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New Brunswick artists in the spotlight

Posted on February 5, 2014 by Lethbridge Sun Times

It’s a pretty sweet week to hear New Brunswick talent in Lethbridge. Two stripped-down, blues-flavoured shows happen this week.

Ross Neilsen plays a solo show at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Feb. 7. He is touring on two CDs, but will focus on material from “The Shack Up Sessions” which he released in 2012. There is no cover for the show, which begins at approximately 9 p.m.

Also from New Brunswick, Matt Andersen plays a show for the Geomatic Attic at Southminster United Church, Feb. 8. His latest CD “Weightless” which combines blues with a lot of R and B and soul, is hot off the presses.

Tickets are $20 for that show, which also features David Myles.

It’s a great week for blues music period as local blues rock band Paul Kype and Texas Flood return to Casino Lethbridge, Feb. 7 and Feb. 8.

It is also an excellent week for jazz music, mostly due to James Oldenburg, who has a full week of gigs at Ric’s Grill on Feb. 5, the Cotton Blossom Lounge, Feb. 6, and a special early first Friday show at the Slice with HBO3.

For something slightly different, Okanagan groove rock band Windborn return to Lethbridge to play the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Feb. 8.

Feb. 8 is a huge night with a lot of great shows happening. The biggest is a fundraiser.

The Save Chinatown Variety show begins at 7 p.m. at the Yates Theatre with a variety of acts including country act the Loose Kanons and headliners the Coal Creek Boys.

There will also be a kung fu demonstration from Choy Lee Fut Kung Fu, the Desert Wind Belly Dancers, Gymfinity Aerials, the object manipulators and longtime resident Albert Leung, who is sure to share stories about Lethbridge’s Chinatown. There will also be a variety of other activities including a silent auction, body art and much more.

Tickets cost $25, though donations will also be accepted for $50 or $75.

The Slice goes country with local country band Hurtin’ who play, Feb. 8 at 9 p.m.

Another excellent country show show is at the Mocha Cabana featuring B.C.-based roots/country musician Lindsay May and Jodi Doidge on Feb. 8. They play 6-9 p.m. with Doidge opening the show. Bridgette Yarwood and Jason Eveleigh return to the Mocha Cabana, Feb. 7. They have a regular monthly gig at Ric’s Grill. The Bryant Watson duo play there this Wednesday, though.

Home Routes house concerts have some excellent shows coming up this winter and spring in Lethbridge.

On Feb. 8, Austin-based folk musician Matt the Electrician come to Lethbridge. He comes from the long tradition of Texas singer/songwriters. Tickets cost $20 with every penny going to the performer. Contact Dawn Gray at Dawn_gray@live.ca for details.

Gray is also bringing in Suzie Vinnick on March 10 and Mark Reeves on April 8.

Perth-Andover, New Brunswick-based “bluesman” Matt Andersen is more than just a bluesman.

He is just about to release his latest CD “Weightless,” which has a touch of blues, a whole lot of soul and plenty of horns thanks to producer Steve Berlin.

“It is a departure — a little bit, but it’s still me. I got labelled as a bluesman, though I never actually recorded a blues album,” Andersen said from the interior of B.C, where he is two shows into the Canadian portion of his latest tour.

He comes to the Southminster United Church to play a show for the Geomatic Attic, Feb. 8. “I never wanted to fall into the Wilson Phillips style of songwriting where every song sounds the same,” he said.

“I don’t write for any specific genre.”

He enjoyed working with Steve Berlin, especially because of his horn arrangements.

“I loved it. I had a great time. He took a cool project to a new level, which I thought was really cool.” Andersen’s live shows are stripped-down solo affairs.

“I play solo usually. I do four or five band shows a year, but most of the year it‘s just me and the guitar. I’m really comfortable doing solo shows,” he said.

“For this show, I’ll play a lot of new songs and some older songs. I have quite a few albums out now,” he said.

“I’ve never been one to make a set list. I’d rather just make it up as I go along,” he described.

“And David Myles is with me. He’s really good, so we’ll do a couple of songs together. He wrote one of the songs on the CD,” he said

Andersen played the Slice a few years ago and the Geomatic Attic once before.

“I’m looking forward to getting back there,” he said.

The Southminster United Church doors open at 7 p.m., Feb. 8, with David Myles beginning his set at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $30.

You never know what New Brunswick bluesman Ross Neilsen will do next, though he has his year planned out.

“I do the solo tour from January through April and the trio from April through December. It’s been that way since 2009,” said Neilsen, from just east of Montreal in the middle of a Canadian tour which brings him to The Owl Acoustic Lounge, Feb. 7.

“That’s the way I prefer it. I prefer to shake it up before I get sick of it,” he said.

“And people like it.”

He released two CDs on top of each other — “The Shack Up Sessions,” which he recorded in Mississippi in January 2012 and released it that December, and an upbeat blues/rock country album, “Resurrection,” which he recorded in January 2013 and released in May.

“I would hate to write a song and not record it because it doesn’t fit into a style that people expect me to be,” Neilsen said, adding he records what he feels, like Colin James and Alvin Youngblood Hart, who record a variety of musical styles, especially the former who will record a pop album followed by a jazz/swing album, followed by a blues album followed by a rock and roll album.

The “Shack Up Sessions” has done well, spending most of last year in CBC’s top 50 list and won best blues recording in the New Brunswick Music Awards. His recent album “Resurrection” received five nominations from Music New Brunswick including album of the year, best group and best rock recording. “The Shack Up Sessions” was nominated for best male solo recording and won the best blues recording.

He expected it to do well.

“I submitted it, and not to be a dick about it, but it didn’t surprise me that it got nominated. It’s pretty sweet for an album I recorded on a whim for 1,000 bucks in about eight hours,” he said.

He is also impressed with how well “Resurrection” has done, though it is a little different than his previous more straight ahead rock and roll recordings.

But I was worried about the response it would receive from the quote, unquote blues community. But it has been pretty positive,” he said.

“It’s definitely different than my previous rock and roll records,” he said.

He decided to record the albums down south, around where the blues is widely considered to have started. He recorded “The Shack Up Sessions” in Clarksdale, Mississippi live off the floor.

“It’s where the blues is widely considered to have started with Robert Johnson at the crossroads,” he said.

“I like to record in different studios. It is so inspirational down there, so the band is already inspired and ready to go,” he said.

He recorded “Resurrection” in a week with his touring band and producer Anders Osborne who also plays on a couple of tracks.

“I prefer to do it that way. I’m not really one to go with professionals (hiring studio musicians).

My rhythm section (drummer Karl Gans and bassist Jamie ‘Jim the Temp’ Guitar works really hard out there on the road. It would be an insult to ditch them for other people. Plus, they know the songs better than anyone,” he said.

He is excited to play the Owl Acoustic Lounge.

“It’s not acoustic. I play electric guitar. But it will be my solo show. So it will be an old-school blues show. I’ll be playing most of ‘The Shack Up Sessions” and several songs from ‘Resurrection’ that I do and a few covers as well,” he said.

“I’ve never played the Owl Acoustic Lounge before, but I have several friends who speak highly of it,” he said.

“I missed playing there last year, but I’ll be back with the trio in April,” he promised.

There is no cover for the Feb. 7 show at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, which will begin at approximately 9 p.m.

Reviews

Scotty Hills shows his blues side

You can’t take the blues out of the bluesman, even when he starts singing R and B and pop music.

Former Perpetrators’ drummer Scotty Hills showed his blues roots to an intimate audience of about a dozen people at the Slice, Jan. 30.

He began his first set slowly on his own, including a bluesy cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundown” and an excellent song called “Isabel.” He went country for “She’s Gone.”

He had a pleasant, appealing voice reminiscent of Danny Michel or Paul Simon and a sweet guitar sound.

He welcomed drummer/keyboardist/analog synth player Jason Cook to the stage and things got a whole lot louder.

Cook’s synth bass shook my bar stool almost to pieces and reminded me of the scene from Bob and Doug McKenzie’s movie “Strange Brew” where the ultra low-frequency synth bass makes the mental institution hockey players start fighting. Yet somehow you could still hear every note Hills sang and played. He played several songs from his most recent CD “Year of Septembers.” He wound the first set down on a slightly slower, more R and B/jazz-influenced note and ended with an outstanding song called “The Beach” about Gimli, Manitoba.

Organ front and centre for Bend Sinister

The organ was front and centre with Vancouver’s Bend Sinister, who played an entertaining show at the Slice, Jan. 29 for a surprisingly strong audience braving a miserable wintery, snowy night.

Bassist Matt Rhode squeezed feedback out of his bass and jumped around, jumping into the spotlight to sing with frontman Dan Moxon. Moxon had a distinctive tenor voice which gave the band an ELO/David Bowie meets Phish sort of sound.

His keyboard, featuring a few different vintage organ sounds anchored the band as drummer Jason Dana held down the rhythm, which Joseph Blood’s guitar and Rhode’s bass all complemented the organ. They all added background vocals.

Blood added some beautiful guitar leads that perfectly filled in the few empty spaces there were. It all pointed to the organ and Moxon’s vocals.

They played several tracks of their most recent CD “Small Fame,” and a several more of their soon to be released CD “Animal” which is to be released on March 11.

“One Shot” was one of many highlights of the set which took you back to the more sensitive, yet psychedelic ’70s while adding a touch of blues and R and B as well. But they touched on the spirit of Deep Purple for some of their heavier songs.

Another highlight was a new song for which they just finished filming a video for in Rossland, B.C.

They showed off some of their influences on a solid cover of Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets.”

Ryland Moranz, best known for being part of Fort Macleod pop punk band the Sophmore Jakes, showed his acoustic side to open the show with a strong set of fancy fingerpicking on a couple guitars and a banjo and even added a harp solo to accompany himself on the banjo.

He even added an acoustic version of a Sophmore Jakes song about Star Wars and love, for which he whistled the Star Wars theme as part of the solo. Some of the highlights were a song about falling in love with a customs official at the border and another song called “Key.”

I was impressed, never having seen that side of him, but shouldn’t have been as he grew up with folk music as his family helped found the South Country Fair.

Monster Truck crushes hot set of rock

The aptly named Monster Truck crushed it at Average Joe’s, Jan. 28 for a good-sized, devil’s horns-throwing, headbanging crowd.

The hirsute Hamilton-based rockers brought back the spirit of the ’70s, with a big, massive, loud, powerful guitar riffs, bone shaking bass and Steve Kieley’s massive drum sound that shook the foundations of the entire building. I’m so thankful I remembered ear plugs for this one. But a band like Monster Truck pretty much demands to be played and heard at top volume.

Bassist Jon Harvey sang most of the throat shredding lead vocals, as he put one foot up on a plastic gig box set at his feet and leaned into his microphone, thumping and pounding at his bass which was front and centre of the Monster Truck’s, well “monstrous” sound. Guitarist Jeremy Widerman writhed and wove all over the stage squeezing the life out of a pair of Gibson SGs when he wasn’t singing lead vocals on a couple of songs.

He sipped a Pilsner as he asked if any of the people in the audience were at their show opening for the Deaner’s band Nightseeker a few years back.

Brandon Bliss was lost in the shadows and in the massive sound as he pounded at a vintage Hammond XK3c organ, complete with a rotating Leslie speaker cabinet behind him, which was plugged into a Marshall amp right behind him.

You couldn’t hear much of him from anywhere in the room as he was pretty much completely drowned out, however at times he could be heard harmonizing with some of Widerman’s bluesy guitar solos.

They opened with their latest hit “The Lion” off their new CD “Furiosity” and played pretty much all of their CD and previous EPs.

There were a lot of highlights including a couple slower, bluesy numbers including “For the Sun” which Widerman described as a “a blues song about how winter sucks and how we want summer to come,” which seemed especially apt as snow was forecasted for the next day.

A more classic rock influenced number from “Furiosity,” “Undercover Love” was another of my favourites.

They finished their set around 10:40 p.m., but came back for an encore after extended applause. They played a couple of older songs and ended just before 11 p.m. with “Old Train,” which had the audience shouting along with the whoa oh oh oh chorus.

Sidney York at the Slice

Calgary-based pop duo Sidney York a.k.a. opera singer/French horn player/keyboardist/guitarist Brandi Sidoryk and bassoonist/vocalist/keyboardist Krista Wodelet created catchy pop music with their classical training, Jan. 25 at the Slice.

They had a good-sized audience who danced and enjoyed the hot band’s blend of catchy pop hooks and some sexy energy as the girls jumped from side to side of the stage to switch instruments

Sidoryk started the set wielding an electric guitar, so it looked like it was going to be a full-blown rock and roll show, but they soon branched out.

The “hit” portion of the night “Dick and Jane” came early in the show as red headed siren Brandi Sidoryk grabbed a ukulele and danced centre stage with Krista Wodelet as she played bassoon hooked up to an array of guitar effects.

Sidoryk sang one of the most touching numbers of the night — one of many songs about break-ups which they played. Their band, including drummer Niko Friesen, bassist Shaun Huberts and guitarist Noah Walker, easily kept step with their set whether they played electro-pop music on a pair of keyboards, more straight-ahead rock or more experimental folk music incorporating Sidoryk’s French horn and ukulele and Wodelet’s bassoon.

In between songs and instrument change, the girls shared personal stories about break ups, spending time in emergency after a break up (Wodelet) and possibly dating drug dealers in Rocky Mountain House (Sidoryk.)

They sang absolutely stunning vocal harmonies as they played infectious pop music that just made the audience want to move their feet.

For a surprise, Vancouver rock/pop band The Gay ’90s opened the show with an all-too-short set of catchy’s rock and roll along the lines of the Killers with just a touch of Blind Melon.

It is always good to see Darryl Düus and Papa King play the blues, especially at a new location. So I had to check out a late announced show at Jimmy’s Pub, Jan. 25, featuring the duo playing a solid show of acoustic blues.

I caught their last set of the night, which featured the gravelly vocals and acoustic guitar of Papa King as Düus added tasteful solos on electric guitar while growling put background vocals.

They played several original songs as well as interesting covers of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and a hot version of the blues classic “I’m Ready,” with which they ended their set around 1 in the morning.

Smokehouse band showcase  I only caught the first part of a daylong band showcase at Smokehouse featuring a variety of different genres of music, Jan. 25.

Dory and the Weathermen opened the show with a set of classic rock covers.

Dory Rossiter sang lead on most of the songs as the other band members added harmonies. They played a variety of classic rock and R and B songs including an excellent version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” as well as “ Lay Down Sally.” They wound down their set with bassist Gerry Clewes bringing out a mandolin for some pretty cool covers of the Pure Prairie League’s “Amie,” as well as Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road.”

They weren’t helped by a bass-heavy sound or excessive reverb on the vocals, which was true of the first two bands.

For something completely different, Death Pledge played an energetic set, giving fans a taste of their evening show at the Moose Hall.

They played a tight, loud set of bone crushing guitar and thundering bass while vocalist Phil Sirias showed off his vocal range from deathly lows, to operatic air-raid siren highs that would do Bruce Dickensen or Rob Halford proud.

Death Pledge were impressive as usual. They ended their set with a couple of Iron Maiden and Pantera covers.

Feb. 5

Ric’s Grill — James Oldenburg

Owl Acoustic Lounge — L.A. Beat open jam

Feb. 6

Bordello — A Thought in Three Parts $20 8 p.m.

Cotton Blossom Lounge- James Oldenburg

Feb. 7

Mocha Cabana — Bridgette Yarwood and Jason Eveleigh

Ric’s Grill — Bryant Watson Duo

Bordello — A Thought in Three Parts $20 8 p.m.

Casino Lethbridge — Texas Flood

Jimmy’s Pub — open mic

Wolf’s Den — bluegrass jam

Owl Acoustic Lounge — Ross Neilsen

Slice — HBO3 First Friday 5-7 p.m.

Feb. 8

Casino Lethbridge — Texas Flood

Mocha Cabana — Lindsay May with Jodi Doidge

Southminster United Church — Matt Andersen $30 advance, $35 at door

Yates — Save Chinatown variety show with Coal Creek Boys

Ric’s Grill — Cal Toth

Slice — Hurtin’

Bordello — A Thought in Three Parts $20 8 p.m.

Bossmans’s — Tank Town, Mangy the Mangy Mutts the Scallywags $5

Owl Acoustic Lounge — Windborn

House Concert — Eric the Electrician

Feb. 10

Average Joe’s — Young Guns tour with Brett Kissel and One More Girl $25 8:30 p.m.

OWl Acoustic Lounge — open mic

Feb. 11

Slice — open mic

Feb. 12

Slice — jazz jam with HBO 3

Ric’s Grill — Bridgette Yarwood

Feb. 13

Cotton Blossom Lounge — James Oldenburg

OWl Acoustic Lounge — Trivial Night

Feb. 14

Slice — CKXU Loves You

Cotton Blossom Lounge — James Oldenburg 6-10 p.m.

Owl Acoustic Lounge — Karen Romanchuk

Jimmy’s Pub — open mic

Wolf’s Den — open mic

Mocha Cabana — Dale Ketcheson

Ric’s Grill — Bryant Watson Duo

Casino Lethbridge — Kixxsin

Honkers — Open mic with Steve Keenan

Studio 54 — Madchild and guests $25

Feb. 15

Inferno — Death Pledge, Obsidian Soul, Form 9 Killing Redemption 7 p.m. $5

Owl Acoustic Lounge — Go For the Eyes with The Revival

Casino Lethbridge — Kixxsin

Mocha Cabana — Dale Ketcheson

Moose Hall — Lethbridge Folk Club John Wort Hannam and band with Jared Rusty Klok

Ric’s Grill — Cal Toth

Feb. 16

Enmax Centre — Dean Brody with Cassadee Pope Crop Circles and Tractor Beams

Average Joe’s — Honeymoon Suite with the Raw Dogs

Slice— Kytami

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