An extremely busy June takes off this week with several Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival events. The fun begins on Friday with the young Lions Concert at the gate featuring numerous school bands. The big free outdoor festival Jazz in the park is across the street at Galt Gardens at noon, June 9 with an all local line-up including Hippodrome, Papa King, Texas Flood, the Metrik Tentet and Lethbridge Big band.
There is a blues brunch on Sunday featuring Papa King at the Stoketown Café at noon.
Jazz fans get a day off on Monday, but are sure to be at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Tuesday, June 12 with the jazz jam with HBO3 and Josh Davies.
And the Sojourners’ Marcus Mosely hosts this year’s Sweet Inspiration Gospel jazz show at Southminster United Church, June 13. There is a $10 cover for that event.
But there is more than just jazz happening this week.
The Silver Creek band plays Casino Lethbridge on the weekend.
The Slice is hopping this week beginning with an early starting rock show June 5 featuring Winnipeg emo/pop duo Alone I Walk/Tanner Cyr and the Rainbow Patrol. Doors open at 7 p.m. There is a $10 cover.
Local bluesman Keith Woodrow plays June 6, and Prince Albert, female indie rock trio The Wolfe hosts the jam on Thursday. They were a top 4 finalist for the CBC Searchlight competition in 2017 and just released their second album, “Strange Words.” The Slice features Megan Brown’s band Makiisma on Friday, June 8 with Riley McKinnon. Calgary pop punk band the Galacticas return to the Slice on June 10 with sessions. There is $10 cover for that show.
Not to be outdone, the Owl Acoustic Lounge also has a busy weekend with Vancouver indie rock/pop band Echo Nebraska performing June 8.
On June 9, the Terrific Kids Artists Collective have an eventful week, featuring post punk. shoegaze band Rhythm of Cruelty with local acts Body Lens and Touching God at the Owl Acoustic Lounge. Terrific Kids also bring a show to a new venue — the Sonder Coffee House (1119 3rd Ave S, Lethbridge, Alberta T1K 1C8), Tuesday, June 12. They feature Vancouver musician Malcolm Jack of the band Sun Wizard and Max Hopkins. The early show starts at 7 p.m. There is a suggested donation of $5.
And don’t forget, it is the beginning of the month and that means it is time for the monthly ukulele jam at Casa from 2-3 p.m. on Sunday, June 10.
There are several open mics as usual. The Owl and the Onion both feature open mics on Mondays as usual, the Smokehouse has their usual open mic on Tuesday and this week, Club Didi features an open mic on Tuesday, June 5. Devin Gergel hosts a new Wednesday night open mic at Beaches and Honker’s has open mics on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons.
Vancouver folk/rock band Echo Nebraska have embraced their more pop side on their sophomore CD “Hold Up to the Fire.”
They visit the Owl Acoustic Lounge, June 8. as part of a two-week tour of Alberta and B.C.
“Though I flew in to Regina to do a solo show,” said frontman Devon Christoudoulou, back with his bandmates Carly Frey, Mike Lauder, Dan Ponich and Andy Schichternear, just outside of Kamloops.
“We’ve been working on this new record. We recorded it with Jeff Dawson. We’re really excited about it, so we want to play it for people,” he said, adding it marks a change in direction for the band.
“It feels a lot poppier. It’s a lot of fun. Our earlier music was a lot more folkier with a lot of fiddle. But there has always been that pop element to our music. We consider ourselves to be a pop-folk band,” he said.
“We are all really big fans of the Beatles,” he said, adding they like to spread positivity to a wider audience, which stems from heartbreak within the band itself. In September 2016, bassist and founding member Gunn Park passed away after a battle with cancer. Even though this was a difficult time for the band, they focused on channelling this loss in a positive direction.
They are in the middle of a 17-show tour including Lethbridge before returning to Vancouver on June 16. Then they plan to take a little break before embarking on a tour on Eastern Canada starting in Manitoba later in the summer
“We’re very excited to come to Lethbridge,” he said.
Hiroshima-born, New York City-based guitarist Nobuki Takamen returns to play the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden for the Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival, June 10.
“The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden thought it was a great show and wanted to do it again, so they thought about how to make it different. So this time he brings his trio,” said festival organizer Don Robb. Tickets are available through http://www.lethbridgejazz.com for $35.
“I played Lethbridge back in 2010, and always wanted to go back, but never did until last year,” said Takamen, who is excited to return to the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden for this year’s festival, with his trio of drummer Naoki Aikawa and bassist Toshiyuki Tanahashi.
“I met Naoki in 2005 shortly after I moved to New York, and have been playing with both for a while, but we formed the trio in March,” he said, adding they went into the studio to record music together shortly after. “I enjoy playing with the trio. I write music including bass lines and percussion. With the trio, I can focus on soloing,” he said, noting he counts the fingerpicking style of Chet Atkins as being one of many influences on his playing.
“We’ll be playing a lot of new music that we’re releasing on Nov. 27,” he said, noting two of the songs were inspired by and written during his previous visits to Lethbridge.
“One of them is ‘Freddy’s Mood’ and ‘Blues in Alberta.’ I like to play different cities. I’m inspired by the experience,” he said.
He is also inspired by listening to singer/songwriters like Paul Simon and James Taylor, but was drawn to the improvisation of blues music.
“I got into jazz music through the improvisation of blues music. I like to write songs, but I also like to jam and improvise,“ he said.
“I’m excited to get back to Lethbridge, too. I played there in 2010 at the Bluenote which was near the garden, but never got to go to the garden. So I’m excited to play the garden again,” he said.
“It will be a family-friendly show. I’m excited to play in a place where I got inspired.”
Tickets for the concert are $35 or $50 for a meet-and-greet. The concert begins at 7 p.m.
Victoria-based, Eastern European-influenced indie rock and folk band the Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra are excited to return to Lethbridge to play the Windy City Opry, Wednesday, June 13 at the Slice.
“We’re excited Shaela (Miller) asked us to do it because we’ve never done that before,” said frontman Kurt Loewen. from his home in Edmonton.
They are supporting a new EP, “We Make Really Party,” which was released late last year.
“This album goes back to our beginnings, when we were really interested in Eastern European music,” he said.
“There are songs we‘ve been playing live for a while. A lot of them have a gypsy vibe to them and went well together. And a lot of them, like ‘Bella Ciao,’ have really changed so we needed to get them onto wax,“ he continued.
The name of the EP comes from a friend they met while touring in Eastern Europe.
“He always says, ‘We make really party,’ which is what we do,” he continued.
As expected, the fiddle plays a prominent role on the CD.
“Fiddle has always been a lead instrument in the band. There is a lot of fiddle on the CD especially on the fifth song, ‘Big Love,’ which has a beautiful strings section,” he said.
“We live all over Alberta, B.C. and on the coast,” Loewen said from Edmonton, though he is planning on a move to the Kootenays.
Living in different cities doesn’t affect the band that much.
“Sometimes I wish we lived in the same city, but we’ve been doing it so long, we’re used to it, but when we get together, we always have something to talk about and life experiences to share,” he said.
He said their Windy City Opry show will be all about the music.
“We’ll be playing a lot of the new EP and and some older songs. We don’t leave a lot of space for talking between songs. When we do, even that is carefully prepared and rehearsed. We like to jam a little, but the songs are carefully composed, but we still leave room for improvisation and a little jamming and making mistakes,“ he continued.
The Windy City Opry open at 8 p.m., at the Slice, June 13. There is a $10 cover for the show.
Two SOAR festival cabarets were sold-out successes at Casa, May 30 and 31. Each one featured the Dance of Claire Lint, magic and music.
I only caught mentalist Jeff Newman‘s new act “Trickster” at the May 31 cabaret, having to go in between play rehearsals.
The always affable Newman premiered the new show with his usual humour and a lot of crowd participation. He got one audience member to look after a locked box throughout the show, then got other audience members to help with a variety of tricks including remembering a card without showing him, only to have it turn to a blank deck. It was strange as I was looking over the shoulder of one of the volunteers and saw the six of hearts, but was boggled by the deck turning blank after the volunteer tossed it back to him.
He prefaced the next bit by talking about his ability to guess the contents of Christmas presents and about how his parents would just speak in German when they didn’t want him to know what they were talking about.
Another neat trick was hypnotizing another audience member into speaking German, coinciding with German words written on flash cards. He brought it home by having yet another audience member guess which present contained either a plush green dragon, dog or cat. He had the audience member switch the critters and shuffle the boxes she put them into, and then take them out of their boxes and out them into colourful gift bags behind a barrier, which he predicted on a birthday card he opened after the bit. I had to leave before finding out what came of the locked box.
South Country Fair Songwriting Competition at the Slice
As expected, the Slice was packed, even on a Sunday for the finals of the South Country Fair Songwriting Competition, May 27.
Judges Sil Campus, John Wort Hannam and Shaela Miller had the tough job of choosing the best two songs to play on the South Country Fair South stage this year, but finally agreed on Calgarian Tara Warburton, who was the last to play, for her haunting folk number “Raise Up My Spirit.” She took home the $700 first place prize and will be playing the South Stage.
Cathy Hawley, a familiar face in the competition and at the Lethbridge Folk Club who ended the first set, took second place and $300 will also be playing the South stage during the fair.
George Arsene won $205 and third place for “Buckeroo,” his heartfelt tribute to beloved songwriter Frank Dooley, who passed away in 2014.
Organizer Steve Foord brought along his donation bucket from the Owl and the generous crowd donated enough to give $100 each to honourable mentions to Alex Ginella for the bluesy “Desolation Bound,” and Chris Gheran, another familiar face at the competition, who submitted “Sweet Jean,” and who got applause for his whistling solo.
They had some really tough competition. I really enjoyed Taber-born, Calgary-based Tanner James’s lovely, lilting duet called “This Morning, With You, Drinking Coffee,” with ukulele-wielding Alex Cowman, whom he met at a songwriting retreat at the Banff Arts Centre.
Another familiar face, Chris Drew of the Crooked Creek Warblers, also had a strong showing with “Hard Times.” He was backed by bandmate Gabe Thaine and upright bassist Steve Martin, who also backed Megan Brown on her haunting, jazz-tinged “True What They Say.”
Rebecca Lappa came all the way down from Edmonton to perform a powerful gospel-tinged number “Lay Me Down In Greener Pastures.”
Ian Smith added a touch of blues with “Rambling Rosies Blues.”
Tayler Lang opened the second set with his Michael Bernard Fitzgerald-tinged folk pop song, “You Choose To Love.”
I arrived just at the start of the show in time to hear the Mary Gauthier folk stylings of Nancy Laberg’s “Every Word Counts,” but missed the first act, Kathryn Smith’s “Unpleasant.”
Queen of the Worms at the Slice
I always look forward to the return of Edmonton rock trio Tallest to Shortest, but missed what was a great show, Saturday, May 26 at the Slice.
I also missed Taylor Ackerman’s Global Acid Reset, but look forward to heating them play again.
I was glad to catch a rare performance by Tyler Bird’s Queen of the Worms, including Bird on guitar and vocals, bassist Paul Holden and drummer Clayton Smith.
The band has undergone a slight modification of sound since I last heard them, moving from heavier alternative rock to a more accessible, alt country-tinged rock and roll.
They played a tight set which had most of the good sized crowd dancing within a few songs.
They were called back for an encore of the always popular “P—y on Wheels.”
Slice — Keith Woodrow
Slice — open mic with Superjam theo Wolfe
The Gate — Lethbridge Jazz and blues Festival young lions 12:45-4:30 p.m.
Honker’s Pub — open mic
The Slice — Makiisma with Riley McKinnon
Owl Acoustic lounge — Echo Nebraska
Casino Lethbridge — Silver Creek band variety
Slice— The Galacticas with Sessions $10 9 p.m.
Galt Gardens — Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival open air market Jazz at the park: noon Papa King and the boogiemen; 1 p.m. Paul Kype and Texas Flood; 2 p.m. hippodrome; 3 p.m. Metrik jazz Tentet; 4 p.m. Lethbridge Big band
Owl acoustic Lounge — Terrific kids presents Rhythm of Cruelty, Body lens, Touching God
Honker’s Pub — afternoon open mic
Casino Lethbridge — Silver Creek band variety
Casa — ukulele jam
Stoketown Cafe — Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival Blues Brunch with Papa King Trio noon- 2p.m.
Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens — Nobuki Takaman 7 p.m. $35
Smokehouse — matinee with Rancho Deluxe
The Owl Acoustic Lounge — open mic
Onion — open mic
Smokehouse — open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival jam session 7:30 p.m.
Sonder Coffee bar — Malcolm Jack, Max Hopkins cover $5 7 p.m.
Slice — comedy night
Southminster United Church — Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival Sweet Inspiration Gospel Concert with Marcus Mosley $10, 7:30 p.m.
Slice — Windy City Opry with Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra
Telegraph — Lethbridge Jazz and blues Festival suppertime blues series with Randy Epp and Don Robb
Average Joe’s — Kick Axe with Killer Dwarves 8 p.m. $35
Slice — open mic
Enmax Centre (Canadian Western bank lounge Lethbridge jazz and blues Festival Johnny Summers and the Calgary jazz orchestra $35 7:30 p.m.
Plum — Lethbridge Jazz and blues Festival lunch series with Randy Epp and Andrea Walker
Firestone — Lethbridge Jazz and blues Festival suppertime blues series with James Oldenburg 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Geomatic Attic — Cousin Harley $37.50 $40
Enmax Centre — Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival Jazz and more Food Truck Factory. noon HBO3 with Michael Carter: 3 p.m. Calling all Superheroes and Princesses; 5 p.m. Steve Keenan Band
Enmax Centre (Canadian Western Bank Lounge Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival — Mallory Chipman Quartet 7;30 p.m. $35
The Slice — Lethbridge jazz and blues Festival. BC Read 9:30 p.m. $20
Coulee Brew — Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival suppertime blues series with papa King Trio 5:30-7:30 p.m. Firestone — Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival suppertime blues series with Anna McBryan and Cal Toth 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Mocha Cabana — Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival suppertime blues series with Dale Ketcheson 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Gabriel Thaine CD release
Club Didi — Princess Rules Princess Rules – 8 pm nightly at Casa. Tickets available through Pride. Princess Edward is back and bigger than ever! In Princess Rules, Princess Edward reinvents her pop star persona and goes rogue to produce her new show. But when mysterious floating orbs threaten her career and even her life, she must learn how to listen to her true self before she loses everything. afterparty with DJ Rabbyt
Casino Lethbridge — Adequate
Southern Alberta Ethnic Association — 3rd Annual Global Gala for Lethbridge and District YWCA with Dory and the weathermen
Enmax Centre — Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival Holly Cole
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival Saturday Jazz Break with Allison Au Quartet 3 p.m. $20 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. 9 p.m. Lethbridge Girls Rock Camp Band Swap 9:30 pm. Sweetgrass Youth alliance Fundraiser
Pridefest Streatside Eatery — Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival suppertime blues series with James Oldenburg 5:30-7:30 p.m. Firestone — Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival suppertime blues series with Randy Epp 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Slice — Boom Shock
Casino Lethbridge — Adequate