This is a great week to catch super-talented female singer songwriters.
But first, the February edition of Windy City Opry features bluegrass including Saskatoon-based bluegrass/oldtime country duo Rugged Little Thing a.k.a. banjo picker/vocalist Jille Shotton and guitarist/vocalist Ryan Shotton and Gold Ol’ Goats’ bluegrass-influenced folk side project the Doggone brothers featuring Fernie residents Clayton Parsons and Michael Hepher.
The show begins at 8 p.m. sharp. There is a $10 cover.
On the weekend, Calgary-based blues trio the Eric Braun band return to Casino Lethbridge, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15 and 16.
The ladies take over on thee weekend. Austin, Texas-based, P.E.I.-raised country musician Whitney Rose plays her first Lethbridge show at the Geomatic Attic, Feb. 16 in support of her sophomore album “Rule 62.”
The show begins at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $32.50 in advance, $35.50 at the door.
Edmonton/Kingston-based songwriter Colleen Brown brings her new band Major Love, featuring members of Scenic Route From Alaska and Elijah Abrams play the Slice in support of their new single Tear it Down from a new self titled album to be released in August.
Local indie rock band the Utilities will be opening the show in support of their new CD “Heavy South.”
The show begins at 9 p.m.
Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door.
Also on the weekend, LEMF holds their annual Bridge bash at the Moose Hall, Feb. 16 featuring local electronica artists Artikz, Verboze, mind of Gaia and Klyptik. Admission if free until 10 p.m.
Pianist Cal Toth plays a special second anniversary gig at the Kingsmen Ale house, Feb. 16
Over at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, local indie rock/pop/lo-fi band WINT perform, Feb. 16.
The next night, the Owl Acoustic Lounge features a night of alternative rock and dream pop with Calgary-based musicians Evan Freeman, Vagrant Souls and local band Birch Barks.
The Slice features several excellent pop punk bands, Feb. 17 with Saskatoon’s Mostly Wanted, local pop punk band Friends Over Fame, Greyscale Manor and Tanner Cyr. There is a $10 cover for that show, which begins at 9 p.m.
And if you are in the mood to laugh, Mike “Pickle” Dambra returns to Lethbridge to perform at Average Joe’s, Sunday, Feb. 18 at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.
The next week begins with open mics at the Slice and Onion on Monday as usual. However, the Owl Acoustic Lounge features a special show on Tuesday, Feb. 20 as Fernie-based stoke folk band Shred Kelly make a long-awaited return to Lethbridge in support of their fourth album Archipelago. The show, which begins at 8 p.m., is a ticketed event. So admission is $20.
Edmonton/Kingston singer songwriter Colleen Brown is excited to share the fruits of a new collaboration with Scenic Route To Alaska, Elijah Abrams and Jesse Northey, when she brings Major Love, to the Slice with the Utilities, Feb. 16.
“Jesse won’t be playing the Lethbridge show. He and Elijah Abrams alternate when one can’t make a show,” said Brown from her home of Edmonton, looking at a foot of snow outside her window.
“I even wrote a song about the drive from Edmonton to Lethbridge, it can be quite a harrowing,” she observed.
She hasn’t played Lethbridge since 2015, so she is excited to show off the new band for a handful of Alberta shows next week.
“Scenic Route From Alaska and I were both touring Europe at the same time and ended up playing together at a place called the Bedroom Bar in Shoreditch and we decided to work together,” she said, adding they decided to make a record together back home in Jesse Northey’s True North studio in Edmonton.
“I’ve known Jesse for a long time, for at least six years when he was still promoting shows in Lethbridge,” she said, adding she first started working with him on a solo song called “Swallowed Whole and wanted to work with him again on the new project.
“It was magical,” she said.
“But that collaboration with Scenic Route to Alaska was a confluence of a lot of different elements,“ she said.
Major Love will be releasing several singles before releasing their full-length debut album on Aug. 18.
The first single, “Tear It Down,” features a time-delay video of a house being torn down, shot by Brent Nurse several years ago which reflects the theme of the song about having to tear something old down to build something new and better.
She decided to name the band Major Love to reflect the collaborative process between the band members and the feel of the music.
“I don’t want to be known as a singer songwriter. I wanted a more open creative process. Before I’d bring the songs in and tell everyone what I wanted. This time I gave up control and let the songs percolate and let everyone add whatever they were feeling. My main driver is about putting out good vibes into the world,” she said.
Touring Major Love could be challenging with Scenic Route to Alaska touring with their own music and Jesse Northey busy in Edmonton.
“But I have a lot of options. Eli and I can tour as a duo. I can tour on my own and I’ve always wanted to do a Joni Mitchell project as I often get compared to her. There are a lot of options. But we’re just going to go with the flow,” she said, adding when the album comes out in August, Major Love will do a bigger tour.
She is also part of alternative rock band the Secretaries.
“We haven’t played together in a year. For that band, we really need to plan because we need to spend a lot of time together. I would love to play with them again,” she said.
Major Love and the Utilities play the Slice, Feb. 16 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door.
Austin-based, P.E.I.-born and raised singer songwriter Whitney Rose is excited to play Lethbridge for the first time, Feb. 16 at the Geomatic Attic.
“I don’t think I’ve even been to Lethbridge, though a lot of my friends have played the Geomatic Attic, so I’m excited to see it and maybe get some time to explore Lethbridge in between soundcheck and the show,” said Rose from her home in Austin, where she is getting ready to go to Memphis for a week to write and attend the Ameripolitan awards where she has been nominated for for best honky tonk woman of the year.
“I’m going there for the Ameripolitan awards. So I’m very excited about that,” she said.
While she grew up in P.E.I., she was not drawn to playing Celtic music.
“There are a lot of really talented musicians there. I love to sit down and listen to a good Rankin Family album. I love that stuff, but it’s just not what I do,” said Rose, who has called Austin home since 2015.
“I love it here. It’s a very special part of the country. There is a lot of great music and I’ve got to meet some of the people I grew up listening to on the radio,” she said, adding she has been fortunate to be able to work with some of them as well, like Raul Malo of the Mavericks, who she has been collaborating with since her first album in 2015. She noted a tour with the mavericks eventually lead to collaboration.
“It’s a great collaboration. He’s playing all over the new album Rule 62. Working with him was such a fantastic experience — so low pressure. He really respects the music,” she said.
She said people have been responding well to the album since it was released in October.
“It’s been great. Now it’s time to hit the road and we’ll see if they show to up to the shows,” she said.
She said the lyrics are inspired by her life, but also with a humorous angle.
“The lyrics are about particular events in life, but with an approach that is almost comedic. Rule 62 is the rule from Alcoholics Anonymous which states not to take everything so damn seriously. Because I play so much, most of the songs are written in shitty hotel rooms,” she giggled.
She sounds similar to Margo Price, but she has never met her.
“I know of her, but I’ve never met her. We’re playing some of the same festivals in the summer, so hopefully I’ll get to meet her then,” Rose said.
In the meantime, so has a lot of touring scheduled.
“I’m going to Memphis for a week for the Ameriposa Awards, then meeting up with my band in Denver and we’ll play Seattle, Portland, some dates in California, Calgary, Lethbridge and Western Canada, then Vancouver and back here for SouthbySouthwest,” she summarized.
After that, she is doing another tour of Europe including gigs in the United Kingdom and Germany and returning in time for the summer festival season.
“Last year I played 200 shows and so far this year I’m on track to play at least that many again,” she said.
Whitney Rose plays the Geomatic Attic, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $32.50 and $35.50.
Fernie-based stoke-folk band Shred Kelly is stoked to present their fourth album “Archipelago” at a special CD release party at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Tuesday, Feb. 20.
The band including McBride, Tim Newton, banjo, ukulele player and guitarist, bassist Jordan Vlasschaert and guitarist Ty West plus touring drummer Eddie Arnett, have released videos for the first two singles, the title track back in October and “Don’t Ever Look Back,” which was released Feb. 9.
“The new album is about our relationships,” observed lead singer/keyboardist Sage McBride, from her home in Fernie,where she is watching the weather alternate between snow and rain.
She is excited about the new videos for the first two singles.
“We used Calgary company ‘Light Factory’ for Archipelago and ‘Don’t Ever Look Back.’ There were really influenced by the play ‘Heterophobia,’ so the Archipelago video is about people’s relationship to the song, happy situations, sad situations, stressful situations while they’re listening to it.” The next one is more straight ahead about relationships,” she said.
While some of the song titles might suggest the new album is all about space, McBride said it isn’t.
“It’s about relationships. Jupiter 9 was on the keyboard we used on it and we got so used to calling it Jupiter, we didn’t bother changing the name,” she said.
“Nova is one of the more space themed songs, though it is also about relationships. But then Tim (Newton, banjo player/lead singer) is a real space geek, he goes to sleep watching a space documentary every night, so it’s not surprising some of that element sneaks into his songwriting,” McBride laughed.
Musically, the new CD is more upbeat and dance influenced.
“We’re very much influenced by what we‘re listening to at the times. And we love playing live and playing music you can dance to so that is definitely fuels what we play,” she said, adding they recorded the CD with producer Howard Redekopp who has worked with Mother Mother and Tegan and Sara.
“We had 20 songs to pull from. And we definitely had more contribution for everyone. Everyone had to pass a song before we’d use it. Howard was great. He’d come up with a lyric or a hook that we hadn’t even thought of,” she enthused.
They started working on the CD back in November 2016 and putting the final touches on it in fall 2017.
“Our guitarist Ty shot the cover photo while we were driving through Ontario. We wanted a picture of an archipelago and that was the last ones. He shot it through the window of the van. He asked if we should stop and we said no, we didn’t even think we’d use it. But it turned out great and he did some editing on it,” she continued.
The last track on the CD “Houseboat,” wasn’t inspired by McBride’s home town of Kenora, Ontario which has a lot of houseboats on the l lake of the woods.
“We were actually playing in the Northwest territories in the middle of the winter and got invited to an afterparty on a house boat. We had to carry sticks walking over the ice just in case it broke, and you could use the stick to stop from going under. Tim and Ty started fiddling with their instruments and we recorded it. You can even hear the conversations at the party. We though it might make a great intro to the album, but instead it worked as a great outro,” she said.
The band started playing together in Fernie in 2009.
“But we really started taking it seriously in 2012,” she said, adding the band members still hold down day jobs
“We can actually make a living just by playing music , but that’s only if we tour nonstop. But personal relationships fall apart if we do that. Luckily we have day jobs that are really understanding when we tour,” she said, noting they will be touring to Ottawa and back to Victoria, then going to Europe for a few months before coming back in time for festival season.
“We’re very excited to come back to Lethbridge. We have a lot of friends there,” she said, adding they plan on playing as much of the new album as they can.
“We’ll see how much time we have. We’ve been really rehearsing a lot . And we’ll be playing a lot of older songs because there some of them, like “I Hate Work,” which we can’t get away with not playing. So we’re pretty stoked to get back to Lethbridge.
Shred Kelly are playing a special ticketed show at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 9 p.m.
Tickets are $20.
James Barker band at Average Joe’s
I don’t listen to a lot of modern country music, so was not as familiar with them as the sold out crowd art Average Joe’s on a blizzardy, cold wintery, Feb. 3.
I unfortunately missed opening acts JoJo Mason and Meghan Patrick, but arrived about midway through a hot set by the gleeful James Barker band, who were digging into a cover of country classic “Hey Good Looking,” which should have been dedicated to all of the beautiful ladies singing along right at front of the stage.
Frontman James barker exchanged his Stratocaster for his rhythm guitarists’s acoustic for a spirited version of Corb Lund’s “Truck Got Stuck” which hit the enthusiastic crowd]s resonant frequency, as he explained event hough he lives in Welland , ontario, he was a huge fan of Lethbridge’s own Corb Lund.
He followed it up with a cover of John Michael Montgomery’s “Sold (Grundy County Auction),” and brought up a single young man onto the stage with the band to be “auctioned off” to the young ladies in the crowd, but cracked up and couldn’t go through with it. He returned the acoustic “before I can do any more damage with it,” and continued on with the hits.
Though they slowed down and sat on stools for some slower tunes.
“Living the Dream” had everybody singing along with the chorus of “I Drink Beer, I Smoke Pot, I Throw Punches in the Parking Lot” and showed their hip hop/pop side on “Chills.”
He also tried out a few new songs on the receptive crowd.
They were called back for an encore around 11 p.m.
Randal Arsenault/Dr. Zoo at the Owl
I didn’t want to miss Dr. Zoo’s Randal Arsenault, so I left the James Barker’s Band party at Average joes a little early to catch Arsenault at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Feb. 3, just in time to miss his new rock and roll side, but just in time to catch a set of Dr. Zoo World/reggae and Celtic music.
As always they were a lot of fun, but din’t have nearly as many people as they deserved.
They heated up a miserable Saturday night with warm vibes and plenty of African-influenced energy, which Arsenault absorbed through his 20 years spent of working in Africa. He attempted to get the audience to help him sing along in Zulu throughout “Welcome To Africa,” which incorporated a few bars of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” which did have the audience singing.
Megan Brown added spooky fiddle and her usual haunting vocal harmonies. Arsenault played bass through the last part of the set and exchanged his acoustic guitar for electric guitar for a song.
A highlight was his version of Paul simon’s “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.”
They showed more of a their rockabilly and rock and roll sound on “ In the Doghouse Again.”
They wound things down with a laid back, world music style version of “Johnny B Goode.”
I always look forward to a Dave McCann show, but missed his first set at the Slice, Feb.2. The Lethbridge roots/alt country musician had a new rhythm section of bassist Shawn Worden and drummer Kyle Harmon joining McCann and lead guitarist Dave Bauer playing pure and tasteful leads.
They opened with “Beautiful Road” from their last album and an older highlight “ Road To Cain.” plus “Dixiebluebird.”
But they also played some new songs. “Slow Train” was a highlight.
McCann strummed his acoustic guitar and let Bauer handle the catchy hooks of his numerous catchy earworms. He switched to electric guitar for a couple of songs and a couple of new songs “Can’t Have it All” which had a Bo Diddley feel and “When The Crows Come to Carry Me Home” which I love every time I hear him play it.
Slice — Windy City Opry Rugged Young Thing and the Doggone Brothers $10 8 p.m.
Slice — open mic
Kingsman Ale House — Cal Toth 8 p.m.
Honker’s Pub — open mic
Slice — Major Love/Coleen Brown with the Utilities
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Wint
Casino Lethbridge — Eric Braun Band
Moose Hall — LEMF Bridge Bash 2.0 Bigger and bassier
Geomatic Attic — Whitney Rose 8 p.m. $32.50, $35.50
Club Didi — Show tunes Sing along 9 p.m. $10 Show Tunes Sing A Long. 9 p.m. No Cover. Broadway song or love songs. You choose! This fun night of singing a long to your favourite tunes is a great way to spend an evening. Sing from the crowd, or take the stage and lead the group in song if you choose.
Honker’s Pub — afternoon open mic
Slice — Mostly Wanted with Every Ounce
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Evan Freeman, Vagrant Souls, Birch barks,
Casino Lethbridge — Eric Braun band
Club Didi — Panti Rave Boiler Room edition Feb. 18
Average Joe’s — Mike Pickle Dambra 8:30 with Adam Blank
Onion— open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge — open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Shred Kelly Archipelago CD release $20 9 p.m.with band of Rascals
Smokehouse — open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Jazz jam withHBO3 and Josh Davies
Average Joe’s — The Irish Descendants $20 advance $25 day of show 7:30 p.m.
Slice — open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Pizza Bath, Abductees Cope