Canada turns 150 years old this year so Lethbridge is going all out to celebrate with live music July 1. Vancouver-based funk orchestra Five Alarm Funk are part of a busy Canada Day line up at Henderson lake which begins at 11 a.m. with the Lethbridge Community Band. They will be followed at noon by the Dramatic Measures Choir, the Hibikaya drummers at 12:10, New West Theatre at 12:30 p.m., the Lethbridge Thai Dancers at 1:10, Munya Maturuse at 1:30 p.m., the Troyanda Ukrainian Dancers at 2:20 p.m., local funk/R and B/disco collective Hippodrome at 2:50 and the opening ceremonies at 4 p.m..
After that, Lethbridge Native Dance performs at 4:30 p.m. local classic rock band Fast Times Follow at 4:50. Urban Beat dancers will perform at 5:40 p.m..
Saskatchewan country singer Blake Berglund performs at 6 p.m. followed by MexicanSin Fronteras.
Local rock band Biloxi Parish are on at 7:10 p.m. followed by Gymfinity Aerial Circus at 8 p.m.
Five Alarm Funk play at 8:30, and as things wind down, the Lethbridge Fire Spinners will be performing at 9:30 p.m. Saint Albert-based Alberta up-and-coming country musician Dan Davidson, who charted with his number 1 selling hit “Found” in 2016, winds things down at 10 p.m. and leads the crowd to the fireworks at 11 p.m.
There is Canada Day music at Galt Gardens as well with a variety of DJs including DJ Streeter beginning at noon, DJ Fuze at 1 p.m., Universal Fallout at 2 p.m., DJ Digiboo at 3 p.m, Freddy J at 4 p.m., Beach Season at 5 p.m. DeFunk at 6 p.m. and Slynk winding things up at 7 p.m.
Canada, like pretty much all countries, has its darker moments of history, so Lethbridge-born, Halifax-based artist Arianna Richardson hopes to spark a discussion about it with her new exhibit “Decolonization Station” outside the SAAG on July 1.
“Canada has a history that is often actively ignored. So I want to start a discussion about it,” said Richardson, back home in Lethbridge for a month from Halifax, where she is studying for her MFA.
“I’ll be destroying objects and souvenirs I’ve collected over the past three years from my travels across Canada as my alter ego the Hobbyist,” she continued, adding she invites the public to bring their own tchotchkes and souvenirs to talk about and then destroy.
“I want it to inspire a public discussion about colonization and decolonization,” she said.
“But I’m setting it up as a carnival game and dressing up in costume as I use a trash can to burn them. So it is a performance piece. I’ll have people filming the event, she said, emphasizing her exhibition isn’t a SAAG event, as it is just allowing her to perform outside the building.
“I’m hoping it will help people question the Canadian stereotype of the RCMP and beer drinking outdoorsman,” she added.
“I come from a white settler background, so I don‘t want to appropriate. I’m not speaking for First Nations people, I just want to start a dialogue,” she said, adding Canada 150 celebrations provided an excellent opportunity for a project like this one.
“It seems all the more relevant today. It’s an important discussion to have, even for myself.”
The exhibit runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
There is a lot of fun throughout the week beginning on Wednesday with a couple of excellent shows.
Chicago roots/American/bluegrass band the Way Down Wanderers visit the Slice, June 28, in the middle of their first visit to Canada.
They blend elements of folk, rock, traditional music, bluegrass and much more into their unique sound from their 2016 self titled debut CD as well as their brand new live CD.
For the complete opposite to that, London, Ontario-based psychobilly/ rockabilly band the Matadors return to Lethbridge, June 28 as well when they return to the Moose Hall with local punk bands the Scallywags and Gender Bender. The show begins at 9 p.m.
For something different again, the Owl Acoustic Lounge hosts its month-end stand-up comedy open mic on June 28.
While Canada Day activities dominate the weekend, there are a couple cool shows happening.
Taylor Ackerman, who used to play with Treeline and Toques and Beards, is taking advantage of a month back home in Lethbridge after spending the past 10 months in Halifax to play a pair of local gigs.
He brings his new blues rock project Global Acid Reset (which also features drummer Matthew Rederburg and Cory Fischer ) to the Owl Acoustic Lounge June 30 with Don Cassells’ new project In Cahoots. Global Acid Reset plays the Slice on Canada Day with local roots rock collective Unbroken Circle. There is a $10 cover for that show.
Shaela Miller returns to the Slice on June 30 with local roots group Rancho Deluxe and Megan Rourke. Admission is $10.
If you’re feeling blue, Paul Kype and Texas Flood return to Casino Lethbridge for the weekend as well to blow those blues away with plenty of blues, rock and country. They begin at 8 p.m. each night.
Smokehouse features a big hip hop show on Canada Day with the Doom Squad, Sr8 Gutta, BGK and Fortunato and plenty of local openers. Doors open at 8 p.m. There is a $10 cover for the show.
Peoria, Illinois roots/bluegrass band the Way Down Wanderers are wandering up to Canada for the first time next week for a quick tour including a stop at the Slice on Wednesday, June 28.
The Americana/roots quintet’s self-titled debut CD has won them several awards after being released in February 2016. The Way Down Wanderers are vocalist/guitarist Austin Thompson; Collin Krause – vocals, mandolin, violin, electric guitar; John Williams – vocals, upright bass; John Merikoski – drums, percussion and banjo/fiddle player Travis Kowalsky.
They are excited about the Canadian tour.
“This will be the first time we’ve ever played outside of the United States so we’re just excited to see the land,” said vocalist/guitarist Austin Thompson.
The roots of the band began in Peoria where Austin Thompson and Collin Krause were part of a band for different singer.
“When that fell apart, Collin and I decided to form a band where we had a little bit more control over what we were doing. And when that fell apart, I decided to try writing songs myself. John Williams was studying jazz and he joined us,” said Thompson travelling from Peoria to Chicago from Peoria where most of the band are based. Most of them live in Chicago except for the newest member, banjo player Travis Kowalsky, who lives in the northern Michigan city of Alpena.
“He’s a great fiddle player so we asked him to play with us,” he said.
The 2016 self-titled CD won several Chicago area industry and radio station awards.
“We recorded the CD in El Paso Texas. it is a collection of everything we have done so far. There’s a lot of bluegrass music and a lot of fiddle playing, there’s some folk and some rock songs and there’s a couple of ballads,” Thompson said.
They have since released a live album.
“We recorded it in St. Louis, Missouri. It has some of the songs from the CD, but they are a lot different when we play them live. We wanted a snapshot of where we are in our careers,” Thompson said.
“There will be lots of harmonies and lots of instrument switching. And our drummer is a fine spoons player, too. In the United States, we usually get off the stage and stand in the middle of the audience to lead everybody in a sing-along,” Thomson said.
“We’re excited to spread our music across the border,” he said.
Tickets for the show are $10 in advance from Blueprint. The show is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
They all come back eventually. Taylor Ackerman, who was a member of several popular local bands including Treeline and Toques and Beards, returns home from Halifax for a month to introduce his new musical project Global Acid Reset with a pair of local shows, June 30 at the Owl Acoustic Lounge and July 1 at the Slice.
He noted he has spent the past 10 months living in Halifax rediscovering his blues/rock roots, while looking after his two year old while wife Arianna Richardson earns her MFA. He has also been dipping his toes into the thriving east coast scene. He has been recording new music while in Halifax with drummer Geoff Arsenault including the new single “Bangladeshi T-Shirt” which is officially released on June 30.
“He’s a great drummer. He has played with Ray Bonneville and just finished a tour with Matt Anderson,” Ackerman said, adding he planned the trip home with a handful of shows including the two Lethbridge shows plus a show at Verns in Calgary on June 29 and a show at Soulfest in Twin Butte on July 7.
“I’ll be playing with Cory Fischer and Matt Rederburg here. This is a whole new project with brand new songs and I wanted to reflect that,” he said, adding he didn’t just want to reunite the Toques and Beards or Treeline.
He noted he isn’t used to playing a solo project, but wanted to try it on for size.
“I’m more used to playing with a band, so I had to relearn how to play solo,” he said, adding he has been playing a few shows in Halifax, where he met Arsenault and some of the other talented people.
“I recorded three songs with Geoff and while I’m here, I’m going to record three more songs with Jon Martin in Green Room studios and I’ll release them all together as an EP, he said, adding embarking on Global Acid Reset has meant learning how to do everything himself including building a press kit and handling media in addition to creating the music himself.
“It really is going back to my roots of blues-based rock and roll,” Ackerman said.
The June 30 show at the Owl Acoustic Lounge is by donation. Don Cassel’s new project In Cahoots will be opening that show as well. There is a $10 cover for the July 1 show at the Slice. Unbroken Circle are also on the bill.
Vancouver based funk band Five Alarm Funk plan to “Sweat” in support of their new album, when they drop the funk on Henderson Lake Park to celebrate Canada 150 festivities.
“It’s been 14 years and six albums. And this album is our most mature album yet. It’s opened a lot of doors for us,” said Tayo Branston, one of the two drummers in the funk fuelled behemoth which includes Gabe Boothroyd – guitar; Oliver Gibson – guitar; Jay Smith – bass; Tom Towers – congas; Ricki Valentine – timbales; Eli Bennett – sax and trumpet player Kent Wallace.
“We wanted to capture what it feels like to be at a concert. The last album “Abandon Earth” was a concept album. It was almost a heavy metal album. On this album we went back to our roots of heavy funk, afrobeat and reggae,” Branston said, adding they are excited to play Canada Day in Lethbridge.
“Our live show is the best it’s ever been. We have new costumes and new props we’re breaking out. I don’t want to spoil things, but the gorilla and the sharks are our in full force. They’ve become a symbol for Five Alarm Funk. They’re big, powerful animals,” he said.
“We’re excited to play Canada Day in Lethbridge. Lethbridge has always been good to us,” he said adding they usually play a Canada Day show somewhere, but missed it last year.
“We actually played an Ottawa show the day after Canada Day last year,” he said.
Lethbridge Celebrates Canada 150 and the Lethbridge Exhibition Park’s 120’s anniversary with a wicked Whoop Up Days line-up, Aug 22-26.
“We’ve put a lot more money into music this year,” said organizer Jackie French, noting bigger concerts will be at the grandstand beginning, Tuesday, Aug. 22 with the Trews opening the night at 7 p.m. and grunge rockers Theory of a Deadman at 9 p.m. The special shows will have a bigger ticket price of $59.
“We’re moving a stage into the grandstand. It’s still a good deal because it‘s great music and includes admission to the Whoop-Up Days,” she said.
The fun continues on Wednesday with another show in the grandstand on Wednesday, Aug. 23.
Southern rockers .38 Special, who had a number of hits in the ’70s and ’80s including “Back Where you belong,” “Caught Up in You” “Teacher, Teacher” and “Hold On Loosely,” to name a few, headline at 9 p.m.
April Wine will open a great night at 7 p.m.
Music is on the Whoop-Up Days grounds for the rest of Whoop-Up Days beginning Thursday, Aug. 24 with alternative rockers Finger 11 on the Gas King Stage at 9 p.m. and local alternative rock band Uncovered playing at 7 p.m. The next day, modern rock band the Glorious Sons play the Gas King Stage, aug. 25 at 9 p.m. Local blues band the Steve Keenan Band open at 7 p.m..
Saturday night is country night, Aug.26.
Former Calgary Flame Theo Fleury shows his country music chops with his band Theo Fleoury and the Death Valley Rebels playing at 7 p.m. They will be opening for up and coming, Juno nominated country singer Jess Moskluke who has charted a couple of hits including “Cheap Wine and Cigarettes,” “Kiss Me Quiet,” and “Take Me Home.”
Dory and the Weathermen play the Gas King Stage, at 5 p.m. Tickets to those shows are included with Whoop up Days admission
In addition to live music, The Heritage Pavilion will be turned into a saloon for Whoop Up Days with a variety of activities happening.
Jock Tears and Supermoon at the Owl
The Owl Acoustic Lounge celebrated Pride week with several Pride-themed shows.
A highlight was Wednesday night, June 21 when they hosted Vancouver female fuelled pop punk band Jock Tears.
They played a short, sweet immediately appealing set of catchy, sassy, supremely upbeat, feminist themed pop punk music , singing about don’t call me darling, bad boys and Kitts Beach which reminded me of a more punk rock Bangles and especially ’90s Vancouver pop punk darlings cub.
One enthusiastic fan even tried crowd surfing on top of a half dozen dancing fans. Brunette lead singer, Lauren Ray, sporting glowing shoes, with lights flashing, jumped into the middle of the enthusiastic audience and sang beautifully.
Fellow Vancouverites Supermoon barely looked old enough to be in a bar. They played more ambient, introspective indie rock featuring chiming guitars, gorgeous vocal harmonies, three different lead vocalists and plenty of instrument switching.
I missed an opening set from local synth pop band Open Channels.
Rooster Davis Group at the Owl
I didn’t get to many Lethbridge jazz Festival shows last week. But one I did not want to miss was the return of Edmonton based, piano driven New Orleans style jazz musician Rooster Davis. They played a wild set of New Orleans jazz at the owl Acoustic Lounge, June 17.
Rooster Davis is a wild piano player and showed substantial chops. His voice was alternately jazzy, bluesy with just a touch of adult contemporary pop similar to Ben Folds.
Keyboardist/percussionist Ann Vriend sang angelically while adding some piano and percussion she added a more straight ahead pop and R and B sensibility with a few songs from her new EP, but still held spine tingling, loud, long, high notes.
They had a new trombonist in Audrey Ochoa who blew beautiful, jaw-dropping experimental lines as drummer Peter Hendrickson held down a rock solid backbeat.
In addition to Rooster Davis’s more contemporary New Orleans Jazz and originals and Ann Vriend’s more pop and R and B, they also delved deep into their blues roots with great versions of classics like “St. James Infirmary.”
Colin James and his band stopped by for a beer after their show at the Enmax Centre. A lot of us were hoping they’d get up and play, but it was not meant to be. Rooster Davis and his band would have been a tough act to follow. Even for Colin James.
Hollerado at the Slice
Ottawa indie rock, pop band Hollerado really need to be seen in a small venue to be fully appreciated.
They returned to play a hot, sweaty hit-heavy set at the Slice, Friday June 16.
As expected, considering they get played a lot on local radio stations, the show was sold out. And, also as expected, the audience was really in for a treat. There was plenty of leaping around, catchy ear-worm guitar hooks as well as massive groove and lots of good humour.
They opened with “Grief Money,” from their new CD and crashed into older hits like “Americanarama” and hit their stride with “Eloise,” one of my favourites from their new CD “Born Yesterday.” The single and title track was another highlight midway through in the set. Just because they could, they made space on their setlist to take a request from the crowd, which they played before winding things up before midnight with “Juliette” and “So it Goes,” which had most of the room singing along.
Kimberley MacGregor, John Guliak, Levi at the Owl
The Owl Acoustic Lounge was doing double duty June 16. They had an excellent singer-songwriter showcase at 7 p.m. featuring four excellent Alberta talents including Edmonton’s Kimberley MacGregor, Red Deer-based hirsute country/folk singer Levi Cuss and clean-shaven Curtis Phagoo, and Edmonton folk/country songwriter John Guliak.
They all had their own unique styles as they each took turns singing one of their songs. One of my favourites, Kimberley MacGregor, belted out big, bluesy vocals, introducing several new songs and ending with my favourite, “Trouble,” from her most recent CD.
I was glad to hear John Guliak again, as he played Shaela Miller’s Windy City Opry at the Slice last month, but I only caught a few of his songs. He brought to mind Bob Snider and Gordon Lightfoot as he wove compelling musical tales. He played several songs from his latest CD “Fluke or Flounder,” including the highlight “Triptych.”
Curtis Phagoo had more of a folk pop sound similar to Paul Simon and Danny Michel. He was a pleasant surprise as he also sang some compelling original music.
Levi Cuss was a hoot, bringing a more outlaw country sound with a lot of humour as he played stripped-down versions of songs from his EP “Just Below Country” which he recorded with Steve Dawson in Nashville. His highlights were “White lies“ and “One Night Stand.”
Local jazz quartet Sandwich played one of several Lethbridge Jazz Festival shows at the Owl Acoustic lounge, June 16.
They don’t play often, so it is always great to see bassist Paul Holden, drummer Kyle Harmon, saxophonist Ryan Heseltine and guitarist/vocalist Arlen Wutch. They played a trippy set of experimental jazz music featuring a big bottom end, some superb saxophone solos and haunting guitar and vocals from Wutch.
Moose Hall — the Matadors
Slice — the Way Down Wanderers
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Stand up Comedy Open mic
Mocha Cabana — Dale Ketcheson
Slice — Rancho Deluxe with Shaela Miller and Megan Rourke
Coulee Brew — Paper Hayes
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Global Acid Reset (Taylor Ackerman) with in Cahoots
Casino Lethbridge — Texas Flood
Honker’s Pub — open mic
Slice — Taylor Ackerman Global Acid Reset with Unbroken Circle
Henderson Lake — Five Alarm Funk, Dan Davidson, Blake Berglund, Biloxi Parish, Fast Times, Hippodrome, Munya Mataruse, New West Theatre, Dance Troupes Choirs
Galt Gardens — deFunk, Slynk, Monster Truck, DJ Fuze, Streeter, Freddy J, DJ Digaboo, Universal Fallout,Kidzone, food trucks
Casino Lethbridge — Texas Flood
Smokehouse — Doom Squad, St8 Gutta, BGK, Fortunato
Honker’s Pub — afternoon open mic
Coyote Joe’s — open mic
1010 Pub — Dope Vibe moon, no cover, 8 p.m.
Slice — bridal party
The Slice — Morewine, Ghost Women, Robben Lent. $7 9 p.m.
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Eileen and the In betweens
Casa — Centric Music Festival Gala Concert 1 – 6:30 Ode to Chopin with pianist Krysztof Jablonski
Casa — 7:30 p.m. Centric Festival Gala Concert 2 Back to bach with Tyler Stewart, Lisa Mulgrew and Jesse Plessis
Slice — Tallest to Shortest with Pine Barrens
Casa — Centric Festival Concert 3 Beethoven and the Distant Beloved with Leslie Ting, Ryan Kolodziej, Ian Fundytus, Jesse Plessis