There is more great music happening this week than ever before.
Things begin on a high note Feb. 26 with lots of great blues supplied by Juno and Maple Blues Award-winning Ottawa trio MonkeyJunk, who play a Geomatic Attic show at the Lethbridge College Barn.
Also on the weekend, University of Lethbridge-based community radio station CKXU celebrates10 years on the air with a big, free party in the U of L Zoo with CR Avery and Jesse and the Dandelions, who return home for a show.
Other performers include Calgary band Night Committee and Edmonton pop musician Doug Hoyer. There is no cover and there will be free food. Everything begins at 8 p.m. You must have a valid student ID to attend or accompany someone with a valid student ID.
Downtown, Lethbridge blues/rock band Zojo Black returns to the Slice to play the blues, Feb. 28.
If you want to dance, Shambhala 2013 headliner Mat The Alien is at Studio 54 with local DJs Pez and DJ Rick Sharma plus Victoria DJ Neon Steve, Feb. 28. Tickets cost $15 before 10 p.m., $20 after. It begins at 9 p.m. The show was to take place at Essies but has been relocated to Studio 54.
For more world-based dance, Lise Anne Talhami and the Ammena Dance company present their annual Explosion of World Dance and music at the Yates Memorial Centre, Feb. 28 and March 1. The shows begin at 7 p.m. each night. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for children.
March begins on a high note with several shows including a big rock show with Calgary indie-rock band the Dudes plus the Ruby Plumes playing Scores, March 1. Advance tickets cost $20.
The Smokehouse loves their day-long events, so this week they are happy to present Rock N The Nations VII, a free day-long celebration of live music, fashion and First Nations culture.
As of Feb. 21, the event begins at 3 p.m. with Mandy Fox performing at 3 p.m.. The rest of the day is as follows: 3:20-3:40 Jolene Draper; 3:40-4:10 TBA; 4:15-4:45 Undercovered; 4:55-5:25 Driving While Blind; 5:30-6:00 TBA; 6:10-6:40 TBA; 6:45-7:15 TBA;7:20-7:50 CaRazAy; 7:55-8:05 Fashion show; 8:05-8:30 Billy Vegas; 8:35-9:05 Mark Hall Band; 9:05-9:15 fashion show; 9:15-9:45 Young Medicine; 9:25-9:55 Armond Duck Chief; 9:55-10:05 Fashion show; 10:05-10:35 Junkman’s Choir; 10:40-11:10 Kiit Blues; 11:15-11:35 Stevie Heavy and 11:40-12:20 TBA.
For something a little more laid back, Juno award-winning flamenco/world guitarist Jesse Cook brings the last leg of his Blue Guitar Sessions tour to the Yates Centre, March 2. Tickets are $50 for the show which begins at 7:30 p.m.
Also on March 2, the Geomatic Attic presents Winnipeg-based songwriter Del Barber. Tickets cost $25 in advance, $27.50 online and $30 at the door.
This weekend, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 28 and March 1, 2 Cubic Feet returns play some rock music at the Casino.
The Owl Acoustic Lounge has Edmonton-based indie rock band Two Bears North. The Owl is also trying out a comedy Open Mic on Feb. 26 during which everybody is welcome to get on stage and perform a skit, tell a joke, do a routine and try to inspire lots of laughs.
One man who is sure to inspire laughter this week is Brent Butt, best known for his TV show “Corner Gas.” He performs his standup routine at the Yates Memorial Centre, Feb. 4.
And, there is a big rock show next week as the Goo Goo Dolls tear up the Enmax Centre March 3 with special guests Autumns Cannon. The show begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $50-$70.
Average Joe’s steps up to help accident victim
Though it isn’t for a week, Average Joe’s has something special planned for March 6 — a fundraiser featuring well-known songwriter Tebey Ottoh and Leah Daniels, for their cook Lorne Miller, who is in critical condition in Foothills Hospital in Calgary after being hit by a car while cycling home from work Jan. 26.
The community of Lethbridge has already stepped forward to help him and his young family. People have donated cash and gift cards and even offered rides for his wife and four children (two still at home) to go to Calgary to visit him in Foothills Hospital.
People are stepping up again to buy tickets to the fundraiser.
“The public really stepped up. I couldn’t believe it,” said Average Joe’s manager Tim Carter.
“He’s still in a coma and is still on life support. He’s paralyzed on the left side with lots of complications,” Carter related.
Though Miller was only at Average Joe’s for a year, he made a huge impact on everybody he met.
“He was a big, vibrant teddy bear who would do anything for anyone. He was so nice and positive. His presence at the bar is terribly missed. We’d do anything to have him back. He was a great guy. He really was an ‘average joe,’” Carter continued.
“He was a hard-working family man, so that resonated with a lot of people. That could have happened to anyone,” he said.
“The public has stepped up huge. So we decided to take it up to the next level,” Carter said.
There will also be a silent auction. Donations are starting to come in, with more on the way.
Toronto-born, Nashville-based Tebey Ottah has written hits for pop stars One Direction, Big and Rich, Emerson Drive, Doc Walker and Shawn Desman. He has also released two solo records.
The show begins at 9 p.m. March 6. Tickets cost $15.
Del Barber sings about the country meeting the city
Manitoba songwriter Del Barber is a product of his environment — the country meets the city. So he wanted to reflect that on his fourth CD, “Prairieography,” by microphoning a grain silo to use as an echo chamber.
He is in the middle of a Canadian tour which dips into the United States for the Folk Alliance in Kansas City, then comes to Lethbridge March 2 where he will play the Geomatic Attic with the Bros. Landreth.
“I wanted to incorporate agricultural infrastructure into the album because I grew up next to that,” said Barber, calling from a ferry to Vancouver.
“We climbed up to to top of the silo and chased out the pigeons and whatnot and set up microphones on different places on the silo to record the different echoes, then we applied them to each track,” he described.
“It turned out a lot better than I was expecting it to,” he said, adding he always likes to try new things with his music.
He always tells stories in his songs.
“I write about the rural-urban divide in Canada. I feel like it is growing a lot. And there is a lot about leaving,” he continued.
“It’s a return to storytelling. I’ve always taken a narrative approach to my songs. I never write about myself. But all of the people in my songs are people I know. As a 30-year-old white man living in the suburbs, I don’t think my voice is as important as these people,” he said.
While he sometimes plays with a band, this tour has been solo.
“But I get to experience what I am experiencing. I get to explore Canada. I’ve been driving in the worst winter weather this year,” he said.
“My songs are a return to storytelling. I tell stories and there is a lot of humour,” he said.
“My songs are based around the stories rather than vice versa,” he said.
The show begins at the Geomatic Attic at 8 p.m. March 2. Tickets cost $25 in advance, $27.50 online and $30 at the door.
Jesse Cook to play unique brand of Flamenco and world music
Toronto-based world/flamenco guitarist Jesse Cook has carved a niche out for himself as a square peg in a round hole playing his own brand of flamenco and world music since starting out back in 1995.
He returns to Lethbridge March 2 to play the Yates Centre.
“When I started in 1995, I had one album that was 45 minutes longs and it wasn’t enough for an entire show, so I had to play Gipsy King covers and pop songs to fill it out. Now I have records to choose from, which is great,” said Cook, getting errands done before beginning the last leg of the Blue Guitar tour — the tour in support of his “unapologetically sad” “Blue Guitar Sessions” CD which was released in 2012. This tour takes him across Alberta and B.C., plus several dates in the U.S. and even over to Russia.
He is touring with his longtime band including Chris Church on violin, Chendy Leon playing percussion, bassist Dennis Mohammed and guitarist Nicholas Hernandez.
“And Nicholas and I both have our big flamenco guitars hooked up to synthesizers. But everything you hear is played live. I don’t understand why people would want pre-recorded tracks and come and watch a machine perform them,” he said.
“I’m a big fan of Peter Gabriel who uses layers of sounds,” he said, adding they can add different sounds like sitars and loop them so they play behind the guitars
“I want to be the Phil Spector of world music,” he said.
After that he will begin a new tour in support of his most recent PBS special “Jesse Cook at the Bathurst Theatre,” which was filmed last May. It will be replayed a lot in March.
“It is a pretty similar show to the show we will be playing in Lethbridge. We were in the middle of changing the set. So we were relearning new old songs,” he said.
He is pleased PBS is behind his career.
“When you play weird, off-the-beaten-path world music like we do, there’s no real place to support us, so to have a big station like PBS get behind us is miraculous,” he said.
While a lot of people have observed “The Blue Guitar Sessions” is a departure for Cook, he disagreed as he’s recorded albums with very diverse world influences.
“My music is usually loud and bombastic. There is a definite jazz influence, but even though it is called the ‘Blue Guitar Sessions,’ it is definitely not a blues guitar record. It is an unapologetically quiet and melancholy record. It’s the kind of record you put on in the morning and listen to with your coffee or when you are wallowing in self-pity at 2 a.m. because your girlfriend just dumped you. Wherever people play records like this,” he said.
He said it has been a success and the tours on the record have been successful.
“People don’t buy records anymore. Soon they’ll have to give gold records for pirate bay downloads,” he chuckled.
He hasn’t been to Lethbridge for a few years.
“I actually have family in Lethbridge. My uncle married a Lethbridge woman, and I actually had a roommate who was from Lethbridge. But it’s been about five years,” he said.
Jesse Cook plays the Yates Centre March 2 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $50.
Big things afoot for Autumns Cannon
Ottawa-based band Autumns Cannon have struck it a little lucky, but they have also worked hard.
Not only did they record half of their new CD “Open Letter” with Gord Sinclair of the Tragically Hip in their Bathouse Studio in Almonte, Ont., and the other half with Hot Hot Heat’s Steve Bays, they also opened for ZZ Top in the fall and will be opening for the Goo Dolls on their Canadian tour, which brings them to the Enmax Centre, March 3.
“We’re looking forward to it. We’re just getting the final preparations done. So it’s stressful. It’s 10 days from Ottawa to Vancouver,” said Autumn Cannon bassist Mark LaForest, adding they are excited about their band’s first tour with the Goo Dolls, which their booking agent put together.
“I don’t know how it works behind the scenes but we did a tour with ZZ Top in the fall, so we must have impressed enough people that we were able to get this one,” he said, adding that was a great experience.
“It was great. It was a great way to break into that scene. We got everything. We got catering and roadies, all of those things,” he said.
“And we got to meet Billy Gibbons a couple of times and all he wanted to do was talk about guitars. It was one of those things. We didn’t believe our manager when he called and told us about it,” he continued.
They have also opened for bands like April Wine, Big Wreck and Tom Cochrane.
“I have to choose my words carefully, but our sound isn’t exactly modern. We get a lot of comparisons to Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, so maybe that’s why we resonate with those audiences,” he said.
They are excited about ending the tour in Vancouver, not only where their management and record company 604 Records is, but it is also the home of lead singer Shaun Francisco who moved to Ottawa from Vancouver about five years ago, then met drummer Mike Hogg and then keyboardist/ guitarist Marty Sobb, guitarist Nick Beaton and Laforest.
He said Autumns Cannon’s set is all about the songs.
“We’re just five dudes playing good rock and roll music,” he said.
“We focus on melodies. There’s no fireworks or girls in polka-dotted dresses,” he said.
Autumns Cannon and the Goo Goo Dolls show begins at 8 p.m. at the Enmax Centre, March 3. Tickets are $50-$70.
Dean Brody impressive on Crop Circles tour
I don’t usually check out concerts in the Enmax Centre. The narrow seats aren’t built for a bigger fellow like me who eats three square meals a day and drinks twice as many beers.
But I was impressed with Canadian country singer Dean Brody, Feb. 16, who turned the hockey rink into a giant kitchen party. But first, Brody dubbed Florida-based singer Cassadee Pope an “honorary Canadian Girl” for playing her first Canadian shows — six in six days starting in Newfoundland through some of the harshest winter weather we’ve seen in some time.
A fanfare of a few bars of the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” brought her on stage as she sang an appealing set of country pop music as she strutted across the stage like a young Shania Twain, which was emphasized by a hot cover of “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” which emphasized how much she reminded me of Twain. She had a huge voice with just a touch of sass.
Brody began his show with a brief video of himself in an animated UFO talking to his alien friend “Jimmy,” telling him “Friends don’t probe friends,” and eventually having him dropping him back on Earth. The screen showed a graphics of crop circles from all over the world as Brody began his set with the title track off his latest CD. He followed it up with bigger hits “Dirt” and “People Know You By Your First Name.”
Brody played all the hits from his albums, the kitchen party part of the night began with my favourite part of the show — “Mountain Man,” before which the lights went down as the band changed hats and instruments. They they came on again, the bassist played tuba, the banjo and mandolin came to the forefront while Brody alternated between playing guitar and cracking a set of antlers together for extra percussion. He sounded a lot like Brad Paisley but without the guitar pyrotechnics.
Cassadee Pope joined him on stage to sing a duet of “Bounty” from his latest CD “Crop Circles.”
The video display was excellent, displaying videos and suitable images like pickup trucks from “Four Wheel Drive,” and the occasional song title. Most of the audience sang along with songs like “Roll That Barrel Out” and party anthems like “It’s Friday.” There was a lot of Celtic influence on several songs including “It’s Friday.”
Most of audience erupted in cheers every time he mentioned he was originally from Jaffray, B.C.
Another popular song was “Bob Marley,” which he followed up by playing Bob Marley’s “One Love” after a brief excerpt with Bob Marley the video screen about “what is wealth.” The most moving part of the show was “Brothers,” which he began just singing and backed by gorgeous Hammond organ.
He told lots of stories. He ended his show with his first hit “Dirt Road Scholar.”
I had to leave to catch a couple other shows, but I’m sure he returned for an encore of “Canadian Girl,” one of his biggest hits.
The show was a “celebration” of the simple life all the way through with thoughtful stories and plenty of catchy, singalong choruses which had audience members crowing “That’s my song!” The TV show “Duck Dynasty” was mentioned a couple of times, which also got the crowd cheering.
Honeymoon Suite celebrate the ’80s
It was a hot long weekend Sunday, Feb. 16, so a good-sized crowd wanted to celebrate it ’80s style at Average Joe’s, as Canadian classic rockers Honeymoon Suite returned to Lethbridge.
While I missed opening act the Raw Dogs, Honeymoon Suite delivered exactly what was expected — hits and lots of them. They have quite a few to choose from and played them all. Everyone was blissfully singing along to “Wave Babies,” “Stay In The Light,” “Feel it Again” and lots more plus more obscure tracks like the spunky “Shot Through the Heart.”
There was plenty of keyboard solos and lead singer Johnnie Dee, who still has a fabulous voice, played a lot more guitar, taking turns playing with lead guitarist Derry Grehan. Johnnie Dee even played a very pretty guitar intro to “Wave Babies.”
Of course, they had plenty of their famous ballads like “What Does it Take,” which also had the audience singing.
Kytami takes violin to new dimensions
Even though I’d rather carve out my eardrums with a dull spoon than listen to dance music, I love to see something new and exciting — like Vancouver violin ace Kytami, who helped found World meets Celtic meets dance band Delhi 2 Dublin.
I knew Kytami would take the violin to strange new places as she did at the Slice, Feb. 16. She blended classical music with a whole lot of pop accompanied and thudding dance beats by DJ Generic. She even had rapper Mishap perform a guest spot with her.
While most of her set was instrumental, she showed some really nice singing chops as well. She leaped from side to side on the stage while playing some amazing violin-straddling multiple genres. She had several guitar effects hooked up to her violin which sounded out of this world as she proved a wall of strings.
Yet it wasn’t just incredibly fast fiddle playing, though some of it was. She also played some really beautiful classically inspired melodies, which were simply breathtaking.
Shaela Miller and Andrew Scott entertain
I missed most of Andrew Scott and Shaela Miller’s Feb. 15 show at the Slice, but caught the last set of Scott backed by Kyle Harmon on drums and a banjo player plus Celeigh Cardinal putting their own stamp on an array of covers.
Cardinal got to shine, particularly on a sultry version of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy.” She also shone on a version of Janis Joplin’s gritty “Me and Bobby McGee.”
Andrew Scott and the band did a medley of popular hits including a reggae flavoured version of Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How it Feels” mixed in with a few bars of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” which also had a reggae touch.
Go For the Eyes go ’60s with the Revival
I caught just the last song of Winnipeg rock band the Revival at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Feb. 15.
Their last songs was an energetic upbeat rock number which had an ’80s and ’90s feel to.
But the band I wanted to see was the always fabulous Go For The Eyes.
For this visit they had more of a ’60s sound and featured lots of appealing organ played by Elise Roller. They showed their influences from ’60s rock to sultry pop with just a touch of blues. They played music off their most recent CD “Six Through 12” and some brand new songs.
They were excellent as always. Roller has a fantastic voice which complemented guitarist Jeff Turner’s vocals.
As usual she ended the show by ordering a shot and using the shot glass to play a noisy, messy slide guitar solo, ending a steadily building, energetic show on a high note.
Death Pledge and friends bring metal to Inferno
I don’t get to a lot of shows at Inferno, but was interested to see how a big metal show would do.
I missed most of the bands, Feb. 15 as the show actually started early, so I missed most of the bands on the bill including Obsidian Soul, Form 9 and Killing Redemption, because the show started early.
I arrived just in time to hear another hot set from local metal band Death Pledge, who played thunderously loud as always with huge riffs.
Always impressive was lead singer Phil Sirias’ vocals, ranging from deep-throated growls to air raid siren-level piercing shrieks, sometimes in the same song. Yet even that massive voice was lost in the volume of the thudding bass and drums.
CKXU loves you again and again
I missed most of the excitement of CKXU Loves You, Feb, 14 at the Slice — the University of Lethbridge community radio station’s annual Valentine’s day celebration of all things love and anti-love. So I only caught most of The Ruby Plumes’ set. They were in a ’60s mood playing lots of songs from Kinks, the Who’ “Can’t Explain” and some old punk standards. Even past 1 a.m., they still had a decent-sized audience still dancing even past 1 in the morning.
Karen Romanchuk shares new songs
I haven’t heard Lethbridge folk/ country musician Karen Romanchuk play in quite a while, so I made a point of hearing her at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Feb. 14, with an intimate audience of approximately 15.
She had a variety of new music most of which will be on an album she will record later this month with Leeroy Stagger. She alternated between new music and covers of folks like Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams, whose voice she resembles.
She played Steve Earle’s “Someday,” followed by a haunting new original song “Road.” She also played a few older favourites like one of mine “Blue, Blue Heart” from her last CD “Dance.”
She also tackled Neil Young’s “Needle and the Damage Done” and followed it up with a great new song “Country Girl.” She even went a little blues with another original song.
Madchild in a great mood
I’m not much of a rap fan, but I sure appreciate it when Madchild, of the Swollen Members, comes to town as he did when he returned to Studio 54, Feb. 14.
He had a good-sized frothing crowd cheering and raising their hands and shouting along with most of his lyrics. There was a lot of crowd pumping and shouts of “raise your hands in the air,” which sure made me miss DJ Booda, who first brought Madchild to Lethbridge and who was a master at getting crowds worked up.
Madchild was in a great mood as he beamed and smiled and slapped hands with crowd members reaching out to the stage, cellphone camera in hand.
He debated with DJ Fuze about what tracks to play and got back in the groove.
Fallen Ones, City Prophets and Rise opened the show.
Lethbridge College Barn — MonkeyJunk With Paul Kype and Texas Flood $30 advance, $35 at door.
Ric’s Grill — James Oldenburg
Owl Acoustic Lounge — stand up comedy open mic
Average Joe’s — Prism
Cotton Blossom Lounge — James Oldenburg
Wolf’s Den — open mic
Jimmy’s Pub — open mic
Honkers — Open mic with Steve Keenan
Mocha Cabana — Randy Epp with Don Robb
Casino Lethbridge — 2 Cubic Feet
OWl Acoustic Lounge — Two bears North
Inferno — Strong V and Raymundo launch party
Slice — Zojo Black
U of L Zoo — CKXU 10th Anniversary party C.R. Avery, Jesse and the Dandelions
Studio 54 — Mat The Alien with Pez and Rick Sharma $15 9 p.m.
Streatside — James Oldenburg Paul Holden 5:30-8 pm.
Casino Lethbridge — 2 Cubic Feet
Mocha Cabana — Randy Epp with Don Robb
Ric’s Grill — Cal Toth
Scores — The Dudes $20
Smokehouse — Rock N the Nations
Yates Theatre — Jesse Cook $50
Geomatic Attic — Del Barber with the Bros Landreth $25 advance, $30 at door
Enmax — Goo Goo Dolls
Owl Acoustic Lounge — open mic
Yates — Brent Butt
Slice — open mic
Ric’s Grill — James Oldenburg
Owl Acoustic Lounge — L.A. BEat open jam
Average Joe’s — Tebey with Leah Daniels — fundraiser for the Miller Family $15
Cotton Blossom Lounge — James Oldenburg
Casino Lethbridge – Bandemonium
Mocha Cabana — Dana Honey
Ric’s Grill — Bryant Watson Duo
Slice — Windy Rock Compilations Planet Telex, Mormon Girls, Dirti Speshuls, Ruby Plumes, Junkman’s Choir, Betterhalf, The Palmers
Smokehouse — Daryll Düus and Papa King
Inferno — Bombs away $15 9 p.m.
The Vent — The 1st Bloody Metal Show of 2014 with: Death Toll Rising, Ides of Winter, Tramp Stamper
and Trancide. $10 at the door; Doors at 8 p.m., bands at 9 p.m.
Casino Lethbridge — Bandemonium
Mocha Cabana — Dana Honey
Ric’s Grill — Cal Toth
Smokehouse — open mic
Slice — Locomotive Ghost with the VOid
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Papa King and Darryl Düus
Sidelines (Coaldale) — Treeline and Shaela Miller with Hurtin 8 p.m. $15