The two main live music venues in Lethbridge close down for South Country Fair, so most of the music community will be in Fort Macleod, July 21-23.
People come to South Country Fair for a variety of reasons.
“(People come) For the music obviously but also I think a lot of it is for the community. You can definitely feel it when you walk around here — the amount of love and togetherness. Everyone works really hard to make sure that all the guests have a great time. A lot of unique friendships have been made here and it’s a really special place to return to, year after year,” summarized artistic director Jana MacKenzie.
Gillian Moranz grew up in a South Country Fair family as her parents, Maureen Chambers and Trent Moranz, helped found the festival over 30 years ago.
She has been responsible for booking the East Stage for the past several years. As she has been living in Vancouver for the past year, she is excited to introduce some of her favourite new musical discoveries to the fair.
“But we have a great lineup of performers from Calgary to Edmonton to Kamloops. And we have some newcomers, which I’m very excited about,” she said, taking a break from working as a producer with the Vancouver Folk Festival.
Some familiar faces include Mariel Buckley, who has played the Windy City Opry and who will be returning to Lethbridge the following week for the Wide Skies Music Festival, plus Joe Nolan and the Dogs, roots-bluegrass duo Chicken-Like Birds, who have played Lethbridge a couple of times, local favourites Junkman’s Quire, who have just released their new CD, and Eliza Marie Doyle, who used to play with the Cracker Cats and who was most recently in Lethbridge, both as a solo performer and as a member of the Dead South.
“We also have Kitty and the Rooster who includes Noah Walker who is a great guitar player who has played with CR Avery and Jodie Ponto who is a great photographer,” she said.
“I’m excited about Sam Tudor. He’s a really young songwriter from Vancouver who doesn’t tour often,” she enthused, adding she is also excited to present Vancouver bluegrass band Viper Central.
She always enjoys South Country Fair.
“I have to give credit to all of the volunteers. It is pretty exciting. They have such spontaneous energy and creativity,” she enthused.
McKenzie is excited about many things about this year’s South Country Fair.
“Well, this is the second year of kids’ rock camp; they’ll once again be starting off the stage on Friday and last year being its first year, we’ve never had more people at the main stage that time of day — so we’re really looking forward to that again, should be an exciting start for the kids.
“Another thing I’m excited about is that we’ve got William Price coming to the fair who has recently won a Juno so that should be a good show,” she wrote from the Ness Creek Music Festival. She noted one of the changes this year is moving the fair’s outreach program to the gazebo by the swimming pool.
“So we’re hoping some of the people in town will be able to get a taste of the fair,” she wrote.
She noted some of Friday night’s highlights are Winnipeg-based First Nations singer-songwriter William Prince, up-and-coming Toronto-based bluegrass band Slocan Ramblers and Argentina-born, Victoria-based world music band Entangados. On Saturday some of the evening performers include Regina-based celtic/pop/alternative rock band The Johnny McQuaig Band and Vancouver indie rock band Bad Pop.
In addition to new faces, there are also some familiar faces including mayor Washboard Hank.
“Our mayor Washboard Hank, who’s bringing along his sweet lady Mountain Muriel. Eliza Mary Doyle is returning but this time as a solo act. She once played the festival with the band Cracker Cats. And we’ve also got The Johnny McQuaig Band returning which a lot of our faithful fairgoers are really excited about,” MacKenzie wrote, adding she is excited about some of the new faces performing this year.
“Entangados are coming this year all the way from Argentina. We also have Coig — a Celtic group from Cape Breton which should be a good show. And Sam Tudor who’s a great singer/songwriter — we first saw him at Break Out West and we’re really thrilled he’s playing this year,” she continued.
Mackenzie has been involved with the South Country Fair since she was a teenager and booking the south stage for the past six years. She noted the overall essence of the fair has remained pretty much the same.
“I’m not sure how much it’s actually changed — as it’s maintained that sort of old-world folk festival with that same level of hospitality. We’ve grown in size for sure, but we always ensure that the core heart of it remains the same, in providing a safe, inclusive environment for people to experience unique local and regional talent,” she noted, adding there have been many unique experiences.
“We’ve definitely had a lot of unique experiences but more recently last year we had a surprise act for our 30th anniversary — The Imprints — from Australia. It was really nice to be able to give that extra show to the audience.”
All of the performers can be found at http://southcountryfair.com.
If you aren’t going to South Country Fair this week, there are a few options.
Unfortunately Streetheart’s scheduled show at Average Joe’s on July 22 has been cancelled due to the illness of frontman Kenny Shields.
Local classic rock/pop band Fast Times return to Casino Lethbridge, July 21 and 22. They begin at 8 p.m. each night.
Things get funky at the Slice after South Country Fair on Tuesday, July 25 as Niagara funk collective My Son the Hurricane get things hot and sweaty on a Tuesday night. The 14-piece behemoth have a full horn section, an emcee and mix New Orleans jazz with funk, jazz and a little hip hop. Admission is $5.
24th Street Wailers
Austin/Toronto-based blues band Lindsay Beaver and the 24th Street Wailers have never experienced South Country Fair before. “We’ve never played the South Country Fair before, but we’ve played the North Country Fair and if it’s anything like that it will be fun,” said drummer/lead singer Lindsay Beaver, from a tour stop in Sioux City, Iowa.
“It’s a really relaxed atmosphere and we got to meet some really great people like Wendell Ferguson, whose show is part music and part comedy. He’s a great musician,” she said, noting the Halifax/Toronto-born band plans to play a lot of new music during their two southern Alberta shows in two weeks including the South Country Fair and the Wide Skies Music Festival in Lethbridge the following week.
The band has undergone a few changes. They had to say good bye to a couple of longtime members including saxophonist Jonny Wong and keyboardist Jesse Whiteley.
“They just didn’t want to tour anymore. They were getting burned out. It was hard for them. We’re in Austin (Beaver and husband/bassist Mike Archer) and they have to fly down here. But we‘re still friends. I treated them as band members, not just sidemen,” she said.
Guitarists Marc Doucet and Josh Fuller complete the band’s lineup. She was worried about continuing without a saxophone player. “So far, so good. So far there haven’t been any complaints and we were worried about that. But we’re more of a grownup band now. The show is more about the songs and the performance and less about the schtick,” she said, adding they could have hired another saxophone player, but didn’t want to.
“There are plenty of guys in Austin we could have hired to play saxophone, but we didn’t want to. It’s still us. We still play swing and blues. I still write the tunes and book the shows,” she said.
She also changed the name of the band to Lindsay Beaver and the 24th Street Wailers.
“It’s easier to apply for the big, five-year visa under my own name instead of having to pay for a visa every year,” she said.
She has been working on new music and plans to enter the studio on on Aug. 16 to record with a variety of Austin luminaries like Jimmy Vaughan and are setting up a crowdfunding page for the project.
“We’re going to do it anyway. Before, the band would split the cost of recording four ways, now it’s me, so this will cover some of the costs,” she said, adding she already has 10 to12 songs ready to record.
She is excited to work with Jimmy Vaughan.
“We’re really a blues band and I’ve been a fan of his since the Fabulous Thunderbirds, so that’s going to be a really great experience,” she said.
“I asked him if he would record and he said yes. I don’t know what it will be like to be in the same room as him,” she said.
“It’s been about three years since I released an album so it’s about time,” she said.
Tropic Thunder at the Owl
Terrific Kids Collective put on a couple shows this week. While I missed their show at Stella’s Diner with A Trozzo and the Electric Few and indie rock band Blessed on Wednesday, I caught their Thursday show, July 13 at the Owl Acoustic lounge.
Edmonton-based Tropic Harbour played pleasant, ambient indie rock at the owl Acoustic lounge as a weird film from the ’80s flashed across the backdrop of the darkened room.
There were plenty of pleasant melodies and delay laded ambient guitar with the off mellow keyboard added for extra layers of sound. They had a sound similar to Jesse and the Dandelions as well as plenty of Vancouver indie rock bands like Said the Whale.
I missed an opening set from local band Doug.
Stephanie Nilles at the Slice
I was one of a handful of people on hand at the Slice, Monday, July 10, to see New Orleans-based, Chicago-born pianist/vocalist Stephanie Nilles.
Apparently she played South Country Fair a couple years ago, much to the delight of a table full of fans, trying to peg where they had seen her before.
Nilles was in a mellow mood, playing plenty of mellow jazz and blues, but let loose her fleet-fingered piano chops on a couple of songs, especially on a frenetic number combining catchy barrelhouse piano with a touch of rap. But usually she sang in her appealing hippyish, jazzy, voice which combined elements of classic blues like Etta James with more ’90s influences like Tori Amos and Fiona Apple with just a touch of Janis Joplin.
It was a good weekend for Youth One with two fundraising concerts taking place to raise funds for them.
Local rockabilly trio Bent 8 returned to the stage for an afternoon concert, Sunday, July 9, behind the Union Barbershop and the Owl Acoustic Lounge, which provided a nice soundtrack to the Street Machine Weekend show and shone in Galt Gardens.
Frontman/guitarist Dino Caravaggio, bassist Steve Martin and drummer Terry played a set of Rockabilly music including classic from early Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and classic rockabilly cuts.
The show featured a dunk tank, artisans and performances from Gabriel Thaine, Jon Vornbrock, Makiisma and Zoodaiaque
Ryedell at the Slice
Calgary-based singer songwriter Tanner Riddle a.k.a. Ryedell played an intimate show at the Slice, Saturday, July 8. He played an intimate set of mournful acoustic folk. He played a solid set of mostly original, laidback, sad, minor key sounding songs, plus a couple of covers including a laidback version of Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On,” and David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust,” which helped wind down his first set. He ended with a lower original balled called “Glimmer.”
Concert For A Cause
Street Machine Weekend was a blast, with beautiful weather, beautiful cars and beautiful music from The Cody Hall band and Alyssa McQuaid and Coyote Junction playing a special concert/beer garden fundraiser for Youth One, Friday, July 7.
I’m glad the organizers added a beer garden, sponsored by local internet radio station jessfm.ca, and live music to accompany the watching of cool cars.
I caught most of the Concert For A Cause which included my first opportunity to see local country band the Cody Hall band.
The band took the opportunity to play for a good-sized crowd to play a whole bunch of upbeat country originals. They also added a few covers including a capable cover of Tom Petty’s “Freefalling.”
They ended their set by turning Wheatus’s quirky ’90s one-hit wonder “Teenage Dirtbag” into a pretty cool country song.
Alyssa McQuaid and Coyote Junction also concentrated on original music, showcasing the individual songwriters in the band. They also added a couple of key covers including a haunting version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” and some pure fun with covers of “500 Miles” and Cadillac Ranch” as well as an excellent version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop.”
A revamped Calgary-based rock and roll band Peter and the Wolves showed a new side to their sound at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Friday, July 7, not to mention a new lineup.
Frontman Peter Cormier stretched his fingers of some finger-bleeding piano instead of his usual Gretsch. They also had a new drummer as well as special guest in Mercury Audio’s Dylan Sadlier-Brown on upright bass.
Instead of their usual upbeat rockabilly sound, this show showed more of the piano-powered rock and roll of the ’50s and ’60s.
Cormier proved to be equally adept on keyboard as he is on guitar as the trio played plenty of Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles and even Hank Williams’ “You Win Again” on piano. They got an enthusiastic crowd’s toes tapping. They even had a pair of swing dancers working up a sweat in front of the stage, who were just as entertaining as the jaw dropping piano based rock and roll of the band.
Cormier switched back to guitar in the middle of a song for the last few songs of the set and put on a show there as well. He added a few originals, and ended with “Jailbird Johnny” and a hot cover of the Stray Cats’ “Rock This Town,” followed it up with blues classic “St. James Infirmary,” and ending with Buddy Holly’s “All my Love, All My Kissin’ (Oh Boy)” punctuating the hyperactive set by leaping high in the air off Sadlier-Brown’s bass.
Slice — open mic
Smokehouse — Open mic with Daylan Delaney
Honker’s Pub — open mic
Slice — closed for South Country Fair
Owl Acoustic Lounge — closed for South Country Fair
Casino Lethbridge — Fast Times
Fort Macleod Fish and Game Park — South Country Fair: 5 p.m. opening set
5:15: Kidz Rock Camp
6 workshop Animal Party! (Workshop): Kitty & the Rooster, Viper Central, Chicken-like- Birds (hosted by Ted Gallon) 7:15: poet
8:45: William Prince
10 p.m Songwriter: George Fowler
10:15: Slocan Ramblers
12:45: Munyas Matause
Average Joe’s — Streetheart Farewell Tour 8 p.m. $35 in advance $40 at door cancelled
Honker’s Pub — afternoon
open mic 3-7 p.m,
Coyote Joe’s — open mic
Casino Lethbridge — Fast Times
Owl Acoustic Lounge — closed for South Country Fair
Slice — closed for South Country Fair
Fort Macleod Fish and Game Park South Country Fair South stage
noon: Dance workshop
1:30 Gordie Tentrees and Jaxon Haldane 2:45: poet TBA
3 p.m. Justin Lacroix
4:14 p.m. Volunteer Photo
4:45 p.m. Isle of the Strong Workshop with Door (Workshop): McQuaig (host), Spencer Murray, Junkmans Quire
6:15 p.m. Dana Sipos
7:30 p.m. Patience of a working man Willie P Bennett Tribute with Washboard Hank, Gordie Tentrees, Jaxon Haldane, Scott Nolan 9 p.m.: songwriter:Carter Felker
9:15 p.m. SpencerMurray and Pipeslinger 10:30 p.m. Lindsay Beaver and the 24th Street Wailers
11:45 p.m. McQuaig
1 a.m. Bad Pop East stage
noon-1 p.m. Sirens of Song Mariel Buckley, Eliza Doyle, Dana Sipos 1:15 Junkman’s Quire
2:20-3:10 Viper Central
3:25 p.m.: Sam Tudor
4:30 Kitty and the Rooster
5:35 p.m. Joe Nolan and the Dogs
Fort Macleod Fish and Game Park — South country Fair: 11 a.m. Blackfoot Medicine speaks
12:30 p.m. Words on Words Workshop with Ben Rogers & the Bloodred Yonder (host), Scott Nolan, Sam Tudor 1:30 p.m. Eliza Mary Doyle
2:50 poet TBA
3:15: Scott Nolan
4:20 Dance til You Drop workshop with 24TH St. Wailers (host), Joe Nolan, Copperhead East Stage
noon: Lil Jill’s Big GrAss Jam
1 p.m.: Chicken Like Birds
2:05: let’s Duet workshop with Mayor Washboard Hank, Mountain Muriel, Maureen Chambers (host), Mark Sadlier Brown, Bev Bruce
3:20 p.m. Mariel Buckley July 24
Onion — open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge — open mic
Slice — My Son the Hurricane $5
Slice — Rare Drugs
Southminster United Church — Wide Skies Music and Arts Festival with Deep Dark Woods Alex Cuba, Ryland Moranz, Shaela Miller, Mariel Buckley
Owl Acoustic lounge — Standup Comedy open mic