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Suicide inspires Edmonton musician to write songs

Posted on January 22, 2014 by Lethbridge Sun Times

There are a lot of excellent shows this week, not to mention an impressive variety of music. The big show of the week takes place at the Yates Centre with Los Lobos and special guests, Leeroy Stagger and his band. They play the Yates Jan. 23

There is a big metal show at the Moose Hall, Jan 25.

Several metal bands will be playing including Black Pestilence, Path to Extinction, local bands the Avulsion and the Morbidly Depraved and Death Pledge plus Vythrak and Descending Abomination.’ The all-ages show begins at 6 p.m. There is a $10 cover.

Death Pledge is also featured in a day-long local band showcase at the Smokehouse.

This huge show begins at noon with Dory and the Weathermen followed by Death Pledge, local grunge/alternative band Fox Eyes, blues band the Johnny Rains Band, Danny Douglas, Automic, rock band the Raw Dogs, pop-punk band Open 24-7, traditional First Nations folk duo Curt Young and Young Medicine, classic rock blues band Driving While Blind, Temple City and classic rock band Undefined, who wind things up around 6 p.m. Each band plays for 30 minutes.

There is no cover for the show. An open jam session will follow. In a similar vein, classic rock band the Chevelles rock the Casino, Friday and Saturday.

For something completely different, Calgary-based, classically trained electro pop band Sidney York play the Slice, Jan. 25. They are touring in support of their new CD, “<3s (Hearts).” There is a $10 cover for that show.

For jazz buffs, Herb Hicks returns to the Mocha Cabana, Friday and Saturday. And James Oldenburg plays his regular gigs at Ric’s Grill, Jan. 22 and the Cotton Blossom Lounge on Thursday, Jan. 23. Sheldon Arvay plays an acoustic show at Ric’s Grill with his band on Jan. 25.

The Owl Acoustic Lounge has some great talent from Edmonton on the weekend. Evan Eushenko’s new band the Palmers play their debut gig of old-school rock and roll-inspired music at the owl Acoustic Lounge, Jan. 24 with Edmonton songstress Cayley Thomas.

And Edmonton folk singer Alex Vissa returns to the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Jan. 25.

One of Saskatchewan’s best up-and-coming bands, Johnny Don’t, will be blending indie rock with a touch of jazz and R and B and just a touch of funk at the Slice, Jan. 24.

The Blue Ridge Country Society has their monthly afternoon jam session on Sunday, Jan. 25 as well beginning at 1 p.m. It is one of many regular open jams happening in Lethbridge.

And if you want to bang your head ’70s style, don’t miss Hamilton-based riff rockers Monster Truck, when they roar into Average Joe’s on Tuesday, Jan. 28. Tickets are $20 for the show which begins at 9 p.m.

Cayley Thomas turns tragedy into inspiration

When her brother committed suicide in 2012, Edmonton musician Cayley Thomas started writing songs to cope with the tragedy.

Her resulting five-track EP “Ash Mountain” caught on with a lot of people. She gets a lot of play on CKUA and got slots at the Edmonton and Canmore folk festivals last summer where she got to play tweeners on the main stage between Feist and Charles Bradley.

“It‘s nice of them to spin this. It’s sort of hard to do when it’s your first hack at it. So the fact they are playing me is pretty humbling,” she said.

She will be playing the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Jan. 24 with the Palmers — Evan Eushenko and Emma Austin’s new rock and roll band, who will be playing their first gig. She is friends with Austin, who is Eushenko’s girlfriend, who she knew from hearing him playing with Michael Rault, who she went to school with.

“I’ve been singing since I was young, but it was always other people’s songs,” Thomas said, who had just graduated from the University of Alberta with a BFA in acting.

“This great opportunity came up to play the Edmonton and Canmore folk festivals so I seized it. But when you play big festivals like this, it is nice to have something to sell,” she said.

So she grabbed the guitarist and bassist/audio engineer from her ’60s soul revival band and entered the Sound Extractor Studio in Edmonton.

“We took eight hours a song, which is pretty concise,” she said.

She had turned to music to cope with the suicide of her brother who was an avid snowboarder who was living in Banff.

“I started writing songs to cope. it was hard on all of us. People loved him. But depression is a disease and so is addiction. So about 50 of us went to Banff and climbed a mountain and spread his ashes there,” she said.

“I’ll be playing the EP and a lot of other songs I know,” she said.

“I’m going to Indonesia in 12 days, so this will be the last hurrah with the band. I’m just going to take a travel guitar and see some of the world and start writing songs,” she said. She hopes to record a full-length album when she returns and do a cross-Canada tour.

There is no cover for the show which begins at 9 p.m., Jan. 24.

Electro pop duo Sidney York is all about pushing the envelope for “band geeks.”

The band consists of opera singer/French horn player Brandi Sodoryk and bassoonist Krista Wodelet.

“We’re the core of the band. We’re an electro pop band. We’re a whirlwind of instruments on stage,” Sidoryk said from Portland.

They will visit the Slice, Jan. 25, in the middle of a three-month tour including mostly American concert dates which will bring them to Austin, Texas’ renowned South by Southwest Music Festival.

“We both have master’s degrees in music. We’re band geeks. These are the same instruments we’ve played since Grade 6, but we wanted to show high school band instruments can be so much more than you expect them to be,” she continued.

“We both play synths and Krista plays her bassoon like an electric guitar — through a whole bunch of guitar effects,” she described.

“We’re seeing a lot of places for the first time,” Sidoryk said.

“It’s not what we expected. People are really excited to see us. They have been super terrific. We didn’t expect that response,” she said.

Their latest album, “<3s (Hearts),” was released Jan. 14.

“There is more co-writing between myself on this record and Krista since she joined the band. The first record, I wrote all of the songs,” she said.

“This is a break-up record. Both of us were going through break-ups at the same time.

“So it was interesting to see how much our lives mirrored each other,” she said.

The duo is touring with a band including drummer Niko Friesen, bassist Shaun Huberts and guitarist Noah Walker.

There is a $10 cover for the show which begins at 9 p.m.

Monster Truck blend old and new rock and roll on new CD

Monster Truck is ready to roar back into Alberta, when they play Average Joe’s, Jan. 28.

“We’re just four friends who like to play rock and roll together. It’s the old-school rock vibe meets the new school, that’s what we are going for,” said Monster Truck guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Widerman, enjoying some much-needed time at home in Hamilton after a busy year which has included a lot of shows, the release of their new album “Furiosity” and even an opening slot for Alice in Chains.

Vocalist/bassist Jon Harvey, organist/vocalist Brandon Bliss and drummer/vocalist Steve Kiely complete the band’s lineup.

It has been almost exactly two years ago since Monster Truck played Lethbridge with FUBAR star the Deaner’s band Night Seeker.

“I don’t remember much about that tour,” Widerman said.

“We had 11 shows in Alberta . . . We were still trying to get our show together. It was a lot of fun, though,” he said.

They had a busy year last year, but they are looking forward to be back on the road again — sort of.

“We’re really enjoying our time off at home. Last year was a busy year. But we got to travel to Europe and this year already looks busy. But it’s going to be fun,” he said.

Among last year’s highlights was opening fro Alice In Chains. Two years ago they opened for Deep Purple. They hadn’t expected that level of success.

“Not at all. When we started the band we were just doing it for fun. We never thought it would get us to the level it has got us,” he said.

The release of “Furiosity” was the culmination of a frustrating year-long process which took them to Los Angeles where they recorded an entire album and then scrapped the whole thing after not seeing eye to eye with the producer.

“It’s a pretty crazy story,” Widerman summarized.

“We ended up coming back to Canada and recording it with Eric Ratz,” he said.

“We were figuring out all of the pieces. It’s unfortunate we wasted all of that time and money on the other CD, though. But we think we achieved what we were going for.”

They achieved their goal with the CD.

“We wanted to explore the many sides of rock and roll the band plays. On the Brown EP we had five songs that ripped your head off on each one. We wanted to build a completely different record for this one,” he said.

“We wanted to build a huge sound from the beginning, but we have a slower blues song right in the middle.”

“Furiosity” was released in May, so the band is already looking ahead tot their next album, which they hope to record and release next year.

“We don’t want to be the band who tour non-stop and all of the sudden people expect a new album from us so we have to scramble to do it,” he said.

“So we’re looking ahead and bouncing ideas off of each other,“ he added.

Their first two EPS, the Brown EP and the Monster Truck EP, are available for free through their website http://ilovemonstertruck.com/releases.

Monster Truck rocks Average Joe’s Jan. 28 at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $20.


The Band Perry did themselves proud as “Pioneers” on their first headlining tour which stopped by the Enmax Centre Jan. 16.

While they are pretty far removed from traditional country music, they are sure a lot of fun as a more classic rock-influenced pop band. Their set was full of a happiness, energy and lots of words of empowerment and being upbeat and positive. To emphasize that, they wound down their set with a rousing version of Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls,” sung by mandolinist Neil “I put the man in mandolin” Perry. I wanted to hear more of his mandolin as he had some very cool-looking instruments, but he was often drowned out by everybody else.

“You Lie” from their debut CD was a highlight early in the set, which featured animation on the screens and a haunting “You Lie” shone on the middle screen.

They played an intimate version of “All Your Life,” for which they all took a seat around the stage as the crowd waved their cell phone lights like lighters during their well known ballad.

But my absolute favourite song was “I’m a Keeper,” which the siblings dedicated to the “haters” after telling individual stories about being hated .

Neil Perry joked he always gets asked “does that come in a regular size” and added, “I put the man in mandolin,” while his brother, bassist Keith, said he got told his hair was too long for a country band.

There wasn’t any hate in this audience, but instead a whole lot of love, a lot of foot stomping which was literally shaking the stands in the Enmax Centre and quite a bit of singing which took the band members aback.

“I remember playing places where there were more people on stage than the audience,” Kimberly Perry observed.

The most moving moment of the show was a tearjerking rendition of “O Canada” played by the fiddle player and the Band Perry’s backup guitarist.

One of the brothers brought a Canadian flag up the steps and placed it on the steel riser above the drum set as the whole crowd stood and removed their hats and sung along.

Charismatic lead singer Kimberly Perry, brothers Keith and Neil, were backed by a full band who bounded all over the massive and sparse stage, which featured risers for the drums and utility instruments and a steel bridge behind them as three massive screens above the stage displayed various animations, graphics and the odd song title.

The show started with a countdown on three massive screens behind the stage featuring a pictures of the band members as they launched into their latest hit “Done.”

Most of the set focused on music from their latest CD “Pioneers” though there were plenty of hits from their first CD including a version of “Postcards From Paris,” which was somewhat faster than on the record.

They saved the biggest hits for the encore. The crowd was singing the first verse of “If I Die Young,” right from the first chord of the song, which shocked the siblings, who had gathered together in the middle of the stage to sing an intimate version of it together.

They finished with smoke billowing up from the stage as they played “Better Dig Two,” while pictures of skeletal hands displayed on the screen.

Before the band Perry, Easton Corbin joked about how cold it was in Lethbridge. The tall, lean, lanky Florida-raised singer has one of those immediately appealing voices that fits so at home on modern country radio that you can’t quite place who it is or what song he’s singing. He’s the guy with the voice who sings that song. He sounded like a mix of Allan Jackson and George Strait. He played his hits “All Over the Road” plus “Roll With It” as well as a newer song “Clockwork.”

He sang his share of other people’s hits including Allan Jackson’s “Where I Come From” and was so convincing that I had to look it up online whether Easton or Jackson performs the recorded version.

Corbin said as much as he noted before he got his record deal, he and his black cowboy hatted steel guitarist toured every radio station there was only to be told he sounds “too much like that guy.” The band played a few bars of “Sweet Home Alabama,” and got booed when they quit playing it, then they played a few bars of Bruno Mars to “screw with him” followed by a few bars of George Strait’s “Check Yes or No.”

They Ended with an excellent cover of Brooks and Dunn’s “Brand New Man’’ and an excellent version of Alabama’s “If You’re Gonna to play in Texas You Got to Have a Fiddle in the Band” which showed off their fiddle player’s prowess.

The show started right on time at 7:30 p.m. with Lindsay Ell. I always thought she was a shredder instead of a country star. But she showed her rocker roots by playing a few bars of Led Zeppelin and AC DC as well as her own country/pop material including “Trippin On Us,” the first single from her CD of the a same name. She had a beautiful voice but was often drowned out by her band and her own snarling electric guitar.

She played a lot of sweet solos on her purple Les Paul and played a stunningly beautiful number on acoustic guitar about her friend with MS whose boyfriend dumped her called “Not Another Me,” which she ended with a flurry of harmonics

It is always great to see bands constantly improving. Local punk/alternative rock trio Advertisement and Moose Jaw indie pop trio PandaCorn both played extremely tight sets at the Slice, Jan. 16.

I arrived midway through a ferocious set from Advertisement.

Guitarist/ vocals Adrian Sutherland, weaved and leaped around playing thunderous riffs as bassist Nigel Derksen got lost in the groove while drummer Ryan Grieve flailed away at the skins.

The had amazing intensity and energy and a furious attack which had most of the dozen people in the audience jumping in front of the stage.

Megan Nash and Brodie Mohninger dressed in their trademark unicorn and panda costumes backed by drummer Ryan Schnell, played an incredibly tight set of ridiculously catchy indie-pop music mixed with electro pop music. Mohninger added the indie rock on guitar and played a lot of great hooks, while Nash plunked away at her synthesizers adding bass and quirky sounds adding an ’80s feel to the music especially when she added what sounded like a few bars of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”

The duo took turns singing lead. Nash sounded a lot like Serena Ryder especially on songs like “Mother’s Daughter.” They also harmonized together beautifully.

“This is a song about parenting and how little we know about it. This next one is about love and how little we know about it,” she laughed in between songs.

They played the songs from their EP “Synthesis of Opposites” and a few more to appear on the full-length version.

They ended with one of these, “Too Many Irons,” a catchy number which would have been at home on a Cars  or Fountains of Wayne album.

Winnipeg folk/punk singer Greg Rekus played a fun-filled show for an intimate audience at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Jan. 13 on a chilly, snowy night.

He growled into the microphone and had a Celtic-punk feel to his music.

He jumped around on an upraised wooden stage with a few tambourines scattered on it.

He sang a variety of music including originals from his two CDs including his latest CD “Punkcoustic” as well as covers as varied as Waylon Jennings and NOFX.

Some of the highlights were his song about legendary Winnipeg punk club the Royal Albert plus another one about walking home from the bar while drunk as well as a song called “High Class.”

He attempted to get the dozen or so people involved with the show by clapping and stomping their feet in time to his music. He played most of his new CD and several upbeat tracks from his previous CD. He wound things down by trying to get the audience to sing along with a song and by playing a kazoo solo while jumping up an down on his stage.

I have missed the last couple shows featured by the Lethbridge Folk Club. Well, Hills and Lemelin was cancelled owing to illness, however I made a priority of catching Calgary-based bluegrass band Go Ask Earl, Jan. 11 at the Moose Hall where the Folk Club now has all of their shows.

I caught the end of a pretty laidback, relatively speaking, set of bluegrass music. They had a good-sized crowd of approximately 90 people listening intently to the band as fiddler/mandolinist Bruce Leinan, guitarist Carolin McBrien, banjo player Brad Lindberg and stand-up bassist Keith Uyeno they took turns singing lead vocals, adding harmonies, switching instruments and telling stories. They also had a dobro player adding extra slide.

They had a pretty laidback feel as many bluegrass bands play very fast, but definitely gave their fingers a hot, sweaty, workout. They played a lot of bluegrass classics from folks like Ricky Skaggs and old-country swing from bands like Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, which had a couple two-stepping at the back of the room.

They even turned the Allman Brothers Band’s “Midnight Rider” on its ear and gave it a hot bluegrass twist which had the crowd clapping enthusiastically along with them.

They also sang a couple enjoyable originals.

Stand-up bassist Keith Uyeno told a story about moving to North Carolina and knowing nothing about bluegrass music and only knowing how to play a clarinet. He followed that up by playing a song he wrote about living in the Carolinas.

He praised the songwriting of Carolin McBrien, who played one of her own songs as the band added beautiful vocal harmonies.

Her original song “Shaky Ground” was a highlight as well.

They were playing right on up to 11:30 p.m. and looked ready to play into the night.

The next folk club presentation is Feb. 15 at the Moose Hall featuring John Wort Hannam.

Things ended up early on Saturday, Jan. 11.

I was looking forward to hearing local garage rock band the Yeah Dads again but missed their set at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, as well as most of a set by Advertisement, Jan 11.

Lethbridge punk/alternative rock trio Advertisement was finishing up a hot, sweaty set of mostly original punk music.

They get better and tighter sounding every time I see them.

I caught the second set of Lethbridge funk/rock trio Cosmic Charley at the Slice, Jan. 11.

While they had already played most of their originals and newer material, the short second set was marked by a a lot of popular covers.

They played an excellent version of the Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy,” and their usual solid version of the Strokes “Last Nite.”

They also played one of my favourite Cosmic Charley originals’ “Walking Revolution.”

They ended their show around midnight by putting their own funky spin on Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man.”

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

Cotton Blossom lounge — James Oldenburg

Jan. 24

Slice — Johnny Don’t

Owl Acoustic Lounge — The Palmers with Cayley Thomas

Jimmy’s Pub — open mic

Wolf’s Den — open mic

Honkers — Open mic with Steve Keenan

Casino Lethbridge — the Chevelles

Mocha Cabana — Herb Hicks

Jan. 25

Ric’s Grill — Sheldon and Band

Mocha Cabana — Herb Hicks

Casino Lethbridge — the Chevelles

Slice — Sidney York $10

Owl Acoustic Lounge — Alex Vissia

Studio 54 — open mic

Smokehouse — local band showcase with Starts at noon each band plays for 30 min.

Bands for this event will play in order as follows

Dory & the Weathermen

Death Pledge Fox Eyes Johnny Rains Band

Danny Douglas


Raw Dogs

Open 24/7 Curt Young and Young Medicine

Driving While Blind Temple City Undefined

Jam session to follow at 9 pm

Jan. 26

Moose Hall — Blue Ridge Country Society open jam

Jan. 27

Owl Acoustic Lounge — open mic

Jan. 28

Slice — open mic

Bo Diddly’s — open mic

Average Joe’s — Monster Truck $20

Jan. 29

Slice — Bend Sinister

Owl Acoustic Lounge — Zachery Lucky L.A.Beat open jam

Ric’s Grill — Bryant Watson Duo

Jan. 30

Slice — Scotty Hills

Cotton Blossom lounge — James Oldenburg

Owl Acoustic Lounge — Public Records information session

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