It is a unique week in Lethbridge for live music.
A lot of music happens courtesy of the Lethbridge Kiwanis Music and Speech Arts Festival which continues until April 12 with a variety of young musicians and actors performing every day at eight different venues including the Yates Memorial Centre, Écolé Agnes Davidson, the Lethbridge Public Library Gallery, the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Southminster United Church, St. Augustine Church and The St. Augutines Hall plus St. Patrick’s Fine Arts Elementary school (80 River Green Road West).
There are a lot of school bands, the Lethbridge Community Silver band and much more.
Programs are available for $10 at Long and McQuade and the Music Court, which are also a pass for the entire festivals. Otherwise, sessions cost $2 each to attend.
As always it is a great week for local music, with Hippodrome returning to Casino Lethbridge, April 4 and April 5 where they will be playing energetic R and B, soul and disco music.
The Slice has a variety of music this week with a big rock show, April 2 featuring Edmonton punk band The Slates who are celebrating the release of their new CD “Taiga,” which they recorded with Steve Albini.
They will be performing with Regina pop punk band These Estates and local bands the Ruby Plumes, Advertisement and the Yeah Dads. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door.
The Slice goes country/roots the next day with Toronto musician Jerry Leger and his band the Situation, who play April 3.
The Slice rings in April with an early and free First Friday show, April 4 featuring local jazz trio HBO3, which begins at 5 p.m
The Owl Acoustic Lounge also has an excellent start to April with Vancouver alternative rock band Pigeon Park playing the L.A. Beat jam, April 2. The Owl Acoustic Lounge open a new art show, April 4 with live music as Peep Show/Lenin and Trotsky opens.
They also have a couple of excellent folk acts with Bowen Island, B.C.-based folk/bluegrass, roots and country musician Sarah Jane Scouten and her band performing April 5.
The Owl Acoustic Lounge is also bringing in Moose Jaw songwriter Megan Nash and Yukon songwriter Mary Caroline to play their Monday open mic night, April 7 as well. There is no cover for any of these shows.
There is a big metal/punk show show at the Moose Hall, April 5 for Mandi’s metal birthday, which features Calgary punk/classic metal band the Press Gang, Saskatchewan stoner metal band Chronobot, Taber metal/country band The Mangy Mutts, Calgary thrash metal bands Arsenal and Shrapnal, Calgary trio Triton and thrash punk band X-Ray Cat. There is a $10 cover for the show.
The all ages show begins at 6 p.m.
And if you are on the road, Canadian folk singer Connie Kaldor returns to Southern Alberta to play the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod, April 3 and April 4. at 7:30 p.m. each night. Kaldor is a three-time Juno Award winner and an Order of Canada recipient. Her concerts begin at 7:30 p.m., Tickets cost $32.50.
Lethbridge Community Silver Band among performers at Kiwanis Festival
The Lethbridge Community Silver Band will be giving Kiwanis Music and Speech Arts Festival a taste of its April 26 annual greatest hits concert with a performance in the Yates April 8 at 7 p.m.
The festival is not just about children.
Silver Band Conductor Sam Yamamoto, who has eight entries in the festival including 80 band students from Magrath in the Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8 bands, choir and other categories, also leads the silver band in its sixth annual performance at the festival.
“For me, it’s all in a day’s work,” he said.
“I just think of it as a natural part of the season, part of the school year and part of what we do as community members,” he continued.
“For the students it’s an opportunity for Magrath to perform in Lethbridge. It is important to get another perspective and perform in front of people who will give them feedback who are not myself,” he said.
He noted the biggest challenge is getting everybody prepared to the performance level he expects of them.
The Silver Band is part of the Lethbridge Community Band Society (LCBS). Members pay an annual fee to be part of the band which rehearsesevery Tuesday at CASA from 7:30-9:30 p.m. It has 42 members.
This year members are performing “E Flat March” by Gustaf Holst, “Air for Band” by Frank Erickson, “The Washington Post March” by Souza and Symphonic Beatles — a medley of The Beatles greatest hits.
These selections and several more will be on the playlist for their April 26 concert at CASA.
Jerry Leger and the Situation spread roots to new places
Toronto country/folk songwriter Jerry Leger and his Situation are hitting a lot of new places on their cross Canada in support of his seventh studio CD “Early Riser,” which they recorded with the Cowboy Junkies’ Michael Timmins.
They come to Lethbridge for the first time to play the Slice, April 3.
“It sounds great,” said Leger from his Toronto home, getting ready for the tour.
“It comes out in little over a month. We just got the test pressings,” he said adding they also released the record on vinyl.
He enjoyed working with Timmins.
“We’ve never worked with Mike before. But immediately it was like we were of the a like state of mind,” he said.
“We both wanted the same thing. We were on the same page. He just allowed us to go where we wanted to go which is being a good producer.”
Timmins also mixed the album, which took some time, but the actual recording only took four days.
“That’s the way I like to do things. I can’t spend four months refining songs,” he continued.
“There are a couple that I have been playing for a few years. I’ve just got a certain feel,” he said.
The subject matter and style is pretty much the same.
“It’s really just like the others. There is a lot of heartbreak and more heartbreak,” he said.
He is excited to play Lethbridge.
“I’m playing a lot of places I haven’t played before. I’ve never played Lethbridge so I’m looking forward to it. I don’t know what to expect,” he said.
He will be focusing on the new record for the show.
“I imagine you will be hearing a lot of the new album and songs from the other records. There aren’t any rules, the show is different every night. We’ll see what the audience is like. But there are always songs that haven’t been on any record and songs I haven’t played before. Being on the road is a good way to try them,” he said.
Edmonton’s The Slates record with grunge icon Steve Albini
Edmonton band The Slates sound like they would be at home in the ’90s with a sound reminiscent of alt rock bands like Bush.
It is no surprise as they produced their latest CD “Taiga” with Steve Albini in his Chicago studio. Albini has recorded a few bands you might have heard of like The Black Emperor, The Jesus Lizard, Godspeed You and a little band called Nirvana.
But Albini just let the Slates loose to do what they do best — rock.
“He isn’t really a producer. He’s an engineer. He’s a pretty stress-free producer,” said frontman James Stewart.
“So he set up microphones in all of these different ways an got out of the way and let us play,” said Stewart on his way to work at a video store.
The band is touring to take advantage of drummer and teacher Dallas Thompson’s time off for spring break. Guitarist Stefan Duret and bassist Lee Klippenstein complete the band’s lineup.
“He’s a really hands-off producer. Some producers will want to help craft songs but he doesn’t and we didn’t want that anyway,” he continued.
“He was really nice. He was really cool. He told us all of these stories,” he said.
They completed Taiga, which was released Feb. 25, in only six days.
“We did a lot of work on the songs before,” he said, adding the CD perfectly captures the Slates‘ sound.
“It’s getting pretty good response. We’re very pleased with it. It’s exactly what we sound like,” he said.
They are excited to return to Lethbridge ridge.
“We play the Owl Acoustic Lounge before. It was a real eyeopener. It was a lot of fun. it was really cool,” he said.
The Slates, Yeah Dads, Advertisement, the Ruby Plumes and Regina pop punk band These Estates play the Slice, April 2 at 9 p.m.
Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door.
Moose Jaw musician Megan Nash of the indie rock band PandaCorn is on the road again with old friend, Yukon musician Mary Caroline.
“I really need to just stay home and record a new album, but this is what I love to do– be on the road and play music for people,” said Nash, warming up her hands in the van after playing a 45-minute set at the Long John jamboree on a frozen lake in Yellowknife.
“And I’m playing later today in a heated building at the Top Knight,” said Nash, in the middle of a three-week tour which comes to the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Monday, April 7.
“It is a lot more difficult to play outside in the cold than I thought it would be. But it is so much fun,” she observed.
The duo will be touring a lot around the Northwest Territories and the Yukon as well as Saskatchewan.
“Mary Caroline is doing most of the driving up here, but I’m playing a lot of places I haven’t played before,” she said adding they will be mid way through the tour when they get to Lethbridge.
“I have a whole bunch of new songs I’ve been writing and ’I’ll have a bunch more stories,” she said.
“And I think Mary Caroline is writing a lot now, too,” she continued.
Mary Caroline and Megan Nash begin their show at approximately 9:30 p.m. There is no cover.
Junkman’s Choir Kilts up for Cancer
Lethbridge roots/jazz/folk band the Junkman’s Choir helped raise cash and awareness for male-specific cancer at the Slice, March 26.
An intimate audience hung out until the end as Junkman’s Choir played a solid set of Celtic, traditional music and originals including their submission for the CBC Searchlight competition.
Fiddle player Megan Brown sang a couple of the songs while frontman George Fowler hung out in the shadows and sang most of the set while adding excellent rhythm guitar and the odd guitar electric solo. They got the audience to sing along on one of the traditional songs
Marshall Lawrence plugs in and tears it up
I’ll admit I’m a little bit of a stamp tramp as I like pretty much everything I hear, but some acts really stand out for me like Edmonton bluesman Marshall Lawrence, who brought his brand new band through a veritable blizzard to play for a disgraceful five or maybe 10 people, at The Slice, March 22.
It is a good thing he has a sense of humour and isn’t much put off by poor turnouts.
The man is amazing enough when just accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, but sizzles when he plugs in and turns it up. He did just that through two superb sets (I missed his opening acoustic set) of original blues songs and blues classics.
He beamed from ear to ear and wandered into the audience with his bassist Maurie Jarvis.
Lawrence didn’t miss a note as he wandered behind the bar and ordered a couple of shots then meandered back to the stage among the audience as the bartender followed him with the shots.
He played a lot of new songs and transformed some of the more acoustic rockers off his previous acoustic albums into high powered, electrifying blues rockers.
“I love all of you,” Lawrence cried to the “small but powerful crowd.”
His third set amped up the intensity into more blaring, psychedelic blues rock jams which had everyone in the room cheering.
Around one in the morning, he was still playing and wandered out into the snow playing with Jarvis.
When plugged in, he reminded me a lot of Irish bluesman Rory Gallagher.
He returned inside and invited the audience onto the stage with him to sing “I Want to Make Love To You” to finish his show before a long drive back to Edmonton.
Mudmen rock the bagpipes
There was a good-sized crowd at Average Joes, March 22 getting into the Scottish spirit and spirits with dual bagpipe-powered Celtic rock band the Mudmen.
I caught the tail end of their energetic first set which had a quite a few people dancing in front of the stage.
In addition to their own high octane rockers, they added intense versions of classics like AC DC’s “Long Way To the Top,” and rocked up classics like “Whiskey in the Jar.”
Brothers Sandy and Rob Campbell towered on each side of the stage as they blew their pipes while keeping out of the way of bassist Mario Bozza, who was a blast to watch as he leaped around and did high kicks.
Frontman Steven Gore stood centre stage howling out the vocals, though he would pick up a guitar for their second set.
In the background multi-instrumentalist Anthony Albanese added extra instruments including banjo, bouzouki and mandolin to enhance the traditional feel of the night.
The Chevelles help out Wilson Middle School
Local rock band the Chevelles held a massive party at Average Joes, March 21 to help raise money for the Wilson Middle School Outdoors Fitness Centre program, which would cost approximately $150,000.
The $10 tickets and the approximately 400 people in attendance put them well on their way to achieving that goal. Frontman Tim Carter noted most of the band members attended Wilson Middle School and were glad to play a show to help out their old alma mater.
The Chevelles, as always, were affable hosts who played pretty much note-perfect covers of all the hits from Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town,” and rock and roll standards like Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild.”
The party was well on its way as they got the entire room singing along with Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”
Bryant-Watson Duo add more soul to set
I hadn’t seen Lethbridge folk duo Joel Bryant and Pete Watson so I was glad I caught their March 21 set at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, where they had pretty much a full house enjoying appealing melodies, a few originals and laid back covers of hits from band like the Black Crowes’ “Hard To Handle.”
They had more of a pop and soul feel than their usual country and folk sound which appealed to the crowd, who applauded and cheered loudly after each song.
CKXU kicks off successful FunDrive
University of Lethbridge-based community alternative radio station CKXU officially kicked off their annual FunDrive by going country, March 21 at the Slice.
FunDrive is the time of year CKXU volunteers take to the airwaves and go into the community holding events to raise a little cash to “boost the signal” as per this year’s slogan and buy necessary items needed around the radio station like microphones, computer upgrades, CD players and record players. Their country night gave them a good start and was good entertainment as local alternative rock acts like Planet Telex and Cosmic Charley tried their hands at playing country music.
Planet Telex played a hot set of modern country music and then tackled the always entertaining and obscene “the Rodeo Song,” before ending their set by countrifying Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades.”
Country cats Treeline and Shaela Miller showed everyone how it was supposed to be done by playing a solid set with a revamped lineup of more outlaw country songs.
Lead vocalist Ryan Dyck was also playing bass for their set, as lead vocalist Shaela Miller remained on rhythm guitar. Tyler Bird was on drums and Taylor Ackerman added another rhythm guitar.
They sang a lot of two stepping songs mostly about drinking and carousing, but didn’t play many of their own songs for this set.
CKXU easily surpassed their goal of raising $12,000 near the end of their Fundrive week activities finishing with a total of $13,390 in pledges alone.
The Slice — Slates CD release with The Ruby Plumes, Advertisement and the Yeah Dads $8 advance, $10 door
Owl Acoustic Lounge-L.A. Beat Open jam with Pigeon Park
Slice — Jerry Leger and the Situation
Cotton Blossom Lounge — james Oldenburg
Empress Theatre — Connie Kaldor
Casino Lethbridge — Hippodrome
Wolf’s Den — bluegrass jam
Honker’s — open jam with Steve Keenan
Jimmy’s Pub — open mic
Slice — HBO3 First Friday
Owl Acoustic Lounge—Peep Show/ Lenin and trotsky art show opening with live music
Casino Lethbridge — Hippodrome
Moose Hall — ‘Metal Birthday Party with the Press Gang, Chronobot, Mangy Mutts, Arsenal, Triton, Shrapnal and X-Ray Cat
Owl — Sarah jane Scouten
Owl Acoustic Lounge — open mic Mary Caroline and Megan Nash
Slice — open mic
Slice — Jazz jam with HBO 3
Owl Acoustic Lounge — L.A. Beat open jam
Slice — Romi Mayes $10
Slice — Jesse and the Dandelions with the Provincial Archive
Casino Lethbridge — Soup of Flies
Wolf’s Den — open mic Lethbridge Folk Club
Jimmy’s Pub — open mic
Honkers Pub — Blues jam with Steve Keenan
Average Joe’s — Duelling Pianos with Cal Toth
Owl Acoustic Lounge — The Ashley Hundred