and blues standard “Crossroad.”

The upside of having few people at the show is I got to fulfil a lifelong dream — playing on stage with Big Dave McLean.

If there had been more people in the audience, there would have probably been more guitarists in the audience — better ones than me — and I might not have got the chance.

But somehow he found out I played guitar and called me up to the stage to open the second set with an old Howling Wolf number, which I can’t name as I was too busy paying attention to the chord changes he walked me through in between playing harp. I just hope I did the song justice. It was an honour and a privilege for me as playing with Muddy Waters was to Big Dave McLean as playing with Big Dave McLean is to me. He was patient and understanding and I was a little star stuck and as usual had horrible stage fright. So I’ll blame that for a few muffed notes.

The rest of the second set was exceptional.

He played a cool version of Tom Waits’ “Get Behind the Mule” as he quipped, “There are a lot of words in that song.”

He also played more blues classics including “Sweet Home Chicago” and “Hoochie Coochie Man.”

He ended the show just before midnight by revisiting a Muddy Waters song, “I Feel Like Going Home,” which he played in the first set “before most of you got here.”

He and Brendan Nagle called it a night with a hot version of “Over Yonder Wall.”

In my darker moments, I’m almost ready to give up on this scene. It seems lately you pretty much have to go door to door and drag people forcibly out of their homes and out to shows. A cat like Big Dave McLean deserves an audience of at least 2,012 instead of 12. I do my bit. I had an interview with him on L.A. Beat and in the Sun Times and plugged it on my radio show. So either people aren’t paying attention or they just don’t care. Or maybe they have lives outside of music, unlike me. Luckily cats like Big Dave are really good sports about playing to a handful of people. It is only a matter of time before people stop coming to play here. Then there truly will be nothing to do in Lethbridge.

Ranchi Deluxe experiment with fiddle

A slightly revamped Rancho Deluxe entertained an intimate audience of approximately 20 people at the Slice, Jan. 4.

Vocalist/guitarist George Arsene, Bassist Taylor Ackerman, drummer Brad Brouwer and Tyler Bird playing fiddle, played an array of country and folk songs. They played several originals as well as covers from Alejandro Escovedo, Fred Eaglesmith and Little Feat’s “Willing.”

Ackerman and Bird switched between several instruments. It was great to hear Tyler Bird playing fiddle, which he usually doesn’t play on stag every ofter as he is usually playing either bass, guitar or sometimes drums.

Michael Coughlan gets crowd involved

Medicine Hat musician Michael Coughlan entertained an enthusiastic audience at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, with a variety of originals and popular covers, Jan. 4.

He had the crowd singing along with his version of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey My My.”

His appealing baritone reminded my of Edmonton singer songwriter Scott Cook, especially on some insightful originals including a couple about Medicine Hat.

He convinced the crowd to vocalize along with him on another of his originals.

Jan. 15

Ric’s Grill — Sheldon Arvay and Scott Kanashiro

Owl Acoustic Lounge — L.A Beat open jam

Jan. 16

Enmax Centre — The Band Perry

Inferno — open mic

Cotton Blossom lounge — James Oldenburg

Jan. 17

Owl Acoustic Lounge — Aerosubtle

Jimmy’s Pub — open mic

Wolf’s Den — bluegrass jam

Honkers — Open mic with Steve Keenan

Casino Lethbridge — Soup of Flies

Mocha Cabana — Karen Romanchuk

Jan. 18

Mocha Cabana — Karen Romanchuk

Slice — Cowpuncher

Casino Lethbridge — Soup of Flies

Ric’s Grill — Cal Toth

Jan. 20

Owl Acoustic Lounge — open mic

Jan. 21

Slice— open mic

Bo Diddly’s — open mic

Jan. 22

Owl Acoustic Lounge — L.A. Beat open jam

Ric’s Grill — James Oldenburg

Jan. 23

Yates Theatre — Los Lobos with Leeroy Stagger tickets $65

Inferno — open mic

Cotton Blossom lounge — James Oldenburg

Jan. 24

Slice — Johnny Don’t

Owl Acoustic Lounge — The Palmers

Jimmy’s Pub — open mic

Wolf’s Den — open mic

Honkers — Open mic with Steve Keenan

Casino Lethbridge — the Chevelles

Mocha Cabana — Herb Hicks

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