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Spring’s live music scene getting busy

Posted on May 21, 2018 by Richard Amery

As we move deeper into spring, it is becoming busier and busier for live music.
Steve Hillis will be performing a Garth Brooks Tribute at the Slice, May 16 to begin with.
Things get loud at the Smokehouse with Vancouver theatrical metal band 2 Shadows and fellow Vancouverites This Gun For Hire, May 18. They will be joined by Revanchist, who open the show at 8 p.m. and local metal band Bring Your Own Bodies. Admission is $10 at the door.
If you love roots, rock and country music, Edmonton roots band Wildwood, featuring Tanyss Nixi and The Fuzz Kings’ David Johnston, play the Owl Acoustic Lounge, May 18 as well. Admission is by donation.
The next night, the Owl Acoustic Lounge features an eclectic show with alternative rock band MTBC and more introspective indie rock with Astral Swans and Conversations with Bears. That show begins at 10 p.m. Admission is also by donation.
The Geomatic Attic kicks off a busy week with two shows with Toronto singer-songwriter Royal Wood and special guest, Vancouver duo Fionn. Tickets are $42.50 advance, $45 at the door. Ottawa blues trio MonkeyJunk return to the Geomatic Attic, May 24. Tickets are $37.50 in advance, $40 at the door.
Edmonton-based singer-songwriter Tanyss Nixi is excited to make a long-awaited return to Lethbridge to play the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Friday, May 18, with her new musical project Wildwood.
Nixi has played a variety of music from pop, folk and even punk music, but found connected with traditional country music and outlaw country music. She joined forces with Dave Johnston of Edmonton roots rockers the Fuzz Kings and rockabilly band the Confusionaires.
Wildwood combines elements of all of their influences on their new CD “Laverne.”
After a pleasant chat about what happened to the Slice, Nixi noted she is looking forward to bringing Wildwood to Lethbridge, which can get pretty wild.
“I remember at our CD release party David was playing on a guitar and was soloing standing on an amp and fell into the drums. But he kept playing, because, you know, the show must go on,” Nixi reminisced.
“But I’m not promising anything like that or any shenanigans,” she chuckled, adding he was all right.
She noted while Johnston is drawn to Bruce Springsteen and more alternative country artists like Jason IsBell and the Drive by Truckers, the songs he sings on the CD including “Onward Through Life,” “Half As Rich As You Are Lonely” and “Little Girl,” give the band a more Blue Rodeo feel.
“I don’t think he’d be disappointed by a comparison like that,” she said, adding she is drawn to older, traditional country music, and indeed sings a version of “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” on the CD.
“I’m usually known for playing more folk, solo singer-songwriter material which is very soulful but it’s pretty dirge-like. I love it, but it isn’t exactly foot tapping music,” she said, adding Wildwood allows her to explore her more traditional country orientated side, not to mention her more ‘foot tapping’ side.
They hadn’t expected to take the band anywhere.
“We just started playing together in the garage and started writing songs,” she said, adding they ended up recording the album in the Fall and released it earlier this year. “We recorded the whole thing in five days with Stew Kirkwood at Sound Extractor. He has 12 different projects of all different genres that are all up for Edmonton Music Awards,” she said.
“He was super-professional. And he’s a multi-instrumental. He plays all of them really well,” she enthused.

Calgary musician Matthew Swann is psyched to present a new Astral Swans tour at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Saturday, May 19.
On May 18, He releases “Strange Prison,” the long-awaited follow up to his debut 2015 album “All my Favourite Singers Are Willie Nelson.”
He has released two singles, “Controls” and “What Are You Going to Do With Yourself.”
Swan worked with a couple of different producers for the new CD including longtime collaborator Dan Mangan, who released the first album on his own record label Madic Records, Paul Chirka, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra sound engineer and the Preoccupations’ Scott Munro.
The album also included contributions from fellow Calgary musician Rena Kozak a.k.a. Child Actress and several other guests including electronica artist Tigerwing.
“There’s a lot more production on this record,” Swann said, adding he recorded the last record in his living room with his friend Brad Hawkins of Ghostkeeper.
He has a few Alberta shows including Lethbridge, before he goes on tour in Japan
“It’s always a treat to play Lethbridge and play the Owl. It’s been a while,” he said. “I’ll be playing a lot of the new record and some of the older songs.”
He plays nine shows in Japan beginning May 25 before returning for a show in Vancouver.
“I’ll take any opportunity to pay that I can. A Japanese record company is releasing this record and I like to go play where people are releasing a record,” he said, adding he has never been to Japan before.
“I got approached to play Japan. It’s going to be an experience to go and play a country where I don’t speak the language and am not familiar with the culture. But I’m very excited about the opportunity,” he said.
He will be playing Lethbridge with bandmates including drummer Joe Ramirez keyboardist Sara Beth and guitarist/bassist Dillon Whitfield.
“We’re excited to play,” he said.
Astral Swans, MTBC and Conversations with Bears play the Owl Acoustic Lounge, May 19 at 10 p.m. Admission is by donation
Toronto multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Royal Wood is excited to make a long-awaited return to Lethbridge, when he plays two shows at the Geomatic Attic with his band, May 22 and 23.
“It’s been a while. So when we had a hole in the schedule, I knew where I wanted to play,” said Wood, who is embarking on a touring in support of his new CD “Ever After the Farewell.”
Two monumental events inspired the music — the death of his father from Alzheimer’s and meeting and marrying the love of his life.
“It really is a paradigm shift,” Wood said, noting he wrote the CD pretty much on the spot in a London studio with producer Jamie Scott, who has worked with Rag n’ Bone Man and Ed Sheeran.
“I never planned to do it this way. I’ve recorded CDs on my own and with my band, but I got hold of Jamie and he cleared his schedule and I cleared mine.
“I got up in the morning, and had the basics of a song done by noon and filled it it out by the end of the day. Then we did it again the next day,” he described, adding he played most of the instruments himself, except for the horns and string sections on the catchy new single “California Nights.”
“I played pretty much everything except that,” he said, adding he probably won’t be playing that song in Lethbridge as the stings, horns and back-up singers are an important part of the song.
With so much happening at once, there was no shortage of inspiration.
“I’ve spent most of the year all over the world working with other artists, so I had a lot of time to think of my dad and missing my wife. Some people have therapists and friends, I’ve always had music. So I found the whole experience to be cathartic,” he said.
“It was good to get all of that out of me,” he continued.
He will be bringing his band mates Steve Zsirai, drummer Mark Mariash.
“I’m just very grateful I get to play music. It’s very exciting,” he said.
Royal Wood and Fionn play two shows at the Geomatic Attic, May 22 and 23. The first show is sold out. There are still tickets left for the second for $42.50 advance $45 at door.
White Rock-based twins Alanna and Brianne Finn-Morris a.k.a. Fionn are excited to begin their first tour, which brings them to the Geomatic Attic, May 22 and 23.
They couldn’t ask for a best first tour parter than Royal Wood.
“It’s a nice tour. He heard us on CBC and asked us to tour with him,” said Fionn mandolinist/vocalist Alanna Finn-Morris. Though they are new to touring, they are not new to playing.
“We started busking (on Granville Island) when we were 12 and we’ve played all over Vancouver,“ she said.
They have released three singles including “Skeleton” and “Magazine Face,” to build up buzz for their debut album to be released on 604 Records later this year.
The daughters of Irish immigrants grew up in a very musical family.
“Dad moved here from Ireland and was in an Irish show band called Killarney, but he had stopped playing with them before we were born and our mom is a classically trained pianist who owns a music school,” she said, adding they didn’t push them into pursuing music, though traditional Irish music around their home soaked into their psyches.
“They left it up to us to discover music,” she said.
“We took music lessons, but our teacher taught us how to write songs,” she said, adding they were immediately drawn to folk and country music.
“Country music is more relatable. It is more realistic. The lyrics are about things that really matter,” she continued.
They are pleased to be part of 604 Records, which has a strong pop roster.
“They have a lot of pop music. Carly Rae Jepson and Marianas Trench and Coleman Hell are part of it. There’s a variety,” she said.
“It’s very cool to be part of it. We’ve got to meet some of the artists and they have been so nice to us.”
They are excited to have there first tour ever being with Royal Wood.
“We just get to play a half hour set before him. We’re extremely excited about it,” she said.
Fionn open for Royal Wood for two shows at the Geomatic Attic, May 22 and 23. The first show is sold out. There are still tickets left for the second for $42.50 advance $45 at door

I was looking forward to the return of Boots and the Hoots guitarist Tyler Allen and his band the Red Hot Hayseeds at the Slice for the May edition of the Windy City Opry, May 9, Unfortunately I only caught the last song of what appeared to be a fun set as several of the audience were dancing to their old country and folk stylings with plenty of steel guitar, and thumping upright bass and lots of fiddle playing.
The Red Deer-based quartet ended their show with a Bob Wills cover and were called back for an encore of another Bob Wills tune.
Weaves at the Geomatic Attic
Considering the impression the made at CKXU’s Love and records festival in September, I expected Weaves’ show at the Geomatic attic to be packed, Tuesday, May 8. It was not. Approximately 40 people sat at tables set up at the back of the room and in a couple rows of people seated in front of the dimly lit stage. They had several familiar faces from CKXU in the audience as well as a handful of Geomatic Attic regulars. The Toronto-based quartet Weaves played a solid set of psychedelic pop and indie rock which got weird really fast.
Lead singer Jasmyn Burke’s high, adenoidal voice sounded like mix of Poly Strene, vocalist of ’70s British punk band X Ray Spex and ’90s one hit wonders Aqua, who charted with “Barbie Girl” back in 1997.
The guitarist did his best Jimi Hendrix impersonation, playing his guitar with his teeth.
They alternated between tightly crafted pop to weirder, more experimental almost jazzy jams. A discussion about visiting the country music hall of fame museum in Nashville and seeing E one of Elvis‘s gold painted cars, inspired them to play a few bars of of Shania Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like A Woman,” but cut it short as Burke giggled she didn’t know the words.
The second set was even more experimental.
George Thorogood and the Destroyers
It only took 40 years, but Wilmington, Delaware blues rocker George Thorogood and the Destroyers finally made his Lethbridge debut to a rowdy group of fans at the Enmax Centre, Saturday, May 5.
I haven’t seen him since a big outdoor show in High River, back in 1996 when he was sharing the weekend with Deep Purple and Molly Hatchet, Rik Emmett and other classic rock icons, and was pleasantly surprised to see he doesn’t appear to have aged since then, visually or aurally.
He began an intense set of rock and roll blues music with a good long jam on “Been Shot Down/Ain’t Coming Home” and brought out one of his big guns right after on “Who Do You Love.”
Thorogood was accompanied by his band the Destroyers including bassist Bill Blough, saxophonist Buddy Leach, rhythm guitarist Jim Suhler and drummer Jeff Simon had a wide open stage to race across. A gorilla mask with a Canadian hat on sat at the foot of an white and blue illuminated drum kit. He just released a new semi-acoustic album album “Party of One,” but didn’t play much of that as, this show was all about loud, gritty, intense rock and roll and blues classics, which the band delivered in spades.
He has charted numerous hits and played pretty much all of the. By the fourth song, “Right Time,” somebody had thrown a bra on stage, which a roadie had to scurry across the stage to remove.
“I’m dangerous,” Thorogood declared with a grin as he blasted into another big jam on his hit mash up of John Lee Hooker’s “House Rent Boogie/One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.”
As the crowd started shouting requests during a much-deserved breather, Thorogood observed “It’s taken us 40 years to make it to Lethbridge and we’re going to enjoy every second of it.” For a more surreal moment, a roadie in a white and black luchador mask raced across the stage to bring him his open-tuned white, hollow-body Gibson, prompting him to quip “some people will do anything to get on stage.”
The new guitar allowed him to deliver some dirty slide guitar on big hits like “Bad to the Bone” which featured “B.T.T.B.” in flashing blue lights above the stage which changed to the gigantic initials “G.T.” in yellow lights as the crowd sang along. He followed it up with another crowd favourite, ’90s smash, “Get A Haircut and Get A Real Job.”
He took a quick breather off stage to change to a Lethbridge Hurricanes T-shirt while his rhythm guitarist took a lead spot, and returned, sans, guitar to belt out blues classic “Taildragger.”
He took a solo and segued into “Keep On Rockin Till the Day I Die.”
Thorogood followed it up of his hit version of “Move It On Over,” which had the crowd singing along again before leaving the stage again to change shirts for an encore of “Born to be Bad,” which was a great way to end the show.
Tampa bluesman Damon Fowler and bassist Todd Edmonds and drummer Justin Headley had the tough job of opening the show, but quickly won over the audience with his pleasantly, plaintive tenor voice, reminiscent of Robert Cray and tasteful guitar playing. He played through a quick set of more soulful, R and B tinged original music and, what I think was a cover of “Crossroads”. He brought a out a lap steel guitar for one song mid-set.
The country tinged “Old Fools, Bar Stools and Me,” made an instant connection with the crowd.

May 16
Slice — Garth brooks tribute with Steve Hills
May 17
Slice — open mic
May 18
Smokehouse — 2 Shadows Feed the Obscene Tour
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Wildwood (tanyss Nixxi)
Slice — Casino Lethbridge
Honker’s Pub — open mic
May 19
Twin Butte Store — Kevin Peters
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Astral Swans with MTBC and Conversations with Bears
Slice — Casino Lethbridge
Honker’s Pub — afternoon open mic
Southminster United Church — Southern Winds 7:30 p.m. $15 adults, $10 children and seniors
May 21
Onion — open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge — open mic
May 22
Geomatic Attic — Royal Wood with Fionn 8 p.m. $42.50, $45
Smokehouse — open mic
May 23
Geomatic Attic — Royal Wood with Fionn8 p.m. $42.50, $45
Smokehouse — Gutter Demons with 13toGo, Chernoff and the Hockey Moms doors 7:30 bands 8:30 $10
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Blood Rez Crew album release with Blood Rez Crew Amber AKA Shorty, Chuckbones, Heidi Mason,Olivia Tailfeathers, Fox Eyes, SMG (Killa Cam and Doggystar), UKS, Cat Storm and the Reckless Gents, DJ hooligan $10
May 24
Geomatic Attic — MonkeyJunk $37.50, $40
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Groove Apostles
May 25
Mocha Cabana — Herb Hicks jazz Quartet
Casino Lethbridge — Breanne Urban and Southern Flyer
Slice — Rocuronium with Failed Re-entry
Owl Acoustic Lounge — J Blissette tour kick off with the Archaics 9 pm.
Club Didi — Drunk Improv 9 p.m. $10
May 26
Casino Lethbridge — Breanne Urban and Southern Flyer’
Slice — Tallest to Shortest with Queen of the Worms, Tagar
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Declan O’Donovan with Tyson Borsboom
May 27
Slice — South Country Fair Songwriters competition
Smokehouse — matinee Taylor Ackerman’s Global Acid Reset
May 28
The Owl Acoustic Lounge — Riverjacks with open mic
Onion — open mic
May 29
Smokehouse — open mic
May 30
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Standup Comedy open mic

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