Summer kicks off with several big events happening this weekend, though most of the week’s live music happens at Henderson Lake Park with the ATB Financial Lethbridge Rotary Dragon Boat Festival, June 24-26.
The usual cornucopia of local bands will be performing throughout the festival. The music begins at 5 p.m. on June 24 with local country musician Dusty Dee Litchfield, with the opening ceremonies following at 6 p.m. Blues rockers Paul Kype and Texas Flood follow, then the Desert Wind Belly dancers and Fast Times rock the night away at 8:30 p.m.
Dragon boat fun continues Saturday morning, June 25 at 11 p.m. with local ’90s rock acoustic trio Uncovered. They will be followed by the Rose Ceremony at noon. Local pop country songstress Alyssa McQuaid and her band return to the stage after that followed by the Hibikaya Japanese drummers, pop singers Nicole Donaghy-Hughes and Kelliane Litchfield, Exisdance, doc rock band DNR, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Cloggers, teenaged rock band Diversified, roots/country singer Karen Romanchuk and local rock band Suite 33 who play the last set of the day at 7 p.m.
The last day of dragon boats music, June 26, begins at 11 a.m. with the E Free Band followed by Shane Janzen, jazz pop from Bridgette Yarwood, bluesman Steve Keenan, the Urban Beat Dance Studio and Medicine Hat folk rock duo Mahoney at 3 p.m.
In between dragon boat races, there is a number of diverse shows happening all over the city.
Vancouver progressive rock group Bend Sinister return to the Slice to kick off the week, June 22.
Ottawa pop/rock band Hollerado return to Lethbridge to play Studio, June 24 with Toronto garage pop band Little Junior and local band the Utilities. Tickets cost $25. Doors open at 8 p.m.
Also on June 24, local country/roots band Rancho Deluxe play the Owl Acoustic Lounge. Jay Aymar returns to the Owl Acoustic Lounge, June 25 and Brandon based musician Shotgun Jimmie returns to the owl Acoustic Lounge with Human Music, Monday, June 27 in support of his new CD he recorded with Joel Plaskett called “Field of Trampolines.”
There is a bittersweet show at Club Didi, June 24 for improv fans as local improv troupe the Drama Nutz are calling it quits after 10 years with a big farewell show at Club Didi featuring members past and present. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. with local musician Nick Bohle playing a set. There is a $10 cover and tickets are going fast with only 30 left. Also on June 24 l’ AFCA régionalé de Lethbridge host St. Jean Baptisté Day at Pavan Park beginning at 5 p.m. with children”s activities like a bouncy castle, face painting and temporary tattoos, a barbecue and live music with Edmonton based Franco-Albertan world beat folk band Le Fuzz. There is no charge to attend the festivities.
Punk fans will be in their element this weekend as two big days of punk music to help celebrate promoter Alex Currie’s birthday at the Moose Hall, June 25 and 26.
They will both be all-ages gigs with a bar.
The June 25 show features Calgary favourites the Mother———s, plus Saskatoon punk band Good Enough and local bands Supernautic and Gender Bender.
The Sunday show features a passel of Vancouver-area punk bands including East Vancouver’s the Old Derelicts, Vancouver’s Poison Corn and Obscene Being and Nelson based ska-punk band Newtron Bomb.
Admission is $15 at the door, $12 in advance or $20 for both nights, which begin around 9 p.m.
There are a couple of early week punk and metal gigs as well.
The Slice features Vancouver thrash/punk duo Hedks and London, Ontario noise rock band Foam, June 27. There is a $5 cover.
Attainable Records has another punk and alternative rock show, June 28 featuring Victoria band Fountain, Guelph band Whoop Szo and local bands Participation and the Bummer Club. Tickets for the June 28 all ages gig cost $10. The show is at 8:30 p.m.
There are a variety of events happening throughout the week for the Lethbridge Pride Fest including movies, dances and movies.
Pride In the Park takes place in Galt Gardens at 12:30 p.m., June 25 after the Pride parade at noon at City Hall. Pride in the Park features a beer garden, live music, activities for the kids and vendors.
Hollerado to return with new music
Ottawa-based indie rock band Hollerado are returning to Lethbridge for the first time in a few years when they play Studio, June 24 and local indie rock band the Utilities and Toronto pop punk band Little Junior.
They are getting ready to release their new CD, but it got delayed due to a burst of creativity.
“We actually were ready to release it last year but we kept on writing,” said frontman Menno Versteeg, whose band mates include guitarist Nixon Boyd, drummer Jake Boyd and bassist Dean Baxter.
“We released the last one in 2013 so it’s been a long time. So we just had to stop ourselves and just release something. Not that we stopped writing. It was time to put out something. It’s being mixed now,” Versteeg continued, declining to describe the new music.
“That’s your job to describe it when we do release it. I’ve got into trouble for describing our music before,” he chuckled, adding he doesn’t know when the release date will be.
“But we love it. We feel good about it. We feel like we’re 17 again playing in the garage,” he said.
They recorded it with Gus Van Go, the same producer of their previous albums, in Toronto, New York as well as their own studio.
“We’re recording addicts,” he said.
“We’ve been playing gigs and recording and just enjoying hanging out with each other,” he said, adding they are looking forward to this quick tour.
“We’re only playing eight or nine dates but Little Junior are out for three weeks. They’ve driving out with our gear and we’re flying in. It’s easier that way for a band to share gear. There’s less to carry and we all help with load in,” he said.
“So show up early and catch Little Junior. They’re great. They play ’90s power pop and punk with a little grunge. I’m really excited for people to see them,” he said.
“They‘re going places.”
Hollerado plans to play a lot of new music during their set.
“We’re going to play new music. Six or seven brand new songs and people get upset if we don’t play the songs they know, so we’ll play a bunch of those too,” he said.
Hollerado, Little Junior and the Utilities play Studio, June 24 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $25.
Drama Nutz done after 10 years
Lethbridge improv group the Drama Nutz are calling it quits with a massive show at Club Didi, June 24.
“We‘re going out with a bang instead of with a whimper,” said artistic director David Gabert, who founded the troupe 10 years ago in 2006.
They were a regular fixture at Fort Whoop-Up with their summer gunfight productions and were familiar faces at countless community events as well as lucrative corporate gigs which have trickled out.
“Over the past 10 years, the Drama Nutz have had a lot of achievements. We’ve had a dedicated cast who have helped us do that,” said Gabert.
He took a job with the Canadian Mental Health Association and is the new general manager of Theatre Outré
“As life got busier, I haven’t had time to run my own group. I quickly realized we’ve been an active part of the community for 10 years and more and more people were asking us to volunteer our services and you can’t pay the bills that way. We want to pay our actors for their craft,” he said.
He said Drama Nutz veterans have taken their improv skills into the real world with them into a variety of different fields.
“I’d rather look at all of our accomplishments. We have people coming from Edmonton, Calgary and Medicine Hat who work in tourism, music teachers, high school teachers, students, a professional magician in Jeff Newman and me, I guess, a mental health professional. We’ve given them skills they still use to this day,” he said.
“For them, improv has become a life skill as much as it has become a professional skill,” he said reflecting on the troupe’s accomplishments.
“But ultimately being asked to play for exposure has lead to our demise. Exposure doesn’t pay the rent. We can’t afford to pay our performers and they should be paid for their craft,” he said, noting this show is a celebration of the past 10 years.
“We’re bringing back people from all 10 years. John McBurnie who was in the very first Drama Nutz season with me in 2006 up to the current troupe of talented students. There will be 16 of us gracing the stage,” he said, promising a marathon two-hour show of improv featuring all of the members performing familiar games from shows like “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and games they invented. They will also feature some of the troupe’s other big activities like their murder mysteries at Club Didi as well as their improvised soap opera “Gomorrah” and their space in the NAAG Gallery on the north side.
“It was shocking to see just how much we’d done as a troupe It was more of a challenge deciding what to do for the show and trimming it to two hours than it was to find material,” he said. “It’s been quite the experience,” he said.
“The show will be completely improvised based on audience suggestions so it can go absolutely anywhere,” he continued.
Local musician Nick Bohle will open the show at 7:30 with a solo set of music as well as playing music with the troupe.
He noted there will still be improv happening in Club Didi, just not under the Drama Nutz banner.
“It will be as Theatre Outré,” he said, adding the improvised soap opera “Gomorrah” will continue in the new season.
Tickets for the last Drama Nutz show cost $10. E-mail email@example.com or call 403-892-8719 for tickets.
War Baby excited to present new music
Vancouver rock trio War Baby are returning to Lethbridge, June 25 to play the Slice as part of their Don’t Happy Be Worry tour.
“I think the last time we played Lethbridge was for Love and Records. We were touring with the Invasives. It was in September and we played the Slice too,” recalled Calgary-born guitarist/vocalist Jon Redditt, who along with fellow Calgarian, bassist Brock Allen and Australian born drummer Kirby Fisher make up the band.
“We’re all Vancouver transplants, but I’ve been living here 10 years, so this feels like home. I still have a lot of friends in Calgary,” he said.
“The last time we were there with members of the band Savk. We didn’t get to see them play though because they were playing at the same time as us, but it was still rad to see them,” he continued.
“I remember the last show was super fun. Everyone was dancing,” he said, adding he is excited to return to Lethbridge.
“We’ve only been there a handful of times. Another band got added to the show called Cope,” he said.
“We’ll be playing the new music and music from our first LP Jesus Horse and the latest album Death Sweats,” he said.
War Baby recorded three new tracks with Jesse Gander of Rain City Recorders after winning a contest called Shindig from the UBC radio station CiTR.
“We don’t know what we’ll do with them yet, probably a seven inch, but we’re pretty stoked about them,” he said
War Baby released a Youtube game to go with the liner notes of the Death Sweats record.
“It was supposed to be a funny spoof of VHS board games in the ’80s and ’90s, which were board games you’d play with the tape. There were pretty popular then, but a lot of people don’t remember them now. There was one called ‘Nightmare’ and that video is direct spoof of that game because we like doing weird stuff like that,” he chuckled.
The soundtrack to that game is spooky, almost electronica music, but Redditt said it isn’t indicative of their new music.
“It definitely isn’t. The new music is similar to the old music, but it features more of all three of us. Like me and Brock trade off leads in it,” he said, adding they enjoyed working with Gander.
They are also playing there Sled Island Music Festival in Calgary on this tour.
“We‘re playing the Palomino on June 24 at like 6 p.m. then we’re in Lethbridge the next day at the Slice,” he said, adding they don’t think they will be able to stick around for much of Sled Island or even Lethbridge.
“We have to be in Thunder Bay by the 28th, so we’ll try to do as much of that drive as we can the next day,” he said.
War Baby and Cope play the Slice, June 25 at 10 p.m. There is a $10 cover for the show.
Shotgun Jimmie recorded new CD with Joel Plaskett
Toronto-born, Brandon, Manitoba-based musician Jim Kilpatrick best known as Shotgun Jimmie always has an interesting story to tell in our “annual conversation.”
He winds up a cross Canadian tour in support of his latest “Field Of Trampolines,” at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, June 27.
The new CD sounds like a new Joel Plaskett CD, which is not surprising as Placket produced it.
“I’ll take that as a compliment. He is all over it. He sings on it and he plays guitar on it,” said Kilpatrick, who just returned from a week visiting his partner in Iceland where she is doing an eight week art residency.
“It was so great. She had applied for that before I recorded this album, so I booked an extra eight days to go and visit here there and grab a cheaper flight over there, well cheaper than flying there from Brandon,” he said, noting he went to Iceland after doing the east coast swing in support of the CD.
“It’s so beautiful there and most people speak English there which is not surprising because tourism is so important there. I drove all around the island. I’d love to go back and play,” he continued, on the road to Sault Sté Marie. I was just thinking of Joel Plaskett because he has a lyric about hitting on a waitress in Sault Sté Marie. I was going to text him about it,” he said.
He is pleased with how the CD turned out.
“We recorded it in a record-breaking four days,” he said, adding it is different than his usual recording process.
“That’s rock and roll. There isn’t a lot of time to second guess anything,” he said, adding he hadn’t intended for the CD to sound like Plaskett.
“The way we intended it was to just record a hi fi Shotgun Jimmie album,” he said, adding he feels blessed to have so many talented friends like Plaskett.
“He’s an amazing friend. The fact he believes in the music is great,” he said.
“We took two days to track it and another two to mix and master it,” he said.
Shotgun Jimmie also appears on The Weakerthans’ John K Samson’s new CD.
“I’m playing on his album. I really feel blessed know some really cool people,” he said.
Winnipeg band Human Music will be backing him on the Western Canadian part of the tour including at their Lethbridge show, which will be the last show of the tour.
“Usually when I play Lethbridge, I’m doing my one-person band thing. So what I’m looking forward the most is bringing my A game with the full band. And it’s the last day of the tour so we’re going to really swing hard,” he said.
“We’ll blast through the CD and then play a few of the hits from my last few records,” he said.
“And we’re playing with Open Channels who we always play with in Lethbridge. They’re good friends of mine going back to 2001 or 2004. Jeff from Open Channels has an old picture of me from when we played together in 2005 or so and it’s hilarious because I look like a teenager. Well it was 12 years ago,” he laughed.
While he has played with Human Music’s bassist and drummer quite a lot, it has been a while since he brought the full band to Lethbridge.
“I haven’t played the Slice or Owl with them, but I played Freshfest at the university a few years ago and I played with all of them then,” he said.
“I’d never played with the guitarist before, but I’m playing with him because he plays with the other guys,” he said.
“Geographically, they’re the closest musical friends I have because they’re in Winnipeg and I’m in Brandon,” said Kilpatrick, who is attending art school in Brandon for two more years in between recording albums and touring.
There is bio cover for the show, which begins at 9 p.m.
Crooners and jazz at Starlight Lounge
The first big Lethbridge Jazz Fest show of the festival, June 16 brought a good sized crowd to the Lethbridge Lodge to hear a variety of local musicians perform old jazz standards as “Starlight Lounge.”
The stage was set up like a 1940s radio show, with vintage microphones set centre stage and on the left side of the stage for the host to introduce performers and crack the occasional joke.
A piano placed centre stage blocked the upright bassist and the drummer was hidden by a variety of cymbals and a music stand. The 17 band members sat behind black and silver placards emblazoned with a cursive S and L logo. They each stood for their solos which drew polite applause from the attentive audience. Several sharply dressed soloists appeared on the right hand of the stage as the host introduced them and their numbers.
I only caught part of the second set but was pleased to arrive in time for Jory Kohn’s stunning rendition of “Looking for a Place to Hang My Hat,” as the host joked she could hang her hat at his place any time. She stepped back mid song to let assorted band members solo. David Mikuliuk leaned on the piano to enjoy a short and sweet trumpet solo in the middle of his song.
New West Theatre veteran Jessica Ens sang a gorgeous version of “Skylark,” which drew applause from the audience.
I left for another gig mid set after enjoying watching George Gallant scamper all over the stage during his rendition of Nat King Cole’s crooner classic “Day in Day Out.”
Danny Michel entertains with stories and hits
I never like to miss a Danny Michel show, so I left the Starlight Lounge early to make sure I caught at least one set from him at the Slice, June 16.
The always affable Ontario musician, who always has a twinkle in his eye and whose voice bears an uncanny resemblance to Paul Simon, was his usual exuberant self, standing centre stage with his well worn red hollow body guitar. He weaved and bobbed around the microphone, grinned and cracked jokes with the receptive audience. I expected the Slice to be standing room only for the show, but sadly was not, though there were about 40 people who trickled in by the end of the first set.
A lot of the people had never seen him before as he found out when he asked them if he played “Whale of a Tale,” one of his really older crowd favourites the last time he visited.
While he is touring in support of his brand new 10th CD “Matadora,” his first set included mostly crowd favourites from his previous CDS.
He kicked off his set on a chipper note with one of my favourites “ This Feeling” from his 2010 CD “Sunset Sea.” He drew a lot of applause for his beautiful guitar solo, which seemed to surprise him.
Another one my favourites “Wish Willy” from the same CD was next, though he stopped mid song to tell the story of how he wrote it about an out of the way bar in Belize, not knowing it was actually a whorehouse. He was able to talk about the school he set up to help kids there get a high school education and related how they asked him why he was writing about the whorehouse.
“I didn’t know there was a back room there,” he quipped before continuing with the next verse.
He played a beautiful rendition of another older favourite, “Sad and Beautiful world.”
He introduced first new song of the night, his “sweet little space song,” “Samantha in the Sky With Diamonds,” by talking about becoming a pen pal with astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti while she was on the international space station and emailing her back and forth after giving a rough demo of the song to astronaut Chris Hadfield, who passed it on to her.
“So now I have a pen pal in space,” he laughed.
“Though most of her emails were ‘I’m busy.’”
His banter took a more serious tone as he talked about writing the new song “Paris, Las Vegas” during the shootings in Paris, France, which got him thinking about what the people in Paris, Las Vegas were doing at the moment.
Things got back to happy as he talked about the really old song “Whale of a Tale” and being inspired by the tall tales of a guy at the bar he was playing at in Welland, Ontario. He ended it with a few bars of “Joy to the World,” noting he was waiting for a tall tale to properly bookend the song, and found it when the guy said he played “Joy to The World” for the Pope.
Michel ended his first set with one of his best known songs “ Tennessee Tobacco,” and looped quick rhythms and played tasteful countrified solos over it, which each drew applause from the enraptured audience.
Mwansa Mwansa band play last show with Aaron Collier
One of my favourite local singers, Mwansa Mwansa, played a pretty much packed Owl Acoustic Lounge for the Lethbridge Jazz Festival, June 16.
It was a beautiful, but somewhat bittersweet show as it was the last one with keyboardist Aaron Collier who will be moving to Halifax later this summer.
As always the band, including guitarist James Oldenburg, bassist Paul Holden and drummer Brad Brouwer sounded fabulous, letting Mwansa Mwansa’s gorgeous voice shine.
They played some of their more jazzy material, of course, but they included some top pop hits like the Zutons/Amy Winehouse’s hit “Valerie.” She stood back and savoured several beautiful James Oldenburg guitar solos.
Collier got to shine with a pretty piano intro on “New York State of Mind.” They ended their first set with Alicia Keys’ “Why Don’t You Call Me,” and Mwansa Mwansa nailed the song’s spine-tingling vocal break, which exemplified why I love hearing her sing so much.
Blue Moon Marquee keep toes tapping with gypsy jazz
Monday shows can be a crapshoot, but Alberta born, Duncan, B.C.-based gypsy-jazz duo Blue Moon Marquee ended up having a decent crowd, June 13 at the Slice. They did a fantastic job on the East Stage of the South Country Fair last year, so I expected a lot more people. But the 30 some people who were there were extremely enthusiastic.
The duo, A.W. Cardinal playing guitar and singing and Jasmin Colette, grooving and dancing behind her upright bass and an assortment of drums placed at her feet, focused on music from their excellent new CD “Gypsy Blues.”
Cardinal played tasteful leads which drew enthusiastic applause from the audience to which he grinned and bowed his head.
Colette weaved and bobbed behind her bass, playing a snare drum with a brush attached to one foot and a bass drum and cymbal on the other.
They played songs from throughout their career as Blue Moon Marquee as well as under the A.W. Cardinal band.
They opened with a couple of highlights from their 2014 CD “Lonesome Ghosts” including “In the henhouse,” which set the mood for the night with a sweet guitar solo and toe-tapping groove which immediately drew in the “small but mighty crowd.”
“Sugar Dime” from that CD was another highlight early on in their first set.
After that the fouled on the new CD “Gypsy Blues,” with a couple of highlights including “Hoodoo Lady,” which Cardinal introduced in his deep, gravelly, Tom Waits style baritone as being about falling in love with a hoodoo lady aka Jasmin Colette.
“Runaway Lane” got a couple of couples swing dancing in front of the stage after which Cardinal thanked them for dancing.
They went all the way back to 2012 for an early ragtime style song called “Moon Gone Down.”
Cardinal introduced Colette who sang the sultry slower blues “Ain’t No Stranger” from the new CD and got some more applause for his guitar solo.
They wound down the first set by singing blues classic “Shine a Light on Me,” and went back for another earlier song called “December Rain.”
They both sang “Double Barrel Blues” from the new CD, played a Charlie Patton song and ended the first set with “Gypsy‘s Life from “Lonesome Ghosts.” Dave McCann and the Firehearts play for CKUA
Dave McCann and the Firehearts played for an enthusiastic crowd at the Geomatic Attic, Friday, June 10 as they helped CKUA wind up this season’s TransCanada Music West concert series season.
The band including lead guitarist Dave Bauer, drummer Tim Williams, bassist Tim Leacock and McCann on rhythm guitar and vocals, played a tight set for the live radio broadcast which focused on their new CD “Circle of Light.”
Host Grant Stovel encouraged the crowd to cheer as loud as they wanted to and asked McCann a couple questions to start off the show and midway through the set, but stood back and enjoyed the show.
They focused on the more up-tempo tracks from the new CD, beginning with “Wooden Wheel,” and “Beautiful Road,” then played one of my favourites “Fireheart” from their last CD “Dixiebluebird” which was also a crowd favourite.
They slowed things down little for “Lend Myself to Love.”
The ever laid-back McCann broke a string and seamlessly switched guitars while Bauer soloed, as the crowd cheered wildly, while John Wort Hannam surreptitiously dashed onto the stage to grab McCann’s guitar to change the string.
McCann told a story about Lance Loree’s 1972 Cadillac to introduce “Broken Bugs,” another crowd favourite from “Dixiebluebird.”
After a quick interview about growing up in Peterborough, McCann played “Unfamiliar Ground,”another older song and crowd favourite about touring out-of-the way places. It featured a beautifully tasteful Dave Bauer guitar solo which drew sustained applause from the audience.
McCann thanked local musician Leeroy Stagger for producing his new CD and thanked Hannam for changing his string before playing the new CD’s title track “Circle of Light.” He wound down his set with another older crowd pleaser “Road to Cain” and ended the radio show portion of the show right before 9 p.m. with “Headlights and Halos” from the new CD.
But he returned for one more encore for his fans as Stovel quipped.
“We’re off the air now, you guys can swear now if you want.”
Slice — Bend Sinister
Owl Acoustic Lounge—Paint and Sip
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Wise owls Pub Trivia with Lethbridge Public Library
Mckilllop Church — Jeffrey Streaker 6:30 p.m.
Pavan Park — St. Jean Baptiste Day with Le Fuzz
Honkers — Greg Gomola
Mocha Cabana — Dale Ketcheson
Studio 54 — Hollerado with Little Junior and the Utilities. 8 p.m. $25
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Rancho Deluxe
Casino Lethbridge — Comedy night
Henderson lake — Rotary Dragon Boats 5:00 PM – Dusty Dee Litchfield
6:00 PM – Festival Opening Ceremonies
6:30 PM – Paul Kype and Texas Flood
8:00 PM – Desert Wind Belly Dancers
8:30 PM – Fast Times Band
Club Didi— Drama Nutz: Farewell Show $10 7:30 p.m.
Galt Gardens — Pride in the Park
Inferno — Danger Thrill show
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Jay Aymar
Smokehouse — open jam with mark hall band
Coyote Joes — Un covered TCMM Memorial Fundraiser
Plum — Papa King Scott Mezei
Moose Hall — Motherfuckers, Good Enough and Guests $15 at door $12 advance
Slice — War Baby with Cope
Henderson lake — Rotary Dragon Boats 11:00 AM – Uncovered
12:00 PM – Rose Ceremony
12:30 PM – Alyssa McQuaid Band
1:30 PM – Hibikiya
2:00 PM – Nicole Donaghy-Hughes
2:30 PM – Kelliane
3:30 PM – Exisdance
4:00 PM – DNR
5:00 PM – Canadian Rocky Mountain Cloggers
5:30 PM – Diversified
6:30 PM – Karen Romanchuk
7:00 PM – Suite 33
Moose Hall — Old Derelicts, Obscene being, Newtron Bomb, Poison Corn, Gender Bender $12 advance $15 at door
Henderson Lake — Rotary Dragon Boats
11:00 AM – E-Free Band
12:00 PM – Shane Janzen
12:30 PM – Bridgette Yarwood
1:30 PM – Steve Keenan
2:30 PM – Urban Beat Dance Studio
3:00 PM – Mahoney
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Shotgun Jimmie with Open Channels
Onion — open mic
Slice — Hedks with Foam $5 8-10 p.m.
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Drink and Draw with Eric Dyck
Slice — open mic
Attainable Records — Fountain, Participation, Whoop-Szo, Bummer Club $10 8:30 p.m.
Plum — open piano 8-10 p.m.