Another, weekend, another big festival in Henderson Lake Park.
While it was all about Dragon boats last weekend, this weekend is about celebrating Canada day. So there will be plenty of local multi-cultural musicians performing for Canada Day in both Henderson Lake Park as well as Galt Gardens on Sunday, July 1.
Entertainment begins at 11 a.m. with the Lethbridge Community Band, which will be followed by a young rock band Beyond Crimson at noon. Corazon Salvadano performs after them. Also on the bill are local ’90s band Uncovered, belly Dance Fusion,Singer/songwriter Paul Elser, Beautiful Royal Birthdays, local country/roots band Cody Hall Band and the Ecuadorian Social Club.
The opening ceremonies are at 4 p.m followed by Metis Red River Jigging, local band the Statistics, Mi Colombia Dance, Calgary bluesman Eric Braun, Highland Dance, local country band Hurtin’ who have a busy weekend as they are also playing Casino Lethbridge Friday and Saturday. The evening features the Canadian Martial Arts Centre, local funk trio Adequate and Gymfinity Gymnastics and Aerials. Dory and The Weatherman bring Canada Day to a close at 10 p.m. before the fireworks at 11 p.m.
Canada Day activities happen all day long in Galt Gardens as well with a pancake breakfast hosted by the interfaith Food bank running from 9 a.m. to noon for $3 for adults, $2 for kids under 10, Le Baron’s car club hosts a show and shine, Registration for that is $10. There will also be concessions running in the afternoon and attractions. There will also be live entertainment including local blues rock band performing at 11:45.
But things keep hopping well before that, especially for country fans.
Red Deer country trio Boots and the Hoots return to the Owl Acoustic Lounge on Friday, June 29. Also from Red Deer, funk/blues/ rock fusion duo St. Groove play down the street at the Slice, June 29, as well. Red Deer trio Conniferous are also on the bill playing unusual indie rock.
B.C. indie folk country band The Real Ponchos returns to Lethbridge for the first time in several years when they play the Slice, June 30. Local indie rock band the Silkstones return to the Owl Acoustic Lounge, with Max Hopkins, June 30.
Classic rockers won’t want to miss the party on the Patio at Club Lime, June 30 with headliners Honeymoon Suite. The Cody Hall band, Alyssa McQuaid and Coyote Junction and Auld school are also on the bill. Tickets are $29.50.
But get the week started with laughter at The Owl Acoustic Lounge comedy open mic on Wednesday, June 27.
And if you are in the mood for something more experimental, there is a show at The Farm, just outside of town. Victoria’s Psychic pollution, Calgary’s Deep Cover and local acts Clockwork Towns and Vandendool play beginning at 7 p.m.
And Cal Toth’s Dueling pianos returns to Average Joe’s on Friday, June 29.
The June edition of the handmade market happens this week as well at 3401 Parkside Drive, June 30 featuring over 110 handmade artisans. Admission is $3.
A lot has happened since 2015 when the Real Ponchos last played Lethbridge. Drummer Emlyn Scherk moved to Scotland with his wife, singer/guitarist Emile Scott moved to an island off the coast of Vancouver and other band members focused on their careers outside of music.
“Yet we still managed to record two albums,” observed Scott, observing their most recent “To The Dusty World” was released in 2017 and they have another album called “Sunshine” to be released in the fall.
“We recorded that album in my living room. We brought in a lot of people and equipment. With the last one we felt we accomplished we were set out to do with the sound and music to do. On the album, the songs are shorter. It’s not quite as laid back as the last one.
“There aren’t as many jams,” he said.
It was a lot of fun. We didn’t have to worry as much about the sound. Though we still do,” he said.
“This one reflects the feeling of summer,” he said.
He said after their drummer moved to Scotland, they weren’t sure what they were going to do.
“We weren’t sure if we were going to carry on when it became apparent that he was going to be stuck in Scotland. We had a short list of drummers, but we wanted one who could commit because the drummers there are in five or six bands. We met Adrian St. Louis at a party in Vancouver. He was in a band called Miami Device, so he wasn’t on the list. But then the band dissolved and it was like a beautiful moment. We needed a drummer. He’s been playing with us for a couple of years now,” he said, noting Scherk is on the “To The Dusty World.”
He will be joining the core of bassist Michael Wagler and Ben Arsenault, the other singer/ guitarist with Scott, who sings and plays piano as well.
“We’ll probably focus on “To the Dusty World’ and newer material. And we’ve been asked to play a couple of weddings this summer and they asked us specifically for songs off the the older albums, so we’ve been relearning them. So that’s been fun road testing them again and trying them out,” he said.
“It’s nice to have four albums out to draw from,” he continued.
“We’re playing a few shows including at The Slice, where we’ve never been before. It’s nice to play new places. We’re also playing the weddings and playing Edmonton which is where Adrian is from. Other than that, we’re not playing any festivals this summer. We‘re laying low this summer until the album release,” he said.
BA Johnston, Tuesday, Owl
I’ve seen quirky Hamilton funnyman and performer BA Johnston so many times, I can pretty much predict his set, jokes and performance, but I can always be guaranteed to laugh. Johnston is also the first one to poke fun at himself as he did at the Owl Acoustic Lounge on Tuesday, June 19.
As usual he entered through the appreciative audience waving sparklers, fed people their own drinks, cracked several jokes about Medicine Hat, and pretended to read the Lethbridge off his hand as well as pretended to read some of his lyrics off his other hand. He brandished a baton, slowly stripped off identical sweatshirts and chortled “I’ll bet you didn’t see that coming,” as he slowly stripped down to his bare chest and belly.
He jumped off a chair on the stage, wandered off the stage and rolled around in the floor, laughing it was cleaner than expected, and jumped on the tables to sing, almost strangling himself with his own mic cord in the process, which was tangled among chairs and tables. This time, he grabbed my notebook and pencil and wrote “BA Rules,” in during one of his many forays into the audience and behind the bar.
He jumped between two keyboards, a guitar and a discman, and opened with a newer song on guitar “Drinking in a Bar With Aliens,” then played familiar standards like “Deep Fryer in My Basement” which he had smiling audience members singing along to, “Jesus Lives in Hamilton,” “How many T Bone Steaks Can I Fit in my Pants (Can’t Stop Stealing From Work)” and other chestnuts like “McDonald’s Coupon Day,” “My Roommate is a Couche-tard” and “GST Cheques,” which prompted the audience to sing along with the rousing “Give Me my Treats” chorus. Even though he joked he never wrote new material, he played a couple songs from his most recent CD “Gremlins 3” including the always popular “A Day Off Is A Day Off.”
He ended his set well before midnight by bringing the audience into the ladies washroom for one last encore about a zombie attack.
A couple solid local acts opened for him.
The full band experience of Biloxi Parish,” is always a highlight. They played, loud, boisterous roots rock along the lines of CCR and Neil Young and Crazy Horse. It is always fun to hear a fully developed Biloxi Parish, as Zach Passey and drummer Cole Howg have been playing a lot of duo shows.
They ended their set with “Odessa.”
Open Channels played right before Johnson with another strong set of catchy ’80s style new wave and synth pop music with bassist Tony Zucco and guitarist Jeff King taking turns singing lead vocals.
A decent sized Tuesday night crowd heard a strong, brief set by Sam Lundell. I only caught the end of it, as I went there during a set break at the B.A. Johnston show at the Owl.
Lundell, a drummer, as well as an assortment of guitars, keyboards and a computer played a catchy, upbeat set of plaintive pop music.
Nanaimo based jazz/dance band Boomshack played to an appreciative crowd at The Slice, Saturday, June 16. I was expecting Five Alarm Funk style craziness, but was denied, as the talented group switched instruments in a decidedly laid- back set of appealing jazz-tinged, horn-driven R and B and soul music which wouldn’t have been out of place in the mid- ’70s. Singer/saxophonist Theo Hughes-Ridgway crooned like Harry Connick Jr, and even rapped a little, tapping into his inner pop star while Dave Bamford supplied several different horns, though the other members added extra horns as needed.
They played a tight, though informal set which eventually had people dancing.They had more of a pop and hip hop sound than the crazed funk of Five Alarm Funk. But they had plenty of sultry bass grooves and lots of horns. “It’s a Spell” and “The moose were highlights near the end of the set.
Lethbridge Girls Rock. This we know The Lethbridge Girls Rock Camp has been helping young women learn how to rock for the past five years, with the sixth an.nual Lethbridge Girls Rock Camp happening July 9-14. A fun fundraiser for the camp is their annual band swap show, which I was unable to play at Saturday, June 16 at the Owl Acoustic lounge. But I did catch a couple acts at the early starting event. The idea is local musicians get together, and form a band in a week, work out a set, perhaps work out some originals and play their first show at the end if the week, mirroring the activities of the camp itself. Organizer Sil Campus opened up the show by thumping on her bass and singing several ’90s songs from Sleater Kinney and The Breeders.
The next band, Skipping Rocks came up with a unique idea by playing a set of songs written by Girls Rock campers in the previous years. So they alternated between bass, drums, keyboards and guitar and did a great job of it.
Friday, Cousin harley
Vancouver rockabilly trio Cousin Harley knows how to alternately bring the party and humble any guitar players in the audience. Both happened at the Geomatic Attic Friday, June 15. The red hot rockabilly rockers featuring loquacious upright bassist Keith Picot, the rock solid rhythm of drummer Jesse Cahill and the blazing fingers of frontman Paul Pigat, all of whom were dressed 1950s style.
Pigat can pretty much play any style of music, but as he’s touring in support of his new country fried CD “Blue: Smoke: The Music of Merle Travis,” was in a country kind of mood as he picked a tricked out Telecaster style guitar. So there was plenty of twang, Merle Travis songs and lots of finger bleeding guitar picking.
They began their set with three songs from the new CD including the instrumental “Blue Smoke,” “Deep South” A full throttle rockabilly number brought applause from the almost sold out crowd after one of many of Pigat’s hot solos.
He dove back into the well of Merle Travis for “Fat Gal” which Pigat introduced by saying Travis wrote a lot of songs in the same vein “because he had a type.”
He went back to rockabilly for another fast paced, toe tapping rockabilly numbers, which had the audience cheering and a few dancing in the atrium.
Having warmed up by playing a whole lot of notes, he proceeded to humble the guitarists in the room with greasy, blazing surf tinged instrumental “El Swartho.” Picot joked all the lyrics had been changed to protect the identity of the bad man it was written about. Pigat joked it was about Picot.
They ended the first set with a fast paced rockabilly number and took a well deserved break.
During the break, Geomatic Attic owner Mike Spencer made the draw for two guitars autographed by all of this season’s performers and talked about the Wide Skies music Festival coming up at the end of July featuring Shovels and Rope, Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer, The Weber Brothers band and Little Miss Higgins to name just a few.
Cousin Harley was just warmed up and supplied more of the same, hot , sweaty tock and roll and rockabilly music for the second set.
He played a new instrumental and channeled his inner Brian Setzer then returned to the new CD for “So Round , So Firm, So Fully Packed.”
They slowed down slightly for a tough of jazz music and Pigat crooned a great version of “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
They wound down the set by turning things up again for a solid number with a Bo Diddley beat.
They were called back for an encore, which they began with a few bars of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man,” before sending people on their way with “Happy Trails.”
BC Read, The Slice, Friday
Saskatoon bluesman B.C. Read played The Slice, Friday, June 15 as part of the Lethbridge jazz and Blues Festival. I arrived just in time for a solid, set of soulful blues music which began with a solid rendition of blues classic “I’m Ready.” The band, also including bassist George Tennent, saxophonist/keyboardist Sheldon Corbett and drummer Laurie Currie sounded as tight as they could, as well they should having played together for 30 years. Corbett kept busy, bouncing from piano to soulful saxophone and even accordion, which drew plenty of applause from a respectable sized audience.
Read sang super in a clear tenor voice, blew harp solos and played tasteful guitar solos which also drew smatterings of applause.
“Why Girl” was a highlight as was a beautiful version of “Stormy Monday” He also played a peppy version of Delbert McClinton’s “My Sweet Baby.”
Read switched guitars to a National steel for a brief set of Robert Johnson classics.
The band got to show their chops on a jam on “Rambling All The Time.” He wound things up with another blues classic– “Crosscut Saw.”
Gabriel Thaine, Owl, Friday
Local singer songwriter Gabriel Thaine released his new Cd “Alone In the is World” at the Owl Acoustic lounge, Friday, June 15. Most of the people had left by the time I arrived near the end of the show. I arrived in time to hear Aya adding extra ukulele and then bodhran while Thaine sang his original country and roots music. He whistled a solo during “Curiosity.”
The Owl Acoustic Lounge—open mic
Onion— open mic
Smokehouse— open mic
Owl Acoustic lounge—Stand up Comedy open mic
Beaches— open mic with Devin Gergel
Slice— open mic
Owl Acoustic lounge— books for babies fundraiser
Mocha Cabana— Dale Ketcheson
Owl Acoustic lounge—Boots and the hoots
Slice— St. Groove and Coniferous.
Honker’s Pub— open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge— the Silkstones with Max Hopkins
Slice— the Real Ponchos
Honker’s Pub— afternoon open mic
Henderson lake park— Canada Day
11 a.m. Lethbridge Community band
noon Beyond Crimson
12:40 Corazon Salvadano
1 p.m. Uncovered
1:40 p.m. Belly Dance Fusion
2 p.m. Paul Elser
2:30: Beautiful Royal Birthdays
3 p.m. Cody hall band
3:40 p.m. Ecuadorian Social Club
4 p.m. opening ceremonies
4:30 Metis Red River Jigging
6 p.m. Eric Braun
6:50: highland Dance
7:20 p.m. Hurtin’
8 p.m. Canadian martial arts Centre
8:30 p.m. Adequate
9:30 Gymfinity Gymnastics and aerials
10 p.m. Dory and the Weathermen
11 p,m fireworks
Galt gardens– The action starts 9am at Galt Gardens, with a pancake breakfast hosted by the Interfaith Food Bank alongside a Show & Shine hosted by the Le Baron’s Car Club. Registrations for the Show & Shine will be taken on the day of and are $10. Breakfast will be served until 12pm and will cost $3 for adults and $2 for kids under 10. A concession as well as additional attractions will be open from 1-3pm. All proceeds from this event will be donated to the Interfaith Food Bank. Canada Day 11:45-12:15 Coda
The Owl Acoustic Lounge—open mic
Onion— open mic
Smokehouse— open mic
Slice— open mic