School’s back and so is the live music, even on a long, Labour Day weekend.
But end August with a whole lot of laughs at the Owl Acoustic Lounge standup comedy open mic, Wednesday Aug, 30. It begins at 9 p.m. There is no charge.
There is a special event at the Owl Acoustic Lounge the next night, Aug. 31 as they host Busted Up, a special fundraiser for scenester Derek Hoyle who had a serious workplace accident. There will live music and a silent auction, with all proceeds going to help out Derek Hoyle while he is off work.
Admission is $10.
The Slice opens September with Calgary-based progressive metal band Anti-Pattern with a touch of jazz courtesy of local jazz rock band the Groove Apostles and a new Edmonton-based “math-jazz” band called Red Litmus, who have two shows this week. Red Litmus are also playing the Owl Acoustic Lounge on Sept. 2 with Swift Current progressive rock band the Moon Runners.
The Slice finishes August on a rock and roll note as they welcome back Regina-based desert rock band Snake River along with local rockers Biloxi Parish and experimental ambient musician An Ant and An Atom. Admission is $5.
Club Didi opens their new season with a couple of events. The first episode of improvised soap opera Starship Gammorah is Sept. 1. The monthly improvised soap opera brings the cast on an interstellar journey fraught with scandal and intrigue and most likely a lot of laughs. Admission is $10 for the show, which begins at 9 p.m.
The next night Club Didi features Meet Thew Queens, which is a chance to meet some of Didi’s drag performers who will be featured every month.
The first open mic of the season is Sept. 5 at Club Didi as well from 8-10 p.m. Come and hang out with hosts Jeff and Rylan and bring an instrument. Cover is by donation.
On a country note, local country/roots singer Karen Romanchuk returns to the Mocha Cabana on Friday, Sept. 1.
For something a little more mainstream, “Hold Me Beer” as Average Joe’s hosts country star Aaron Pritchett, riding high on his latest hit “VW Bus.” Craig Moritz will be opening the show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance, $40 on the day of the show.
But the biggest event of the week is part of the university of Lethbridge’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
There are three big days of events at the university of Lethbridge, Sept, 1-3, with the biggest show happening on Sept. 2. The Shine On Music Festival runs all day long from noon with a variety of performers including alternative rock band Doublejack, Trevor Panczak, DJ Millz Skillz, Vancouver indie rock band Mother Mother, up-and-coming Vancouver-based roots and country band Washboard Union, local country musician Corb Lund and Vancouver-based superstar Dallas Smith. Admission is $65 for U of L students and alumni, $75 for the general public.
The next day the fun continued with a free festival featuring a battle of the bands with the Youngbloods, country band Alyssa McQuaid and Coyote Junction, hip hop group the AWD fellows with funk rock trio Adequate, Nevada Place, young rock band Diversified and local rock band Scotch Whiskey Limousine. There will also be a two rugby games, a craft market, food trucks, an inflatable obstacle course, round dance, cultural demonstration and a beer gardens.
Country roots musician Corb Lund is not only glad to be back home in Lethbridge , but is excited to play a long awaited, rare local gig at the Shine On music festival, Sept. 2
He keeps a low profile when gets back home to music row in Lethbridge, aka 7th ave where his neighbours include well known local musicians like Leeroy Stagger, John Wort Hannam, Trevor Panczak and Dave McCann.
Lund is starting work on new music.
“I think the last album came out two or three years ago, so I’ve been trying to carve out time to write,” he said
Playing the Shine On music festival is especially special, since he went to the University of Lethbridge and lived in residence before moving to Edmonton to study music at Grant MacEwan College to study music, where he formed popular alternative rock band the smalls, which toured all over Canada before disbanding, which lead to Lund embarking on a successful solo country and roots career.
“I don’t know what I’ll be playing yet. I don’t use a set list. We‘ll wing it,” he said, noting he will be joined by long time band mates, bassist Kurt Ciesla, drummer Brady Valgardson and lead guitarist Grant Siemens, who are also on his albums.
Playing the Shine On music festival is especially special, since he went to the University of Lethbridge and lived in residence before moving to Edmonton to study music at Grant MacEwan College, where he formed popular alternative rock band the smalls, which toured all over Canada before disbanding, which led to Lund embarking on a successful solo country and roots career.
Lund has been lucky enough to work with one of his idols Ian Tyson.
“I’ve known him for about 10 years. He’s a great guy as well as a Canadian legend. I just talked to him. Actually we have a show coming up together in Ottawa. So I’m going to be starting rehearsals for that,” he said.
Lund got a sponsorship from Budweiser beer to help tour this year.
“Nobody makes money selling records anymore,” he observed.
“It’s interesting, my audience is split between people who drink craft beers, but the other half are cowboys, so they relate to that,” he said.
Lund has had several highlights on the road this year.
“I played the National Finals (NFR ) rodeo in Las Vegas. There were cowboys from everywhere, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Texas, all over the Western U.S. and Canada, Alberta and B.C.,” he observed.
He is at home in cowboy culture, which is no surprise, growing up on a ranch near Taber and used to compete in rodeos as a teenager.
“I used to ride steers when I was a teenager. But I started to get interested in music at that time and quit just in time,” he said.
Another highlight this year was playing some shows with Miranda Lambert.
“I got to drink some beers with her. She’s a very down-to-earth person. And even though she’s more mainstream than I am, she knew my music and all of my friends’ music in my scene and all of the people I know in Texas,” he said.
He is trying to write new music for a new album he hopes to have completed by next year.
“I have a song about baling hay and another one about opening and closing gates. I’ve always written about Western Canada.
“I believe in the regionalization of music for songwriting. I call my style of music Agriculture tragic or AgTag,“ he chuckled.
He is looking forward to the rest of his gigs this year.
“I’m looking forward to this one and playing with Ian Tyson in Ottawa.
“We’re on second last (at Shine On) at 7:15 p.m. right before Dallas (Smith). I promise it won’t be so long until the next one,” said Lund, who was looking forward to going to Taber Cornfest to see his cousin Fallon Nelson’s band perform
Vancouver-based indie rock/ pop band Mother Mother return to Lethbridge to play the Shine On music Festival, Sept. 2.
“It’s going to be a really good show. We’ll play a lot of the new album, the older hits and some new songs. it will be a really well-rounded show,” he promised.
Visually, other than lights, their show will be pretty basic looking.
“We have lights, but we don’t have any pyrotechnics or projections. That can really detract from the music. So we have lights that reflect the emotional weight of the music.
He noted the highlight of the year was selling out a five night run at esteemed Vancouver venue the Commodore.
“I used to go see shows there all the time and never in my life did I think I’d be playing there even as an opening act, but here I was playing a residency there,” he enthused.
“2017 has been a pretty crazy year, but it’s been a lot of fun,” he said, adding they are releasing another single “Baby Boy” off their new album.
“Then we’ll disappear down the writing hole,” he said, noting baby boy is definitely not as light sounding as the title as it doesn’t have anything about babies or boys.
“It comes from a real left of centre place for us. We‘re glad our management team chose it as a single,” said frontman Ryan Guldemond, who is joined by his sister Molly Guldemond on keyboards and vocals, Jasmin Parkin on keyboards and vocals and drummer Ali Siadat.
They always enjoy playing Lethbridge.
“It’s always a lot of fun and audiences always let it all out,” he continued.
“It’s going to be a really good show. We’ll play a lot of the new album, the older hits and some new songs. it will be a really well-rounded show,” he promised.
Mother Mother is touring in support of their new CD “No Culture,” which features their new hit single “Baby Boy,” which is not as innocuous as it sounds. It is the story of a friend who became addicted to drugs, whose older sister took care of him and called him “Baby Boy.”
B.C. roots/country trio Washboard Union are excited to play the Shine On Music Festival.
They have done a lot since forming about three years ago. Multi-instrumentalist David Roberts met step-brothers Aaron Grain and Chris Ducombe while renting rooms in an old1920s Tudor house in Vancouver.
“Their parents met each other and married, so they’ve known each other since they were 13 and 14,” Roberts observed, adding they immediately started singing and playing together.
“It‘s great. we love what we do. We love making music together,” he continued.
“All of us are multi-instrumentalists and we all write songs, so there is never any trouble coming up with material for an album.
“There are a lot of creative possibilities,” he continued.
“Some of our first shows were birthday parties in the basement of that house” he said, adding a serendipitous meeting with super producer Garth Richardson, who has produced hard rock acts like Nickelback and Hedley, set them on their path.
“He happened to be at tone of those parties. And even though he]s known as a a rock guy, he said he liked what we were doing and wanted to record a few of our sings,” Roberts continued, adding Richardson introduced them to super producer Bob Ezrin.
“And he’s worked with Peter Gabriel and Pink Floyd and he was excited about us,” he enthused.
“We just sing our hearts out. We write simple music for complicated times,” he said, adding they are grateful for the help of such high profile people.
“We have three really different voices with different influences. Chris listens to a lot of R and B, Aaron is the country guy. We’re three voices which are better together than on our own. I don’t sound as good without Chris and Aaron, and they don’t sound as good without me,” he added.
“We have a ton of influences. We sings songs that go back all the way to 1947,” he continued, adding they also like bluegrass music as well.
“Though we’re not the greatest bluegrass players,” he continued.
They have a lot of excellent gigs coming up.
“We’re playing the CCMA awards in September. That’s going to be really fun,” he said, adding after that, they are going to work on a new album.
“We hope to release it in the Spring. But last time we wrote 57 songs to choose from and we had to whittle them down,” he continued.
Washboard Union plays the Shine On Music Festival at around 4 p.m.
B.C.-based country star Aaron Pritchett is on a roll with a score of hit singles from his latest Juno nominated album “The Score,“ including the latest single “VW Van.”
He is excited to return to Lethbridge to play Average Joe’s, Sept. 4 with Craig Moritz in support of the CD.
“It’s been a crazy year. It’s been really busy,” said Pritchett, preparing for a show at the CNE in Toronto.
“But it was nice. I got to take three weeks off in July.”
He is pleased with the string of hits from the last album including “VW Bus,” coming hot on the heels of the other hit singles “Out of the Blue,” “Dirt Road In Em,” “Out of the Blue” and “Mama’s Boy Meets a Daddy’s Girl.”
“I actually bought a 1973 VW bus, so as soon as the song was submitted with the name ‘VW Bus,’ I said ‘this is perfect. I hope it’s good,” he enthused.
“It kind of describes my life now,” said Pritchett, who lives an easygoing life spent half on the road and half at home on Gabriola Island, where he bought the Silva Bay Restaurant and Pub last year.
“It’s a song that’s a very much slice of life story and I always like to choose the best songs I can whether I write them or not,” he observed.
“It‘s been a few years since I’ve had so many hits, so it‘s nice,” he said.
He will be joined by the same band as his last visit including bassist Shane Hendrickson, band leader Scott Smith, drummer Jayson Brinkworth and new addition Kirby Barber, who adds a new dimension to the show and the sound.
“We’ve added Kirby Barber. She’s a really good guitar player and she can sing the high harmonies. She’s definitely added an extra layer of sound,” Pritchett enthused.
He noted the new CD has more traditional instrumentation. “The last album was more country rock edge. This one has more mandolin and fiddle. Those instruments are tracked, so they’re there in the live show. But we don’t have them live. It would be nice to have them live, but all of the mandolin players are already in bands,” he observed.
He always enjoys returning to Average Joe’s.
“They’re always good to us and the audiences like to have fun,” Pritchett said.
Tickets for the Sept. 4 show are $35 in advance, $40 on the day of the show. The show begins at 8 p.m.
Outrun the Arrow, Scotch Whiskey Limosine, Chans
I haven’t seen local hard rock band Outrun the Arrow in a while, so I was pleased to have been able to catch the first part of their opening set Friday, Aug. 18 at the Slice.
They had a good crowd on hand to excited to hear them plus Calgary-based guitar and drum duo Chans and local rock band Scotch Whiskey Limosine, who I also haven’t seen for a few months.
As usual Outrun the Arrow were powered by the powerhouse vocals of Bridgette Yarwood and the jagged guitar riffs of her big brother Richard and the rock steady rhythm section of little brother Brendon and bassist Brian Kostersky.
Bridgette scampered all over the stage howling tortured multi-octave vocals into her microphone whilst grinning and chatting with the enthusiastic audience, who started a mini-mosh pit in front of the stage.
They played a variety of old songs like “Passion for Power,” and their new single “The Middle” as well as newer songs. They were called back for an encore of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” as she got some of the more enthusiastic audience members to howl the chorus into the microphone with her.
Chans, a.k.a. guitarist/vocalist Tony Chan and drummer/vocalist Tommy Chan, played more of an intense ambient indie rock, reflecting the sound of a heavier Radiohead.
Scotch Whisky Limousine always entertain. They played a set of original blues-based rock an roll with plenty of guitar, a relentless rhythm and a whole lot of fun. They even added a couple keyboards and saxophone solos and had a big, deep-fried Texas sound along the lines of Kenny Wayne Sheppard and the Arc Angels with a touch of Danko Jones’ fun loving rock and roll party sound.
Their upbeat set got the enthusiastic grown in the mood to party
FLIPfest with the Shiverettes, Bunwitch
FLIPfest opened Friday, Aug. 18 at the Owl Acoustic Lounge with a special show, of which I only caught parts of.
Saskatoon-based alternative rock band Bunwitch played an impressive first gig. They featured jangling 12-string guitar and shared lead vocal duties.
The band I really wanted to hear and see was Calgary’s Shiverettes, touring in support of their new CD “Dead Men Don’t Catcall.” They wound up an energetic set of alternative rock, punk and Riot Grrl ’90s rock with the title track to their new CD as well as other highlights from it like “Missing Step.”
Haley Muir was an affable lead singer, though guitarist Kaely Cormack sang lead vocals on a song and sang harmonies on a few others. They played a loud, intense, politically charged set of music featuring feminist issues and decrying rape culture, but also with a touch of humour as they added a Ramones’ cover, which I didn’t recognize.
FLIPfest – Shaela Miller
I missed most of FLIPfest in Saturday, Aug. 19, but made a point of catching the Shaela Miller band’s festival closing set.
Miller always improves every time I see her. She dominated the stage as she sang heartfelt plaintive originals including old favourites like “Half Way in Love” and “Loving Me,” plus newer songs like “Cheating and lying” plus a solid cover of Ernest Tubbs’ “Thanks a Lot.” which got a good chunk of the crowd dancing.
She had her excellent full band including steel guitarist Skinny Dyck, guitarist Evan Uschenko, drummer Tyler Bird and upright bassist Paul Holden.
Whoop-Up Days – .38 Special/April Wine
I only got to one of an outstanding Whoop Up Days Line Up— Wednesday, Aug. 23— the classic rock night featuring a “Wonderful night” of ’70s and ’80s hit delivered in spades by Halifax born, Montreal based rockers April Wine and Florida rockers .38 Special.
April Wine “Still Like to Rock,” and showed it by opening strong with “Could Have Been a Lady” and “Fast Train” and one of my absolute favourites, “Enough is Enough,”
They focused on the rockers from their late ’70s, early ’80s “Nature of the Beast” era heyday. The semi-retired frontman Myles Goodwyn still has an impressive set of pipes, nailing the high notes of most of the band’s hits, though drummer Roy “Nip” Nichol nailed the earth shaking , heart stopping shrieks of another favourite “Weeping Widow.” Bassist Richard Lanther added extra vocal harmonies to fill out the band’s sound.
Long-time guitarist Brian Greenway also sang his share of the hits in his gravelly, AC DC-styled voice while adding blazing solos, though he gave his axe a rest to play a mournful harmonica solo on “Rock and Roll Is a Vicious Game.”
Greenway added a hot solo to “I Like to Rock,” while Goodwyn played the ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” part of the song‘s bridge.
In addition to their many hits to which the crowd happily sang along to, they also brought out a few obscurities including a song which featured a lovely arpeggiated lick, which I didn’t recognize. “I Wanna Rock,” was another pleasant album track.
The crowd sang along with “Tonight is a Wonderful Night to Fall in Love.”
They saved a hot version of “Sign of the Gypsy Queen” for near the end of their set and officially ended their show with “Roller.” Of course, they were called back for an encore of “Crash and Burn” and “Oowatanite,” which left eardrums ringing as much as the frenetic cowbell powered rhythm of the song.
I’ve never seen .38 Special before. And despite only having one original member, frontman/guitarist Don Barnes remaining, they still brought back the spirit of ’70s southern rock and ’80s arena rock. They also had long time guitarist Danny Chauncey, who happily traded leads with Barnes and leaped all over the stage and even played some sweet guitar harmonies. Long-time keyboardist Bobby Capp stood in the background adding subtle stings and drummer Gary Moffatt hammered away at the skins, getting his own time in the spotlight near the end of the show for a thunderous drum solo.
“Rocking into the Night,” was a good theme for the evening as the sun set over the grandstand as they played hit after hit including one of my favourites “Back Where You belong” as well as “Wild Eyed Southern Boys.”
They played a mini set of some of their best known movie hits including “Take Me Back To Paradise” and “Teacher Teacher,” and even played several upbeat rockers from Don Barnes‘ solo record “Riding the Thunder.”
As expected they played some of their hit ballads like “If I Could Be the One.”
A highlight was the rocker “Trooper with an Attitude.”
They saved “Caught Up in You” for near the end of the set and were called back for an encore of “Hold On Loosely ” and a cover of Bob Seger and the Silver bullet band’s “Travelin’ Band.”
New West Theatre brings their “Barn Dance” to a close with three more shows including two shows on Saturday, which will also mark the last shows at the Yates theatre, before it closes for renovations.
As expected, New West Theatre’s second summer show of the season is all about country music — namely more modern country music, but with a couple classics from Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and Hank Williams Jr.’s “All my Rowdy Friends,” which the cast opens the the show with.
The set is designed to look like a barn with the band playing against a barn wall, plus several movable wall and corral and wooden bar and bar stools which are moved into place as needed.
I’m not a huge country music fan, but this show includes quite a few ’90s country nuggets, which I used to play back in the day when I was in a country band, namely the Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl,” which is performed with a lot of sass and humour by the female cast members Erica Hunt, Kathy Zaborsky and newcomer Andrea Bailey, who though she is studying for her education degree in Edmonton, I hope she returns for another New West show.
Bailey is a real pleasure to watch, she struts around the stage with sassy attitude and a mischievous grin. She is hilarious in her comedy bits, especially as a mother writing a letter to her son as she delivers absolutely corny lines and puns in a deadpan voice you can’t help but to laugh out loud at. The comedy as a general rule relies a bit much on rural stereotypes and delightfully awful puns, for which I had trouble restraining myself from shouting out the punchline on a couple, but which also took off in delightfully unexpected hilarious tangents on others.
While Bailey is nestled in the corner reading her hilarious letter out loud, the rest of the stage is being set for a wonderful version of The Band Perry’s “ If I Die Young,” sung by the always delightful Kathy Zaborsky, which also allows guitarist Scott Mezei to show off some mandolin skills.
Bailey shows some mighty powerful pipes especially on numbers like Trisha Yearwood’s “She‘s In Love with The Boy.“
The rest of the cast, including the always amazing Erica Hunt, plus Rylan Kunkel, AJ Baragar and Kyle Gruninger, though talented veterans by now, also provide pleasant surprises.
AJ Baragar shows he can do a mean Garth Brooks during a Garth Brooks medley performed by the guys.
Baragar also plays a great version of Bo Burnham’s bro country parody “Pandering,” one of several songs featuring him playing acoustic guitar as well. Andrea Bailey plays a great straight woman during that bit, which only enhances the humour.
New West’s Barn Dance is a natural fit for Kunkel who comes from a long family tradition of the Great Canadian Barn Dance. He shines on an impassioned version of Kenny Rogers‘ “The Gambler,” Willie Nelson’s “City of New Orleans” as well as a beautiful duet with Andrea Bailey of Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood’s “Remind me.”
And you can’t have a New West production with director Jay Whitehead without a bit featuring guys dressed as girls.
Even AJ Baragar, playing the straight man, was having trouble keeping a straight face, while Kyle Gruninger and Rylan Kunkel, dressed in Daisy Duke shorts, bras and blonde wigs, hung off his shoulders in a comedy bit which followed a version of Luke Bryan’s “Country Girl (Shake it for me).”
Kyle Gruninger was also hilarious as usual and also was a pleasant surprise singing country music, as I usually know him for being an amazing rock and metal singer.
Shelby Wilson is always a pleasure to watch, in comedy bits, but especially belting out huge versions of songs from Dolly Parton as well as as part of an excellent Shania Twain medley performed by the ladies.
Erica Hunt is always a multi-talented treat to watch on stage in both comedy bits and as a powerhouse vocalist standing out on a great version of Reba McEntire’s “Fancy.”
My favourite Erica Hunt bits were her twisted square dance call ad role as bartender miss Kitty handling a cadre of unruly customers including a deadbeat Rylan Kunkel character.
Owl Acoustic Lounge–Stand up Comedy open mic
Slice— Snake River and Biloxi Parish and An Ant and an Atom $5
Slice— open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge–Busted up Fundraiser for Derek Hoyle (ticketed event)
Mocha Cabana– Karen Romanchuk
The Slice—Red Litmus with the Groove Apostles and Anti pattern $10
The owl Acoustic lounge—
Honker’s pub— open mic
Club Didi— Starship Gomorrah $10 9 p.m.
U of L— Shine On Summerfest with Washboard union and Corb Lund
Club Didi— meet the Queens $5
Slice— The Air streams
Owl Acoustic lounge— Red Litmus with the Moon Runners
Average joes— Aaron Pritchett with Craig Moritz $40 day of show $35 advance
Club Didi— open mic 8-11 p.m. cover by donation
Club didi— Showtunes Singalong
Slice— Woodhawk, Cope, Supervoid
Mocha Cabana–Don Robb and Randy Epp
University of Lethbridge— Freshwest with Walshy Fire, Haywyre, Said the Whale, Scott Helman, Neon Dreams, Scotch Whiskey Limosine, TreyMark with Dylan Playfair of Letterkenny
Owl Acoustic Lounge— Loans, Rainboard, Unbroken Circle
Slice—Pahanamaneorm old school DJ night
Casa— ukulele jam,
The Slice — Weber brothers $15
Moose Hall— Strange Adventures with the RiverJacks and mansbridge $10 all ages
Enmax— Daniel O’Donnell
Owl Acoustic Lounge— Douse (YVR) with WINT and Curtis Windover
Club Didi— Drop in improv 8 p.m. cover by donation