The last couple weeks of May are going to cook with lots of great shows happening.
Hamilton singer-songwriter Royal Wood and his band play two sold-out shows at the Geomatic Attic on May 22 and 23 with Vancouver twins Fionn opening the shows.
The Geomatic Attic really is the place to be this month, as it also brings back Ottawa blues/rock duo MonkeyJunk May 25, who return to Lethbridge fresh off winning their second Juno Award for their most recent CD “Time To Roll.” Tickets are $37.50 in advance and $40 at the door. The show begins at 8 p.m.
On June 15, the Geomatic Attic winds up its season with Vancouver rockabilly trio Cousin Harley, who are touring in support of their new tribute to Merle Travis “Blue Smoke.” Tickets for that show are also $37.50 in advance and $40 at the door. The show begins at 8 p.m.
Then the Geomatic Attic gets ready for the second annual Wide Skies Music Festival, which will be an impressive three days filled with music in Southminster United Church and outside, as well. The first night, Monday, July 30, features Saskatchewan roots/blues band Little Miss Higgins opening for acclaimed South Carolina folk duo Shovels and Rope, who are playing the Calgary Folk Festival on the weekend. Tickets for that show cost $60. The music begins at 8 p.m.
There will be a free outdoor show the next day, July 31, featuring the Weber Brothers, Vancouver blues duo Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer, Shakura S’Aida, Skinny Dyck and the Chicken Catchers and guests. There will be a beer garden, as well as food trucks, vendors, artisans and lots of fun. Skinny Dyck will also be organizing an after-party at the Owl Acoustic Lounge as well as the side stage during the festival including a lot of talent such as Calgary songwriter Tom Phillips.
Frazey Ford, formerly of the Be Good Tanyas, returns to Lethbridge for another ticketed event inside the Southminster United Church, Aug. 1 with Seattle indie rock band the Cave Singers. Tickets for that show are $50 or you can get a festival pass for $90 which includes admission to all of the events.
But that’s not for a few months yet.
There is still a lot going on this week.
The Smokehouse hosts another great punk show May 23 with Montreal psychobilly veterans the Gutter Demons plus local bands Chief Mountain, the Hockey Moms and 13 to Go. Doors open at 7:30 with the bands beginning at 8 p.m. Admission is $10.
For rap fans, local rap collective the Blood Rez Crew have an official CD release party at the Owl Acoustic Lounge May 23 with Amber a.k.a. Shorty, Chuckbones, Heidi Mason, Olivia Tailfeathers, Fox Eyes, SMG (Killa Cam and Doggystar), UKS, Cat Storm and the Reckless Gents and DJ hooligan. Admission is $10.
The Owl is a busy place this week and a place of contrast as it features local jazz/rock/pop band the Groove Apostles on Thursday, May 24.
The Owl features local punk band J Blissettes’s tour kick-off, May 25 with Edmonton alternative rock band the Archaics.
The Owl features Whitehorse songwriter Declan o Donovan May 26 with local signer songwriter Tyson Borsoom.
And, last, but not least, The Owl welcomes back Calgary Celtic punk band the River Jacks to hos ta jam on Monday, May 28.
Speaking of old friends, The Slice welcomes back Edmonton groove rock trio Tallest to Shortest, May 26 with local alternative rock band Queen of the Worms and Taylor Ackerman’s band Global Acid Reset.
The Slice features Rockuronium and Failed Re-entry, two bands made up of local doctors and hospital workers on May 25.
The biggest event at The Slice is the South country Fair Songwriting Competition finals which is on a Sunday, May 27. There will be 13 local songwriters competing for a chance to perform on the South Stage of this year’s South Country Fair plus weekend passes and cash. Songwriters include Chris Gheran (Sweet Jean); Alex Ginella Desolation Bound); Kathryn Smith (Unpleasant); Tanner James (This Morning, with you, drinking coffee); Rebecca Lappa ( Lay Me Down in Greener Pastures); Megan Brown (True What They Say); George Arsene (Buckaroo); Tara Warburton Raise Up My Spirit) Nancy Laberge (Every Word Counts); Taylor Lang (You Choose to Love); Chris Drew (Hard Times) Cathy Hawley (An Old Song) and Ian Smith (Ramblin’ Rosie’s Blues) Doors open at 5 p.m. with the music beginning at 7 p.m. Show up early to get a seat as the event is usually packed.
Over at Average Joe’s, Cal Toth’s dueling pianos returns May 25.
And for more mainstream country and pop, Breanne Urban and Southern Flyer return to Casino Lethbridge May 25 and 26.
Local jazz band Herb Hicks jazz Quartet return to the Mocha Cabana May 25.
If you just want to laugh this week, drunk improv returns to Club Didi May 25 at 9 p.m. Admission to that show is $10.
It is great to have musician Taylor Ackerman back in Lethbridge. He brings his band Global Acid Reset to the Smokehouse on Sunday, May 27 for Skinny Dyck’s matinee series. The show is from 4-6 p.m.
Ottawa based blues/swamp rock trio MonkeyJunk are pleased to celebrate its 10th year, by not only playing some of the band’s favourite rooms including the Geomatic Attic, May 24, but to win its second Juno Award for the album “Time To Roll.”
“I haven’t spent much time at home,” admitted baritone guitarist/vocalist/harmonica player Steve Marriner, waiting for a sound check to start in Dauphin, Manitoba. He was pleasantly surprised to see the new album won the Juno Award.
“I don’t think we expected it. It was a pleasant surprise. It‘s our second one. We also won one in 2012. But this one caps off a great tenth anniversary run,” he said, adding the trio, including drummer Doug Sobb and lead guitarist Tony Diteodoro are visiting some of their favourite places. While the band calls Ottawa home, Marriner has lived in Toronto for the past two years, Diteodoro splits his time between Edmonton, where his girlfriend lives, and Ottawa and Sobb lives in Ottawa full-time.
“We’ve had a lot of soldout shows on this tour. We sold out a hometown show in Ottawa the National Arts Centre, which is a great feeling because 10 years ago , we were playing small clubs in Ottawa for about 60 people,” he said.
“In Winnipeg, we played with Joey Landreth of the Bros. Landreth and Big Dave McLean, who is a big influence of mine and in Hamilton, we played with Steve Strongman,” he said.
The tour has featured some of the biggest crowds they have played for.
In Sault Sté Marie, we played for 200 people, which is more people we have played before,” he said adding they also have some big festivals booked for the summer including the Salmon Arm Blues and Roots Festival, The Harvest Jazz and blues Festival in Fredericton, and the Edmonton Blues Festival.
In addition to touring cross Canada with MonkeyJunk, he also just completed a tour with Colin James which stopped by the Enmax Centre for the Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival.
“I think that was the last time I was in Lethbridge. I recorded a new album with Colin which is coming out in the fall. it will be the same unit as the last one, Blue Highways, so it’s very bluesy. But we won’t be touring again until March,” he said, adding he also enjoyed touring with Steve Dawson, another Juno Award-winning musician, with whom he did a quick United States tour including stops in Dawson’s adopted hometown of Nashville.
“I haven’t been home much. I have a new girlfriend now and haven’t seen her much. But we‘ll take some time off in the summer to hang out,” he said, adding they haven’t thought about writing new music yet.
Along the way, he befriended Lethbridge musician Leeroy Stagger.
“We had a really good time together and became friends. We may be working on a project together, but I can’t say for sure,” he said.
He is excited to return to the Geomatic Attic where he always has good turnouts.
“Mike Spencer booked us for some of our earlier shows and has become a really good friend,” he said.
“It’s a really small room, but we always get people who really want to be there,” he said.
MonkeyJunk, whose sound is defined by lead guitar, baritone guitar and drums, experimented with using electric bass on “Time to Roll,” however Marriner said they haven’t incorporated it into the band.
“We just did it to get a better bottom end and it worked great,” he said.
“I love playing bass. On rare occasions, we’ll hire a bass player, but awhile ago we decided that this would be what our sound would be. We usually let the songs determine what we need. And it has always been really important to be able to reproduce the sound of the records in the live show,” he said.
Tickets for the May 24 MonkeyJunk show are $37.50 in advance and $40 at the door. As usual the show begins at 8 p.m.
Calgary Celtic punks the RiverJacks are excited to kick off a big tour in support of their most recent album “Strange Adventures,” which stops by the Owl Acoustic Lounge Monday, May 28, where they will be the unofficial hosts of their regular Monday open mic.
Bassist Tyler Burton, although he has been with the band for two years still considers himself to be the new guy, but is excited to be part of the band of seasoned Calgary music scene veterans, frontman Spencer Jo, drummer Mikey Blotto, accordion player Mandrill Shannon and guitarist Jordan Barrett.
They considering touring to be a vacation.
“We like to get out at least once a year. This time we‘re going out for two weeks which is a bigger tour,” said Burton from an outdoor festival on the Siksika Nation.
“We all have day jobs. So we do a lot of weekend playing. I’m an electrician, and Spencer Jo works at CJSW, the radio station at the University of Calgary. So we’re all pretty busy,” he said.
“Lethbridge shows always go well. We always love to play the Owl. We have a great relationship with Steve Foord,” he said.
“We all love to play live. Hopefully lots of people will come out,” he said, adding they will likely play most of the new CD “Strange Adventures,” and older favourites.
“We‘re also working on some new material. It’s in the working stages,” he said, adding they are excited about this tour which focuses on Alberta and B.C.
“We’re excited to explore different parts of the country. We‘re getting in the van and driving to Vancouver and Victoria and as far north as Prince George,” he said, adding earlier in the year they drove in the other direction to explore Ontario and Quebec.
“Touring is a fun way to see the country, though we won’t drive the Canadian shield again,” he said.
“I’d love to get to the east coast, though the boys took two weeks to tour there before I joined the band,” he said.
he is excited to play a few other festivals this summer including Frogfest during Canada day celebrations neat Rocky Mountain House, as well as the the East Town Get Down in Forest Lawn in Calgary.
“We applied for Sled Island, but we didn’t get in,” he said.
The RiverJacks play the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Monday, May 28 at 9 p.m.
Casa 5th birthday
It’s hard to believe that downtown arts centre Casa has been here for five years, so they celebrated their anniversary with a party in the square with burgers, cake and local music on a sweltering Saturday afternoon, May 12. Inside Casa, local artist Aaron Hagan’s paintings of the construction of the building were on display. Outside, I missed performances by Taylor Ackerman and Dave McCann, both of whom I was looking forward to seeing, but caught Bryan Bradfield.
Bradfield is a regular fixture of the Lethbridge folk Club open mics and events. This time, dobro in hand, he was all about music history as played a laid-back set of stories and old blues and folk classics. He played a beautiful versions of Chet Atkins’ “Sleepwalk’ and several other songs not usually played on the instrument, but also some old Les Paul instrumentals.
I caught a show by of local country musician Floyd Sillito and his bassist, who I hadn’t seen for a while. The 93-year-old musician has been keeping traditional country music alive for many years.
He delivered a crash course in classic country history. he played a medley of “Santa Fe Trail” and “Navaho Trail,” plus Roy Orbison’s “Blue Bayou” as well as a couple of Don Williams songs.
It was a beautiful day, May 12, almost too beautiful to be in a bar in the afternoon.
But I stopped by the new northside location of the Smokehouse to see what it was like and to catch a few acts performing throughout the day for a Humboldt broncos fundraiser organized by Maggie Hall. This one wasn’t as well attended as usual, but the more metal/hard rock edge to the event was a lot of fun. I missed most of the bands, but caught a few of them.
A slightly tweaked Mark Hall Band with Raz Bruce on drums played an array of classic rock including Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” and Bad Company’s “Can’t Get Enough.”
Local punk band 13 to Go, who were borrowing a new bassist, waited in vain for an audience that never came and I was only able to stay for their first two songs — super tight and extremely loud versions of the Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop” and Blink -182’s “What’s My Age Again.”
I returned later in the night for local metal band Tyrants of Chaos’s ear blisteringly loud set of original epic ’80s style power metal.
Sheldon Arvay stepped in for the gig on guitar as one of their guitarists was in Calgary, but played with them like he had always been with them as he easily traded finger blistering leads and big riffs with Curtiss Vaselenak. As usual, frontman Phil Sirias, with a newly shorn head, wailed and screeched like he was being tortured in a dungeon by Judas Priest’s Rob Halford and Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson.
Mike Spencer combined a new art exhibit by Southern Albertan artist/musician Steve Coffey with the line-up announcement for the second edition of the Wide Skies Music Festival, July 30-Aug. 1 at Jonny Bean’s coffee on the north side, May 12.
Skinny Dyck-backed Carter Felker on guitar for the launch, with Dyck playing sighing pedal steel guitar, enhanced the pastoral mood of Coffey’s train and prairie themed paintings placed all over the building. Felker sang his usual heartfelt songs and played some nimble acoustic guitar licks.
Cope Tape release Owl
I only caught the very end of an early ending show from local alternative rock duo Cope, who were releasing their new cassette at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, May 12 for approximately 30 fans.
I completely missed the opening set from the Supervoid, but Supervoid frontman Jon Vornbrock joined Cope on stage to scream a blues tinged version of an obscure Iggy Pop song “P—-y Walk.”
Geomatic Attic — Royal Wood with Fionn 8 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
Geomatic Attic — MonkeyJunk $37.50, $40
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Groove Apostles
Mocha Cabana — Herb Hicks jazz Quartet
Casino Lethbridge — Breanne Urban and Southern Flyer
Slice — Rockuronium 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
Honker’s Pub — open mic
Average Joe’s — Dueling pianos with Cal Toth
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
Honker’s Pub — afternoon open mic
Slice — South Country Fair Songwriters competition
The 2018 SCF Songwriting Competition Finals are at The Slice Bar & Grill. Doors open at 5:30. Music starts at 7 p.m.
Here are your finalists:
Chris Gheran – Sweet Jean
Alex Ginella – Desolation Bound
Kathryn Smith – Unpleasant
Tanner James – This Morning, with you, drinking coffee
Rebecca Lappa – Lay Me Down in Greener Pastures
Megan Brown – True What They Say
George Arsene – Buckaroo
Tara Warburton – Raise Up My Spirit
Nancy Laberge – Every Word Counts
Taylor Lang – You Choose to Love
Chris Drew – Hard Times
Cathy Hawley – An Old Song
Ian Smith – Ramblin’ Rosie’s Blues Up for grabs:
1st place: $700 + 2 weekend passes to SCF 2018 + Tweener Performance spot on Friday or Saturday night at the fair.
2nd place: 300 + 2 weekend passes to SCF 2018 + Tweener Performance spot on Friday or Saturday night at the fair.
Smokehouse — matinee Taylor Ackerman’s Global Acid Reset
The Owl Acoustic Lounge — Riverjacks with open mic
Onion — open mic
Smokehouse — open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge— Standup Comedy open mic
Casa — SOAR Cabaret 1 with Claire Line, Ben Price magic’s Rabbit Stew , Mercedes Fawns. $10 7 p.m.
Casa — SOAR Cabaret 2 Claire Lint, Jew Newman Mentalism Trickester, W.I.T.S. $10 7 p.m.
Slice — So long and thanks for all the Wax Blueprint farewell show , Street legal Records debut Open Channels, Cope, Sparkle Blood, MomBod, Biloxi Parish $7 in advance, $10 at the door
Honker’s — afternoon open mic