August begins with a whole lot of rock and roll.
Edmonton psychedelic rock band the Archaics play the Slice, Wednesday Aug. 2.
There are laughs aplenty on thew weekend as Yuk Yuks comedy returns to Average Joe’s, Aug. 4, featuring Newfoundland comedian Lisa Baker plus Edmonton’s Nick McQuick and host Randy Webb. The laughs begin at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $15 in advance, $20 on the day of the show.
Down the street, expect salty language and a lot of good times as Calgary/Okotoks punk/country band Puttin on the Foil play the Slice with the 425s. There is a $10 cover for the show.
For something a little more low-key, Edmonton First Nations, folk/blues/R and B musician Celeigh Cardinal returns to Lethbridge, Aug. 4, to play the Owl Acoustic Lounge with her trio. She is in Twin Butte the next day.
The Slice has a big show on Aug. 5 as J Blissette kick off their tour. Edmonton musician Marlaena Moore is also on the bill with Lethbridge experimental indie rock duo Birch Barks.
There are also some shows early in the week. Local traditional country musician Floyd Sillito is at Exhibition Park on Monday morning at 11 a.m. And if you enjoyed Eli and the Straw Man’s show at the Slice in April, their friends Midnight Vesta make their Lethbridge debut at the Slice on Aug. 8, bringing plenty of roots, country and vocal harmonies.
Calgary-based country/punk band Puttin’ On the Foil may come across as loud, drunk, stupid rednecks if you look at their website. And to an extent they are as drink, drugs and rock and roll dominate their songs, but there is more to them than that.
“We’re a working band,” said bassist/vocalist Kevin Rowland aka Train Rekk, who bring the hard-rocking, fun-loving trio to the Slice, Aug. 4 with the 425s.
“But we know how to play tons of covers. We can play over 100 some songs, so we can play anything, as long as people want us to play,” said Rowland. The band has released two CDs of original material, “Sing-Along Drinking Songs” and “Fired Up, Ready to Roll.”
“We’re all about having a good time,” Rowland continued.
“We’ve been playing a lot,” he said. They play around Calgary and recently went out to B.C. and played Vancouver Island.
“It was a great show and we had time to fish,” he said.
“We also played Elkford. A lot of guys work in the mines and they wake up in the morning and put us on to pump themselves again and after their shift because they want to party. So they came to the show and knew all the words.”
“We’d like to be able to play a lot more original shows. Though we will throw them into a set if we‘re playing covers,” he continued, adding they are working on their third CD, which they hope to release in September.
“We have about 17 songs now. We want to have enough songs so there isn’t as long of a wait time between them,” he said.
They were last in Lethbridge two years ago in 2015 around the time they released their latest album, playing with a variety of local punk bands.
“We played a biker rally in Invermere this summer and we played for two and a half hours. We’d like to play more of those because they’re just out to have a good time, too,” he continued.
“A lot of horrible things come out of my mouth. There’s too much political correctness these days. My wife won’t even come to our shows, because she knows the things that come out of my mouth, but she came to a show and told me, ‘I didn’t realize how good you guys are,’” he reminisced.
“It’s high energy from the get-go. If you come with a sense of humour and an open mind, you will have a good time. If you don’t, you won’t,” he warned.
The show begins at 9 p.m. There is a $10 cover.
Edmonton-based songwriter Celeigh Cardinal makes a long-awaited return to Lethbridge to play the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Aug. 4.
A lot has happened for the Indigenous artist since she decided to focus on music full time. She has toured a lot, won several awards including a “REVEAL Indigenous Arts Award, an ATB Listens award and has participated in the (re)Claim Program at the Banff Centre.
She will be joined by her trio, guitarist Ben Tassell and violinist/percussionist/cajon player Matt Harrison.
“I’ve been touring a lot with the trio,” she said from a hotel room in Prince George.
“I’ve been playing with Ben for three and a half years. He’s in my band and Matt joined three or four months ago, so he’s the newbie,” she chuckled, noting she met them through the weekly open stages she hosts in Edmonton.
“Matt is really super adaptable and he has a really great ear for harmonies,” Cardinal said, noting that is a great asset as her music incorporates an array of influences including folk, blues, reggae and anything else she thinks will work.
All of these influences are present on her first full length album “Everything and Nothing At All.”
“It is a pretty different collection of styles,” she said.
“There’s nine songs on the album. There’s a lot of different styles. It’s my first full band album. So there’s keyboards and organ on it,” she said.
“A lot of them are love songs, because I started writing the songs at the beginning of a relationship.”
She is taking her trio to Sweden in August.
“We’re playing a showcase there. There will be 800 people and 200 of them are musicians and the rest are industry people. I also booked some shows in Copenhagen and Denmark. It will be my first time there. The furthest I’ve been overseas is Scotland,” she said. First she has a quick southern Alberta Tour including stops in Twin Butte and Black Diamond as well as Lethbridge.
The show begins at 9 p.m. Admission is by donation.
Edmonton-based experimental pop musician Marlaena Moore is enjoying touring Ontario with her bandmates drummer Andy Mulcair and bassist Matt McNichol.
She stops by the Slice with J Blissette and Birch Barks, Aug. 5.
“It’s going well. We’re really well-rehearsed now,” Moore said of her tour from Ottawa.
“Though it‘s hard to get people out when there’s so many festivals happening now,” she said.
“But it’s really exciting just to play music every night and meet so many awesome people.”
She always enjoys playing Lethbridge.
“We played Attainable last time, in November, and we’ve played the Electric Eye Music Festival a couple times and I played there in another band, Switches. People are so supportive and audiences in Lethbridge are willing to come out and listen to music that is a little more different and more experimental music,” she continued, adding she likes to experiment with her sound.
“I like to experiment in the context of a pop song,” she said.
Moore is still touring in support of her CD “Gaze.”
“It came out a year ago. Andy is moving to Montreal for a year, so I’m looking forward to concentrating on the technical side, the brain side and being able to focus on the creative side,” she said.
There is a $10 cover for the Aug. 5 show, which begins at 9 p.m.
Toronto-based indie rock/folk rock/Canadiana collective Midnight Vesta are excited to make their first sojourn to Western Canada with Kenora-born, Toronto-based singer songwriter Brooklyn Doran.
Their 25-date August tour stops by the Slice Tuesday, Aug. 8.
“I took a Via train solo as part of their artist support program. I got off at Jasper and rented a car to go to Calgary, but this is the first time the band as a whole has been to Western Canada,” said frontman Peter Jarvis, en route to his cabin north of Toronto.
Midnight Vesta solidified their lineup with bassist Nick Posthumous in January and recorded their second CD, “Seconds.”
“It’s a nice transition of who we were and where we hope to go. Because we still have some of the old members playing on it,” said Jarvis, noting band mates drummer Robert Patterson and lead guitarist Collin Carnegie are long time friends who have been playing music together for a while, though they have undergone several line up changes since their incarnation.
“I attended Bishop University and everybody else relocated, so none of us are actually from Toronto, but that is the centre for music,” Jarvis continued.
They are friends with fellow Toronto roots rock band Eli and the Straw Man and became intrigued by the Slice’s name on the poster.
“It looked like the place to play, so we reached out to the powers that be there,” he said.
All kinds of roots with Bobby Dove and Joey Only
There were only a dozen or so people on hand to see Montreal songwriter Bobby Dove and Northern B.C. funnyman/songwriter Joey Only at the Owl Acoustic lounge, Friday, July 27.
George Arsene opened the show with a handful of songs including “Whiskey, I Owe,” and another one he has on Skinny Dyck’s “Twenty One Night Stands” compilation.
Dove returned to Lethbridge to play a solo set of mostly original music full of melancholy melodies, counter balanced by bright guitar picking. So she sounded like kd lang in places, and Lucinda Williams in other places and added the element of classic country crooners like Patsy Cline.
She played several songs from her new CD “Thunderchild,” including a highlight, the Robert (Bobby) Hill penned “Welcome to the Real World Again.”
In addition to her own songs, she added covers of Hank Williams’ “Lost Highway” and Joe Ely’s “She Never Spoke Spanish to Me.”
She invited Joey Only on stage to sing “Don’t let Your Babies Grow up To be Cowboys” to wind down her set and ended with a cover of Ernest Tubbs’ “Thanks A Lot.”
After a lightning quick changeover, Joey Only took the stage for the complete opposite to Dove’s heartfelt, heartbroken muse.
Only played a bright set of quirky, politically incorrect and hilarious country music, setting the tone for his set with Washboard Hank’s “Soundcheck Song.”
Only sounded like a demented Hank Williams and reminded me of Boots and the Hoots, introducing himself as a “punk rock cowboy who will get drunk and talk bull,” which proved to be an apt description.
He opened with a quirky song about hunting and continued with a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Flush From the Bathroom of Your Heart.”
Another humourous song was “Dirty Old Egg Sucking Dog.” And another song about working at the defence plant.
He told a story about being entered in a best Canadian song competition with people like the Pack AD and Gord Downie, only to lose the contest to Aiden Knight, which he followed by playing his entry.
He gave a shout out to Bobby Dove, who was celebrating a birthday the next night, and played a song which could have come out of Tim Hus’ catalogue. I needed some air so heard the strains of a hilarious song about “16 Lanes of Douchebags.”
He ended the show around midnight with a Washboard Hank cover, “Chompy the Head Biter Offer.”
Wide Skies Music Festival a blast on sweltering summer night
It is the season for festivals, so the Geomatic Attic’s Mike Spencer added the Wide Skies Music Festival right between South Country Fair and the Calgary Folk Festival to take advantage of some of the acts in the area for both festivals.
Wednesday, July 26 featured a massive free show in the shadow of the Southminster United Church, where several hundred people escaped sweltering heat to enjoy local musicians including Shaela Miller and Ryland Moranz as well as one of South Country Fair’s highlights, Lindsay Beaver and the 24th Street Wailers. I missed Deep Dark Woods and Alex Cuba who headlined the day, but was glad to see Shaela Miller again. She played a set of mostly new music including “Colour My Love,” for which she just completed a cool new video.
She was backed by upright bassist Paul Holden and lead guitarist Evan Uschenko.
If you missed South Country Fair this year, Lindsay Beaver and the 24th Street Wailers played a very similar, hot set in the sweltering sun of mostly new material.
The Austin/Toronto-based quartet made the most of the last show on their tour by laying down a sizzling set of deep-fried, fun-filled Texas blues featuring the powerhouse vocals and drumming of Lindsay Beaver plus some scorching guitar playing from guitarists Marc Doucet and Josh Fulero trading sizzling leads while Mike Archer held down the groove on electric bass and upright bass for the second half of the set.
They were able to embark on hot blues jams to stretch out brand new material backstopped by Beaver’s relentless beat.
Their set was primarily upbeat, toe-tapping blues rockers, a touch of doo wop and blues shuffles, but slowed things down slightly for the plaintive love song “Tell Me What To Do.”
I left after hearing a couple excellent Ryland Moranz originals as he accompanied himself on guitar while Deep Dark Woods set up. Alex Cuba finished off the event.
Dave and Phil Alvin and the Guilty Few rock Southminster with Lindi Ortega
I was pleased to catch most of Lindi Ortega’s set at the Southminster United Church for the second day of the Wide Skies Music Festival. A good-sized crowd was sweltering inside Southminster United Church for a hot set of country and roots music.
Ortega had a lovely wavering, powerful yet plaintive voice as she and guitarist Champagne James Robertson played her new EP “What A Girl’s Gotta Do,” including the the title track.
She played songs from most of her CDs ranging from brand new like “What A Girl’s Gotta Do,” which she prefaced with a story about a guy taking her on a date to the strip club and meeting some of the strippers in the washroom and asking them if they enjoy what they’re doing, to plaintive love songs like “Dying of Another Broken Heart,” from one of her early EPs.
I enjoyed the more upbeat numbers like raucous slide-powered blues/country “Run Down Neighbourhood.”
The lineup changed from just Ortega singing with her guitar player, but she picked up an acoustic guitar for some lovely fingerpicking on a couple of songs and was joined by a drummer for more upbeat numbers.
For slower songs, “Cigarettes and Truck Stops” was a highlight.
She ended her set with a slow, spooky, menacing version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”
If it was hot outside, it was even hotter inside, not only due to the lack of air conditioning, but because of Dave and Phil Alvin’s scorching set of up-tempo, heartfelt blues and roots music.
The brothers made up for “Lost Time,” having never played here together, and Dave Alvin playing the Geomatic Attic with his band in 2010. There was gentle ribbing and lots of stories and jokes in between songs from their two CDs together “Common Ground: A Tribute to Big Bill Broonzy” and “Lost Time,” Dave Alvin solo projects and old songs from their ’80s rockabilly/roots band the Blasters.
Chris Miller, drummer Lisa Pankratz and her husband Brad Fordham on bass provided an impressive backing band.
Dave Alvin played sweet solos on his Stratocaster while Miller added subtle slide guitar on a couple of tracks. The exceptionally long-fingered Phil Alvin proved to be no slouch, soloing on acoustic guitar though his powerfully soulful tenor voice allowed the songs to ring true through the Southminster United Church.
Dave Alvin’s smooth baritone, reminiscent of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings’ Tom Willson, provided a beautiful balance of vocal harmony.
An early highlight, a gospel song originally written in the ’30s, but more and more relevant today was “I Declare the World’s in A Bad Condition.”
They picked up the tempo and the fun level with Oscar Brown Jr.’s “Mr. Kicks,” one of several old blues songs they played, which included several Big Joe Turner and Big Bill Broonzy’s toe tappers.
“Border Radio,” The first Blasters song they played, Dave Alvin introduced with a story about listening to radio from Mexico and Texas, and observed his brother was always the smartest one who was “smart enough to hire me as the songwriter.” So he introduced several songs by chuckling “here’s another song I wrote for my brother to sing.”
A solo Dave Alvin song “Johnny Ace is Dead” was another of my favourites, as he observed the border radio stations would get requests for ’50s pop/rockabilly star Johnny Ace.
Another highlight was a jam of the first song, Dave Alvin wrote, getting the brothers to reunite “What’s With Your Brother,” which allowed plenty of jokes and solos for everyone in the band.
Pankratz was a blur throughout and got to really show her talents near the end of the show as Dave and Phil Alvin, put their arms around each other, stood back and watch her hammer away at her skins during the last song of an extended jam of the Blasters’ “Marie Marie,” which Dave Alvin noted became immensely popular with the Louisiana zydeco scene, and which drew a standing ovation.
They were called back for an encore.
Beds and Sunshine and the Blue Moon
Ontario bands Beds and Sunshine and the Blue Moon added a whole lot of laid back groove on a Wednesday night at the Slice, July 26.
While I missed an opening set by a two-piece Biloxi Parish, I was in time to join a handful of people listening to Thunder Bay psychedelic rock band Sunshine and the Blue Moon.
They drew heavily from the well of the likes of Pink Floyd and Radiohead, so there was plenty of delay and flange-heavy guitars and lot of mellow groove.
Beds were in a similar vein as expected as they just slightly tweaked the lineup of Sunshine and the Blue Moon.
Nanton Arts Fest warms up Sunday
Shakespeare in the Park’s production of “A Comedy of Errors” was one of several performances during the Coutts Arts Centre arts festival, July 23, just outside of Nanton. A good-sized crowd relaxed in the sweltering sunny Sunday day, enjoying a variety of performances.
I always enjoy Lethbridge jazz combo the Groove Apostles, so was glad to have caught them.
They began with a set of upbeat instrumental jazz which gave everyone a chance to solo.
Shelby Wilson joined them on vocals to sing a variety of R and B and soulful hits including The Four Seasons’ “Oh What A Night (December 1963)” and Carole King’s “I Feel Earth Move.”
Classical guitarist Dale Ketcheson and percussionist Joe Porter set the mood for Shakespeare by performing an array of gorgeously picked classical melodies, some dating back to the 1600s
South Country Fair lots of fun on Saturday
I always seem to miss the nasty weather at South Country Fair, so I missed the tiny tornado that rolled through the fair grounds on Friday and was the talk of the town by the time I arrived at the Fort Macleod Fish and Games Park, bright and early.
The dust devil destroyed several tents and caused a few minor injuries. So several people including CKUA spent their Saturday morning jury rigging a tent to provide blessed shade for what would be a sweltering day of excellent music.
Musically, bagpipes and banjo were the order of the day, with several of the acts adding them to their instrumental arsenal.
Mayor Washboard Hank started jamming in the merch tent early before leading a parade through the fair grounds, getting the few early risers to follow and sing along of “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “Will the Circle be Unbroken” on the way back.
I only caught a few acts from the “Sirens of Song” workshop featuring Mariel Buckley, Dana Sipos and Eliza Doyle, sharing songs and giving a quick preview of their individual sets later on in the weekend.
As I was ensconced comfortably in the CKXU tent, I enjoyed an intriguing mix of bluegrass, blues, quirky folk and roots music from Yukon-based songwriter Gordie Tentrees and multi-instrumentalist Jaxon Haldane, who played mandolin, banjo, a cigar box guitar and even the saw on a couple of tracks.
They are always lots of fun. A highlight of their set was a cover of a Steve Poltz song called “Trade Donald Trump.”
Tentrees told stories and played dirty, acoustic blues.
The East Stage had a solid afternoon lineup. I only caught a touch of local jazz/folk/rock band the Junkman’s Quire, who were playing a little bit of reggae by the time I left the stage.
Bluegrass was the order of the day for several acts this weekend.
Vancouver’s Viper Central played an excellent set of pop, rock and gathered around a single microphone for several traditional bluegrass music, showing off seller vocal harmonies. “Gold Mine” was a highlight of that set.
Edmonton-based Joe Nolan and his band the Dogs played a set of more indie pop and rock like a mix of Rob Thomas/Matchbox 20 and Los Lonely Boys mixed with a touch of alt country added for variety.
That set also featured some pretty harmonized guitar.
The South Stage cooked as usual.
Washboard Hank, Sweet Mountain Muriel, Gordie Tentrees and Scott Nolan played a touching workshop tribute to Willie P Bennett. So they sang the songs and told stories about the prominent mandolinist/harmonica player/songwriter who used to play with Fred Eaglesmith before passing away in 2008, and who inspired the band Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, who named their band after one of Bennett’s songs.
South Country Fair Songwriting competition winner Carter Felker wasn’t able to play his slot due to another gig, so got his friend Ari from Chicken-Like Birds to play his songs instead.
Most of the night was all about bagpipes, beginning with Spencer Murray and PipeSlinger, who plate more traditional Celtic rock in their set of toe-tapping banjo, bagpipes, Irish pipes and a lot more to get the enthusiastic audience on their feet.
A revamped Lindsay Beaver and the 24th Street Wailers played an exceptional set of party blues and swing music.
The Halifax-born, Austin-bred quintet took the audience down to Texas with intense blues jams and relentless rhythm. They definitely sound like they have been based in Austin, channelling blues rockers like the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Beaver stood behind the drums, pounded out unstoppable beats while singing, with her plaintive, yet powerful pipes, a set of primarily brand new material with a couple older tracks like “Evil.”
One of many highlights was “Shake.”
I caught most of the set from bagpipe rockers The Johnny McCuaig Band
They sounded like ’80s pop metal mixed with bagpipes.
So there were plenty of guitar pyrotechnics and shout along choruses. Frontman Johnny mc’s pleasant tenor sounded eerily reminiscent of Streetheart’s Kenny Shields, who passed away last week.
They played plenty of music from their most recent, 2015 CD “ Hold Fast” and introduced a brand new song. I w had to leave early as they were playing a rollicking version of AC DC’s “ Long Way To The Top (If You Want to Rock and Roll).” So I unfortunately missed Bad Pop, who ended the night.
Slice — The Archaics
Slice — open mic
Twin Butte Store — Jay Aymar 8 p.m.
Average Joe’s— Yuk Yuks Comedy
Slice — Puttin on the Foil
Honker’s Pub — open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Celeigh Cardinal
Slice — J Blissette with Marlaena Moore and Birch Barks 9 p.m. $10
Twin Butte Store — Celeigh Cardinal 8 p.m.
Honker’s Pub — afternoon open mic
Coyote Joe’s — open mic
Exhibition Park — Floyd Sillito 11 a.m.
Onion — open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge — open mic
Slice — Midnight Vesta
Smokehouse — open mic with Daylan Delaney 8 p.m.
Slice — Windy City Opry
Slice — open mic
Twin Butte Store — Pat Maloney 8 p.m,
Slice — Shagadelic
Galt Gardens — Apple Fest
Twin Butte Store — Rob Hollis 8 p.m,
Slice — The Stray ArcsLots of rockin’ as August gets underway