If you want to fight off that St. Patrick’s Day weekend hangover with live music, then come on over to downtown, where there is still a lot happening.
CKXU Fundrive events dominate the week. The University of Lethbridge-based community radio station is planning on reaching their $30,000 FUNDrive goal for a new website.
So in addition to on-air giveaways, there are several big shows downtown.
Catch a diverse cross-section of music at the Slice which hosts CKXU and University of Lethbridge Gutsy Club’s band wars. Local country pop band Alyssa McQuaid and Coyote Junction, GreenBones, Orangeman, alternative rock duo Cope, Jane Doe, Sydeshow and alternative rock trio Mombod go head to head for big prizes including recording time and much more beginning at 5 p.m. There is a $10 cover to attend.
The other big CKXU Cosmic Frequencies-themed FUNDrive event is the “landing party” at the Slice, Friday, March 23. The event features a variety of local bands put together for the occasion to play space themed music. Performers include Space Band, NASA Camp Dropout, Cartwheel Galaxy, Vandendool and the Quasar Quartet and HD80606. Admission is $10 in advance, $15 at the door.
But there is a lot more going on this week. The Owl Acoustic Lounge features their jazz jam with HBO3 and Josh Davies on Wednesday, March 21.
Thursday, March 22 is the night for laughter. There is a comedy open mic at the Zoo in the University of Lethbridge Student’s union featuring Solly KP. There is no admission to attend.
And Joker’s Gone Wild returns to Casino Lethbridge, March 22 with Todd Ness, Shawn Gramiak and William Hannigan. The comedy begins at 7 p.m. There is a $10 cover.
The Geomatic Attic welcomes Grammy Award-winning bluegrass musician Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands performing at 8 p.m. She is touring in support of her new CD “Blossoms” (Spruce and Maple Music). Tickets range from $37.59 or $40.
The Geomatic Attic has a busy weekend as the next night they welcome Nanton/Vulcan country band Tin and the Toad at 8 p.m. Tickets are $27.50 in advance and $30 at the door.
Elsewhere in the city, Calgary musician Todd Stewart of the Northern Beauties and Brocade plays the Owl Acoustic Lounge with the Dudes’ Danny Vacon. There is no cover for the show. Vacon returns to the Owl with the Dudes for a special ticketed event, Friday, April 13.
Classic rock band the Chevelles play their monthly fundraising gig at Average Joe’s, Friday, March 23 as well. This time they are helping out the Lethbridge American Legion Baseball. Admission is $20 in advance, $25 at the door.
Club Didi features DMTV which has some fun with the TV show “Cops.” The show begins at 9 p.m. There is a $5 cover.
The Bamboo Guppies rock the Casino this weekend, March 23 and 24 at 8 p.m.
Aaron Landry hosts the Friday open mic at Honker’s Pub.
There is a variety of music happening on Saturday, March 24.
Andy Mac host the afternoon open mic at Honker’s Pub beginning at 4 p.m.
The Lethbridge Community Silver Band perform their Folk Songs and Fantasies concert at the College Drive Community Church at 7 p.m. Special guests include Lethbridge Reader’s Theatre and bass trombonist Nick Sullivan. The set includes music from Lord of the Rings, Legend of Zelda and Harry Potter. Admission is $15 for adults.
The U of L singers are also performing Saturday night. They will be performing a variety of styles of music, at the University Theatre, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 regular, $15 seniors and alumni and $12 for students and children.
The Owl features the Arrows North Tour, March 24, with Edmonton songstress Kimberley MacGregor, Calgary’s Curtis Glas and Makiisma aka Lethbridge’s own Megan Brown.
There are also head-banging options this weekend as well as local metal band Tyrants of Chaos tear up the Slice with Despite the Reverence. There is a $10 cover for the show.
Over at the Fish and Game Hut (9 Avenue and 10 Street South), there is a FLIPfest fundraiser with Calgary’s Local Singles, Future Womb a.k.a. ukulele wielding Mikaela Cochrane and Lethbridge band Sun Crying. Admission is $10 The music begins at 9 p.m.
Calgary musician Todd Stewart is known for being part of roots duo the Northern Beauties and roots rock act Brocade, but he returns to Lethbridge March 23 to play the Owl Acoustic Lounge with The Dudes’ Danny Vacon in support of his debut solo EP “Everything You Want.”
“These songs are a little more personal and they didn’t quite fit in with the Northern Beauties,” Stewart said, noting he recorded it almost simultaneously with the new Northern Beauties’ long-awaited new CD, which they plan to release in September.
“It’s been two years sing the Northern Beauties’ first album, so I hope people will respond to it,” he said.
“The new Northern Beauties album is done, it’s in the can, but then we started writing more songs,” he said, adding while waiting for the release, booking tours and planning PR, he decided to work on his own project including playing a few southern Alberta dates including at the Twin Butte Store, March 24, in addition to the Lethbridge show and in Calgary at the Ironwood on March 31.
Stewart’s solo CD features a lot of steel guitar.
“That was a a lot of fun. I felt this style of writing required some pedal steel guitar. It’s something I always wanted to learn how to play, with all of those long sustaining notes. It’s such a beautiful instrument. but I haven’t had the time to learn how to play it yet ,“ he said, adding he got old friend Matt Kelly to play steel guitar on it. He has known Kelly going all the way back to his days with Brocade.
“There’s still not a lot of pedal steel guitar players in Calgary. Back in 2013 Charlie Hase was the guy to go to,” he observed, adding there is more interest in steel guitar.
He noted his family inspired most of the lyrics on the new CD.
“A lot of it is about being a family man. ‘Kerry Anne’ is my wife’s name, so it’s a song about her. ‘Out of My Mind’ is about falling in love,” he said, adding there are also more serious moments on the Cd including a song about his brother in law who passed away.
Danny Vacon will be joining Stewart for the Twin Butte and Lethbridge shows.
“I love playing with Danny. He’s such a free spirit,” he said, adding each of them will be playing their own sets.
“It will just be me and my guitar. Just playing my solo songs. It’s so much fun,” he said.
Admission to the show is by donation.
The Real McKenzies’ annual pre-St. Patrick’s Day party in Lethbridge is something I look forward to every year. I arrived late and missed the Lethbridge Firefighters Pipes and Drums and just missed Edmonton horn-powered punks the Raygun Cowboys.
I usually rate live shows in terms of how many beers I drink during their the set, the better the band, the more beer I drink. The Real McKenzies are usually a four-beer band, this time they were five beers, even if one of them was a light beer.
This year they were a force of nature March 15 at Bully’s Entertainment Centre.
Bagpipes wailed and echoed through the room over a wall of power from three guitarists and a thundering bassist and drummer who shouted out harmonies as frontman Paul McKenzie bestrode the stage bellowing out music from throughout the McKenzies’ 25 plus year career, but mostly from their most recent CD “Two Devils Will Talk.”
The singles “Due West,” “Seafarers” and “One Day” came early on in the set and they went back to their “Westwinds” album for one of my favourites, “I Do What I Want.”
“Scots Wh Ha’e” had most of the 100 or so people there shouting along and sparked a frenetic mosh pit.
They dug deep into their catalogue, though because the room was so echoey, so it was difficult to tell which song was which.
The McKenzies were super tight and played super fast.
Paul McKenzie talked about Scotland and the Loch Ness monster, which segued into “Nessie.”
Another of my favourites “Drink Some More, was midway through the set, which McKenzie introduced by talking about the dangers of Fentanyl and observed his drug of choice was, of course, beer.
McKenzie talked about all of the fantastic musicians who passed on in the past couple of years lead the band in a musical tribute to them.
They ended their show with the sassy “F—k the Real McKenzies,” but were called back for an encore, of course. They showed off just what talented vocalists they are on a gorgeous a capella version of Stan Rogers’ “Barrett’s Privateers.”
They turned things up for the fast-paced punk of a Turbonegro cover and called it a night with one more song just before 11 p.m.
I couldn’t make it to Coaldale for Calgary rockabilly trio Peter and the Wolves on the weekend, but thankfully they returned to the Slice for a late-announced Windy City Opry show at the Slice, Wednesday, March 14. I usually miss most of it due to being on the air, but this time they played an entire second set and outlasted promoter Shaela Miller, whose band opened the show and who had to leave to take care of her kids, and even me.
They always put on a great show for people who like rockabilly and ’50s rock and roll.
Frontman Peter Cormier ended the first set by playing guitar behind his head and duckwalking across the stage for an audience full of swing dancers and people raucously applauding, before ending the set with blues chestnut “St. James Infirmary.”
After a break, many of the audience had trickled away; however, Cormier began the second set by channelling Jerry Lee Lewis on piano.
He played a variety of new music including “Sundae Monday Blues” from a new CD due out April 21 as well as rock and roll classics from the likes of Ray Charles and, of course, Jerry Lee Lewis.
“Girl Can’t Help It” and “Jailbird Josephine” were highlights as was “Veronica.”
Shaela Miller joined them on stage for “Jackson” and another song.
Calgary indie rock band The Ashley Hundred are always an entertaining act to see, so it was great to see them back at the Slice, Saturday, March 10.
They played appealing ambient indie rock with banjo and keyboards adding extra layers of sound. I only caught the very end of their set of appealing ambient indie rock full of delay and chorus laden guitars and ghostly vocals. Though the added a few interesting harmonized guitar
They had approximately 50-60 people listening.
Fellow Calgarians Crooked Spies almost stole the show. They played straight-ahead rock and roll with big riffs, an even bigger beat and vocals reminiscent of Bachman Turner OVerDrive with a touch of ”90s alternative rock. So they sounded like a mix of BTO meeting Spacehog.
There was a good-sized audience out for local alternative rock band J Blissette’s CD release party at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, March 10.
I arrived at the end of an energetic set from S—t Prophet. They sounded like a mix of alternative rock and jazz music as the lead singer screamed her head off over a backing band of noisy keyboards and a tight rhythm section playing experimental almost jazzy bass and drums.
J Blissette, with Matthew Rederburg back on drums, joining Cory Fischer on guitar, bassist Arnaud Sparks and frontman Jackson Tiefenbach began their set with short bursts of punk-fuelled energy before settling into a slightly more sedate experimental garage rock groove.
Winnipeg country musician Sean Burns returned to the Slice in fine form with hot band in hand, Friday, March 9 in support of his new aptly named CD “Lost Country: Music For Taverns, Bars and Honky Tonks.”
But up first, Brooks-born, Calgary-based bluegrass/roots trio the Wine Soaked Preachers tore things up country style with plenty of hot picking from frontman Jay B, upright bassist Miles C and drummer Mark A, all dressed in bright red cowboy shirts.
They played an assortment of original music and country classics like Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere.” All three sang superb vocal harmonies together.
They played a couple brand new songs including “Green River,” which was definitely not the CCR song of the same name.
Burns and his band including Corb Lund guitarist Grant Siemens, bassist Bern Thiessen, drummer Joanna Miller and Lethbridge Ryan “Skinny” Dyck on steel guitar played a spirited set of twangy country music focusing on songs from the new album.
Burns sounded like Ron Tabak of Prism singing ’70s-style country music.
One of many highlights was “Don’t Let the Highway Get You Lost.”
In addition to originals, they also played credible covers of country classics like “Swinging Doors.”
Okanagan folk band Tiger Moon were having a blast at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, March 9. I arrived in the middle of a hot set powered by the massive voice and substantial mandolin chops of Kasey Graff, alternating vocals with guitarist Dan Tait. They were backed by a bassist Joshua Smith and drummer Dylan Logan Ranney to provide a big sound.
They played several originals and a solid tribute to the Tragically Hip of “Bobacageon” as Tait observed he “was gutted” by the news of Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downey.
They also added a solid version of John Prine’s “In Spite of Ourselves.”
They played a fine set of upbeat roots and country music with that excellent mandolin playing which would be an ideal fit for the South Country Fair.
“So if you know anyone from South Country Fair, please let them know about us,” Tait said.
They finished their set with a cover of the Waterboys “Fisherman’s blues.”
The Slice — Gutsy Club/ CKXU Fundrive Battle of the bands $10
Owl Acoustic Lounge — jazz jam with HBO3 and Josh Davies 7:30 p.m.
Casino Lethbridge — Jokers Gone Wild with Todd Ness, Shawn Gramiak, William Hannigan
Slice— open mic
U of L Zoo — Stand up comedy open mic 8 p.n.
Geomatic Attic — Laurie Lewis and the right Hands 8 p.m., $37.50, $40
Average Joe’s — Chevelles for Lethbridge American legion Baseball $20
Slice — CKXU FUNdrive landing party with Space Music Cover night
Casino Lethbridge— bamboo Guppies
Owl Acoustic Lounge— Todd Stewart with Danny Vacon
Honker’s Pub — open mic with Aaron Landry
Club Didi — DMTV 9 p.m. $5
Geomatic Attic — Tin and the Toad 8 p.m. $27.50, $30
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Metric Jazztet 3 p.m. Owl Acoustic lounge— Arrows North tour with Kimberley MacGregor, Curtis Glas and Megan Brown
Fish and Game Hut — Local Singles, Future Womb, Sun Crying $10
Casino Lethbridge — Bamboo Guppies
Slice — Tyrants of Chaos with Despite the Reverence $10 8 p.m.
Honker’s Pub — afternoon open mic with Andy MacNamara
University Theatre — U of L Singers concert 7:30 p.m.
Onion — open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge — open mic
Smokehouse — open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Standup Comedy open mic
University Theatre — U of L Jazz Ensemble 7:30 p.m.
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Geoff Berner and Richard Inman $12
Slice Open mic
Honker’s open mic with Kelly Klimchuk