Storytelling is the essence of great songwriting. This week’s highlights include some performers who have interesting stories to tell.
Winnipeg musician Dave Quanbury was forced to leave the United States where he had been calling Austin, Texas home for several years, but had to return home. The experience of being separated from his new bride and friends and bands inspired him to write a new album, “Still Life With Canadian,” which he is touring in support of, including a stop at the Slice, April 21.
Vancouver Island musician Kat Kado, got inspired by an interesting part of Canadian history — the story of Cougar Annie, which inspired a constantly expanding one-woman multi-media show — Cougar Annie Tales.
She visits Lethbridge for the first time Sunday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Lethbridge welcomes the Watoto Choir to First Baptist Church, April 20 at 7 p.m. The choir includes orphans and vulnerable children from Uganda who bring worship music from the Watoto Church in Uganda.
Watoto Church formed during the civil war in Kampala, Uganda and placed thousands of orphans in families, empowered vulnerable women, rescued babies and former child soldiers and sent children“s choirs all over the world. Admission to the concert is free, though donations to Watoto will be accepted.
Classical music fans will a want to be at La Cité Des Prairies for the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra Chamber series C featuring Musaeus String quartet performing Dmitri Shostakovich’s Adagio-Allegretto;
Franz Schubert’ String Quartet in E Flat Major and Antonín Dvořák’s String Quintet in G Major.
There are lot of other fun shows happening as well.
All of the snow this winter, might inspire some people to find a beach and start surfing. Failing that, local surf rock band the Atomicos celebrate 4/20, April 20 at the Slice.
If you want to get mellow, Pink Floyd tribute Pink 4reud returns to Average Joe’s, April 21. They begin at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance.
The Owl Acoustic Lounge has some fun shows this week including the jazz jam with HBO3 on Wednesday, April 18.
On the weekend, Calgary indie rock band the Ashley Hundred return with Makiisma and Kevin Giron, April 20.
The Owl Acoustic Lounge welcomes Cat Storm and the Reckless Gents with local rock trio In Cahoots, April 22. In Cahoots also play the Smokehouse’s new Sunday Matinee series, April 23 at 4 p.m.
Keith Woodrow returns to the Mocha Cabana on Friday, April 20.
Local jazz/rock/pop combo Bandemonium return to Casino Lethbridge Friday and Saturday.
Even Sister’s pub has live music this week as Penticton performer Mat Duffus will be playing original material and popular hits beginning at 8 p.m. There is no cover for the show.
The Slice has a show on Tuesday, April 24 with Vancouver singer-songwriter Terence Jack, who is touring in support of his new EP “Never Get Back.”
A little further down the line, The Lethbridge Jazz festival announced their lineup up this week.
The eighth annual Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival is June 8-16 all over the city, but the major events are centred around the Enmax Centre.
The festival begins at The Gate, June 8, with the always popular Young Lions concert featuring plenty of talented young musicians performing beginning at 12:45 p.m.
Jazz at the Park in Galt Gardens, June 9 features an all local lineup beginning at noon With Papa King and the Boogiemen followed by Paul Kype and Texas Flood, Hippodrome, new band the Metrik Jazz Tentet and the Lethbridge Big Band at 4 p.m.
The festival welcomes several new venues including the Stoketown Cafe which hosts a blues brunch on June 10 at noon, with a performer to be announced.
The Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens brings back New York-based, Hiroshima-born guitarist Nobuki Takamen, who was a highlight of last year’s festival. this time he brings a band Tickets, available through http://www.lethbridgejazz.com are $35.
Jazz jams have always been a staple of the festival and jazz music in general. The Owl Acoustic lounge hosts the jazz jam again this year, June 12 at 7:30 p.m.
The Sweet Inspiration Gospel Concert is another popular draw,
Marcus Mosely hosts this year’s concert at Southminster United Church, Wednesday, June 13. Admission is $10.
Johnny Summers and the Calgary Jazz Orchestra return to the festival this year to play the Canadian Western bank lounge, upstairs at the Enmax Centre, where several big shows will be happening due to losing the use of the Yates/ Sterndale Theatre due to renovations. They play everything from Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Bublé to Frank Sinatra. They will also be performing a tribute to Tommy banks, who passed away last year, with Mallory Chipman, Banks’s granddaughter and popular jazz musician in her own right. “That was a coincidence. We’ve been wanting to bring her here for years. She’s very talented and a very nice person,” said board member Adam Eccles, who also plays in the Metrix Jazz Tentet.
“The Calgary Jazz Orchestra asked her to perform the Tommy Banks tribute with them,” he said, adding she performs her own show with her quartet, June 15 in the same place
Tickets for each show are $35.
Eccles is excited to present the Metrik Tentet.
“We’re a new band. We wanted to bring together some of Lethbridge’s best jazz musicians. And we wanted to do something a little different than the Lethbridge Big band is doing. We play things like Miles Davis Birth of the Cool — something that challenges us,” he said.
Due to the challenge of co-ordinating the 10 band members’ schedules, they don’t perform live very often. They play a Saturday afternoon at the Owl Acoustic Lounge about once a month including this week, April 21 at 3 p.m.
Food Truck Frenzy returns to the Enmax Centre parking lot, at 11:30 a.m. June 15. Local musicians HBO3 and the Steve Keenan band will provide the soundtrack for the afternoon. Calling all Superheroes and Princesses is at 3 p.m. during the Frenzy. Children of all ages are encouraged to come dressed as their favourite superhero or princess.
The Slice hosts a big blues night for the festival as award-winning bluesman AC Reed performs at 9:30 p.m. June 15. Tickets are $20. On Saturday the Owl Acoustic Lounge hosts the Allison Au Quartet at 3 p.m. Tickets for that show are $20.
The big event is at the Enmax Centre, June 16, as veteran Juno Award-winning jazz musician Holly Cole takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $51.50 for that concert.
“We were looking for someone big and someone who hasn’t played here before. Holly was at the top of the list. She’s been performing for 25 or 30 years. She’s terrific,” said festival president Don Robb.
Tickets for that show are available at the Enmax Centre. All other tickets are available online.
Though it might not have seemed like it at first, getting banned from the United States may be the best thing that ever happened to Winnipeg musician Dave Quanbury, who returns to the Slice April 21 in support of his new album, “Still Life With Canadian.”
“It’s about me getting banned from the United States for five years,” said Quanbury, who was last in Lethbridge last May.
He was living in Austin with his wife, who was attending university in the Texas capital, when authorities found he didn’t have a green card, which forced him to move back to Winnipeg in 2014 and undergo an existential crisis and a tough period of self-reflection and life assessment.
“I married my wife there, but it’s not enough. I could have applied for a green card, but didn’t. So that was definitely part of it,” noting he got turned away trying to cross the border.
“I had no funds, no stuff, no job or home and had to move in with my sister and I had to couch surf,” he said.
“I couldn’t see my wife. I was playing in several bands down there. I had a life down there. My friends had to send me my stuff and I had to give away a piano I had down there because I didn’t know what else to do with it,” he said, noting that experience inspired him to write songs.
“I wrote more in that first year than I ever had before. I was inspired by that existential crisis and extreme depression. I wrote all the songs on my own and had to turn it in to something I thought people would want to listen to,” he said, adding it also lead to a stylistic change.
“When I was in Austin, I had just released an album of New Orleans-inspired big-band music. When I moved back I started using more drum machines and synthesizers,” he said, adding it is also a far departure from the folk and country music he made with his popular duo with Brandy Zdan in Twilight Hotel.
“I still sing some of the songs I sang with them, but wouldn’t want to try to sing the songs Brandy sings. Nobody wants to hear that,” he chuckled.
But things have worked out for Quanbury. His wife finished university and moved to Canada to be with him and got permanent residence status. He is studying geography in university and he’s released the new album which has more of an indie rock feel.
“I was inspired a lot by the band The War on Drugs but it’s been compared to Bruce Springsteen and Chris Isaak,” he said, adding that he’ll take that compliment.
“I feel like even though it was challenging, I’d like to think I’ve turned everything that happened into something positive. I’m proud of everything that happened,” he said.
He will be touring as a trio.
“There will be three of us. I’m playing guitar, but I also have a drum machine and three sequencers. We’re able to play all of the parts on the album. I also have Jamie Wright playing keyboards and singing and Alasdair Dunlop from Sweet Alibi playing bass and keyboards,” he said, noting the eight show tour includes stops in Alberta, Manitoba and the Greater Toronto area.
“I don’t know why but Alberta has always been good for me,” he said, adding Twilight Hotel played Alberta a lot.
“We played South Country Fair and Nanton, Calgary, Red Deer and Lethbridge,” he recalled.
Once the ban is lifted in 2019, Quanbury plans on returning to the United States.
“My wife’s family are there and I’d never make her live in Canada for the rest of her life. I have a lot of friends there. Even though it’s hard to believe with all the things going on with Trump, a lot of Americans are really nice people and I don’t want what happened with one border guard to stop me from returning,” he said.
Dave Quanbury and his band play the Slice, April 21 at 9 p.m.
Vancouver Island-based musician Katrina Kadoski combines art with music as she recounts the tale of Vancouver Island character and all round touch, resourceful woman Cougar Annie in her one woman show “Cougar Annie Tales.”
She brings Cougar Annie Tales to the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Sunday, April 22 with a multi-media presentation including video, photographs and music, followed by a performance by The Edgedwellers, her duo with Peter Wahl.
“Cougar Annie moved to Canada to avoid marrying a man her father wanted her to marry. She outlived four husbands and six of her children (she had a total of 11 children) and is reputed to have shot 70 cougars, which is why people call her Cougar Annie,” said Kadoski, who performs under the name Kat Kado.
“You have to be pretty resilient person to lead a life like that, so that really inspired me,” she said, adding she found a lot of inspiration in Annie’s story and decided to create a multi-media performance based on her life from 1915-83.
“It’s a one-woman play, but there are other components like visual and audiovisual aspects as images of letters and photos are displayed behind me during the show,” she said, adding moving to Vancouver Island and learning about Cougar Annie inspired her. “I was between jobs and got a job as a caretaker north of Tofino. I actually first learned about her on a first date, so that encouraged me to research her life.”
She spent a lot of time at the Cougar Annie Museum and read Margaret Horsfield’s book “Cougar Annie’s Garden” about Cougar Annie as well as talked to some of the people who knew her.
“What was most impressive was her attitude. She wouldn’t let anything get her down. Her attitude was always ‘Oh well, it could be worse,’” she said.
She performed Cougar Annie Tales at Fringe festivals in Port Alberni and Victoria, which lead to performances all over Western Canada.
It has grown a lot in the process, since she began performing it over the past seven years.
“People have letters and their own stories to share about Cougar Annie. So I’ve incorporated them into the show,” she said.
“It’s been quite a journey.”
“It’s a nice show for an intimate audience,” she said.
The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 is advance, $18 at the door. The show is 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Chicken-like Birds/Denim Daddies at the Slice
I only caught the end of the Windy City Opry, April 11 at the Slice. I completely missed Vancouver folk duo Chicken-like Birds who always entertain when they are in town.
I caught the last few songs of youthful Edmonton band the Denim Daddies. They played ’70s-style country rock along the lines of Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers. So there was plenty of twanging guitars, steel guitar and Shooter Mac’s keyboards along with a few multi-part harmonies.
They played a catchy highlight, which won them a songwriting contest in their home town.
Just because, they also turned Rob Zombie’s 1998 hit “Dragula” in to a pretty spooky country song.
They wound things down with a slower, spooky number which was reminiscent of some of the Sadies ’ more sinister moments. The rhythm guitarist/vocalist Rudigier Metsin noted that was their spaghetti western song.
He was alternating lead vocals with bassist Rick Visser. Drummer Merv Campbell added extra background vocals as did steel guitarist Bo Winchester.
Papa King at the Owl
I always seem to catch Papa King on a set break. But I stuck around an almost full Owl Acoustic Lounge, April 7 for some of his set. He wanted to say hi to everyone in the room who came out on an ugly night to hear him play.
As usual, King’s band included bassist Doug Freeman, lead guitarist Marc Belisle and drummer Brandon McPherson. They opened the second set with a haunting version of blues standard “St. James Infirmary.”
They quickly picked up the tempo counting off 1, 2, 3, 4 on a long jam designed to get everyone dancing, which most of them did. King rumbled out the lyrics in an appealing, gravelly, Dr. John type baritone, and switched acoustic guitars.
Marc Belisle, who I mostly know from alternative rock band DoubleJack, proved to be a solid blues picker as well.
“Sugar Bee” was a highlight as was a slide guitar powered version of blues classic “I’m Ready.”
Miesha and the Spanks at the Slice
I was sad to only catch the last song from Calgary punk/garage rock duo Miesha and the Spanks, April 7 at the Slice. Guitarist Miesha Louie and drummer Sean Hamilton were winding up a hot and sweaty show for approximately 30 people braving a blizzardy, miserable night.
Miesha belted out vocals with her huge voice and thrashed away on her guitar. Hamilton was a blur behind the drums. Together they were a force to be reckoned with. I look forward to their return.
A sold-out One Act Play Festival at Casa, April 6, had a strongly female perspective. So much so that there was only one male actor in a minor role in the whole evening.
In addition to being all female actors, the evening featured all original scripts as well.
The first and longest play, “Helen” by University of Lethbridge student and playwright Megan Couch, explored the Sack of Troy from a female perspective.
The actors all played multiple roles, both male and females utilizing masks and various hand props. They also featured the one male actor, making a jarring entrance at the end as Agamemnon looking for his wife “Helen” who had disfigured herself to avoid being recognized after telling her story and trying to defend herself against a group of angry residents blaming her for the attack. The result was equally moving, disturbing and thought provoking, and ended up winning best script and best play with good reason.
It will be eligible to compete in the provincial competition on Fort McMurray in May.
Playgoers of Lethbridge, who host the annual event, brought their entry next.
Elaine Jagielski penned her the script “Love’s Best By” exploring a group of friends meeting over a glass of wine to discuss their lives and focusing on their friend, Cathy, played by Jocelyn Steinborn, who made the tough decision of telling her friends about dating a younger man, who had once babysat her children. It played like an episode of “The Golden Girls” on stage. There were a lot of heartwarming moments and lots of humour which the audience really appreciated after the heaviness of the first play.Steinborn ended up winning the best actress award for this year.
The festival ended on another sad and disturbing note.
“If There’s One Thing I Know is True” was the one woman show about a young university student negotiating the perils of young adulthood including roommates, depression, frenemies, frats and eventually a date rape.
Madeline Smith, who I barely recognized since I last saw her in last year’s Shakespeare in the Park’s production of “A Comedy of Errors,” did an outstanding job exploring a numerous facets of her character, not to mention learning all of her lines. Though I, like adjudicator Greg McArthur, had a little trouble determining the meaning of voice over dialogue.
Everybody loves Ryland. So it was no surprise that Ryland Moranz and his band including a fiddle player, bassist Tyson Maiko and drummer Kyle Harmon, played to a packed Owl Acoustic Lounge, April 6 and had everyone eating out of the palm of their hands.
Opening act Anthony Thielen had them warmed up with some pretty picking and singing.
Moranz opened his set solo on the banjo for a couple of songs from his solo CD and switched to guitar his fiddle player joined him for the next song and the rest of his band joined him for upbeat, perky and almost overly optimistic sounding folk and roots music.
It was a beautiful as always, especially “Big, Beautiful World” and “Lay me Down.”
Moranz puts such genuine joy into his performances that it is hard not to leave the room with a smile on your face. So I was kind of sad to have left early to catch another gig.
I missed local roots band the Crooked Creek Warblers’ opening set at the Slice, April 6.
The would have been a weird contrast to the noisy ’90s-style alternative rock and punk of Calgary’s Pill Crusher and Rampant Lion.
Calgary punk trio Pill Crusher including Mike Elliott, Tyler Burton and Nick Baldock played layers of loud, dissonance alternative rock and punk with a strong Pixies edge.
They had a familiar, noisy alternative rock sound but also branched out for a touch of more pop tinged punk music.
Vancouver alternative rock trio Rampant Lion were different again. They played more melodic alternative and indie rock.
Galt Gardens — 7th annual LEMF
Owl Acoustic Lounge — jazz jam with HBO3
First Baptist Church — Watoto Children‘s Choir 7 p.m. Slice— Surf rock 4/20 party with Atomicos
Casino Lethbridge — Bandemonium
Club Didi — DMTV 9 p.m. $5
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Ashley Hundred/Makiisma/ Kevin Giron
Mocha Cabana — Keith Woodrow
La Cite Des Prairies — Extras C Chamber Finale Doors: 7 PM – Concert: 7:30 PM
Musaeus string quartet
Catherine McLaughlin, bass
Dmitri Shostakovich Adagio-Allegretto
Franz Schubert String Quartet in E Flat Major
Antonín Dvořák String Quintet in G Majo
Average Joe’s — Pink Freud 8:30 p.m. $10 in advance
Owl acoustic Lounge — Cat Storm and the Reckless Gents with In Cahoots
Club Didi — Panti Rave 10 p.m. with DJ Rabbyt
Slice — Dave Quanbury
Casino Lethbridge — Bandemonium Sisters— Matt Duffus 8p.m. no cover
Smokehouse — Sunday matinee In Cahoots 4-6 p.m.
Southern Alberta Art Gallery — Katrina Kadoski
Onion — open mic
Owl Acoustic lounge—open mic
Smokehouse— open mic
Slice— Terence jack $10 8 p.m.
Owl Acoustic lounge— Stand up Comedy open mic
Slice– Johnny Two Fingers and the Deformities with Supervoid
Owl Acoustic lounge—Chinook High School Recital 6 p.m.Comedy open mic
Average Joes_ 10 Rotarians with A microphone 8 p.m. $20 advance, $25 at door
Owl Acoustic Lounge— FlipFest fundraiser with Shaela Miller, Amy Nelson, Wanda Krein
Average Joes—Who Made Who AC DC Tribute 8:30 p.m. $15 in advance
Slice— My Tin hat and Friends
Casino Lethbridge— Paul Kype and Texas Flood
Casino Lethbridge— Paul Kype and Texas Flood
Legends Pub- Alzheimer’s fundraiser
Owl Acoustic lounge—Winona Forever , Swim and the Utilities
Club Didi— Drunk improv 9 p.m. $10 Impromptu is back and ready to get drunk and amuse you with improve games and sociables.
Slice— Chief mountain and Friends
Southminster United Church— Mozart Requiem from Vox musical Choral Society
Smokehouse— Sunday matinee Two and bro 4-6 p.m.