I hate to drop a C bomb so early into December but Christmas is coming.
So with that in mind, Lethbridge is inundated with all manner of Christmas pageants and presentations, including several different versions of “A Christmas Carol.”
The Church Of Latter-day Saints brings a musical version of “A Christmas Carol” to their church across from the hospital at 1912 10 Ave. S. The family-friendly free show begins at 7:30 p.m., running Dec. 5-8.
A little later, the Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society brings back their popular “Shakespeare Meets Dickens” night to Casa, Dec. 14, including a reader’s theatre version of “A Christmas Carol,” plus plenty of Christmas carols, food, drink and plenty of Yuletide fun.
But this week, Fran Rude and company are tackling another Christmas classic — Joe Landry’s radio play version of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” They are presenting it as a live radio play at the Immanuel Lutheran Church, Dec. 6-8, featuring the talents of Tony Deys, Morgan Day, Mark Campbell, Stephen Graham, McKade Hogg, Jordana Kohn and Sheila Matson. The event is a fundraiser for the Lethbridge Sunrise Rotary Club to produce projects in the Lethbridge. “It’s A Wonderful Life” runs at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6 and 7 and at 2 p.m. on Dec. 8. Tickets are $20 from the Enmax Ticket Centre.
Thankfully Christmas isn’t all there is this week. There is live music every Friday and Saturday night at the newly refurbished Watertower Grill.
Local musician Nick Bohl is starting a regular Sunday night singer-songwriter showcase at the 1010 Pub, which opened Dec. 2 with Bohl and Tyson Ray Borsboom performing. Email Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org to submit an example of your work to get involved. He is looking for people with an hour’s worth of material to showcase. It begins at 8 p.m.
It’s the beginning of the month, which means HBO3 hosts a jazz jam on Wednesday, Dec. 5 as they usually do on the first and third Wednesdays of the month.
It’s great to have Taylor Ackerman back in town and playing often with his new band Global Acid Reset. He hosts the Slice’s open mic this Thursday, Dec. 6.
It will be a lot of fun on the weekend.
We got a preview of Vernon-based songwriter Eryn Kleyth’s talents a couple of times in the past month at the Owl Acoustic Lounge. But she brings her indie rock band She Hangs Brightly to the Slice on Friday, Dec. 7 with local progressive rock band the New Weather Machine. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Sarah Christensen will have her art on display as well.
Down the street the Owl features an eclectic show with experimental local rock band Ghost Woman and rapper Pyke. Admission is by donation.
Saturday, Dec. 8 features a pretty cool contrast of shows. But first (there’s that C bomb again), take care of Christmas shopping by supporting local artisans at the Handmade Market at Exhibition Park from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. featuring the works of 170 artists from southern Alberta and B.C. Admission is $4. Children 14 and under get in for free. After that, stop by the Galt museum for the Hawk and Harvest Holiday Market from 6-8 p.m. Admission is $3 with kids 12 and under getting in for free. There will even be live music.
There is a variety of live music happening that night. Global Drums perform everything from samba, steel band, Brazilian, Taiko, African, Chinese and Chamber percussion music at the University of Lethbridge Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 regular, $15 seniors and alumni and $12 for students.
If you are in the mood for jazz music, over at Southminster United Church, the always popular Mayor’s Christmas Concert features the works of the Silver and Gold Bands, who will be performing an important fundraiser for the Christmas Hope campaign for Lethbridge food banks, so bring a non-perishable food item to donate along with $15 for the ticket. The concert begins at 7 p.m. The Magrath Elementary School Choir will also be performing.
Later in the night, the Slice features an excellent roots, folk and country show with Peterborough duo the Mayhemingways and local roots band Tin and the Toad.
Down the block the Owl Acoustic Lounge has something completely different as they host a synth pop night with Calgary’s Hello Moth and local musician Vandendool. Admission is a suggested $10 donation.
If that isn’t enough, relax on a Sunday afternoon with a couple of afternoon shows.
The Smokehouse matinee series features the Redliners from 2-4 p.m. And if you like ukulele music, stop by Casa for the December ukulele jam from 2-3 p.m.
The following week doesn’t slow down or get any quieter.
Nineties alternative rockers Three Days Grace visit the Enmax Centre, Tuesday, Dec. 11 with special guests, San Antonio-based alternative rock band Nothing More and Bad Wolves, who are known for their cover of the Cranberries’ song “Zombie.”
Tickets are $64 and $76; the show begins at 7:30 p.m.
The Windy City Opry celebrates their second anniversary on Wednesday, Dec. 12 by bringing back Calgary rockabilly trio Peter and the Wolves. Admission is $10 and, as usual, the show starts at 8 p.m. sharp.
The Church of Latter-day Saints at 1912 10 Ave. S. presents Keith Ferguson and Bruce Greer’s musical “The Christmas Carol,” Dec. 5-8.
“It’s a musical version of the Charles Dickens’ story. It’s pretty close to the book,” said director Chelsey Campbell, who directed a successful version of the production last year for the first time. “I was looking for a version of this to do on YouTube and found this one,” she continued.
“It was written by two ministers, but don’t let that scare you,” she chuckled.
“I just love the story. It’s about how everybody has the capacity to change. It’s good Christmas fun, she enthused.
“But this year we have more men than women. A lot of my boys came back this year. We had more women last year, but a lot of them got married or moved away.” she added.
“It’s unusual because you usually get more women auditioning.”
The cast includes 25 young actors aged 18-30 plus 10 children.
They have been rehearsing the show for three days a week since September.
Campbell credited sound technician Michael Ayotte, music director Katie Jarvis and assistant director/stage manager Maren Cotes for their help in the production.
“I had to be away for a few weeks and my assistant director took over while I was gone. I have had help with some really great people involved,” she said.
She has enjoyed watching everything come together,
“I’ve enjoyed the whole process,” she said.
“It’s been really fun when people have suggestions like adding extra symbolism and they ask if they can try it and the experiment with it and it works.”
“I’ve enjoyed seeing it come to life,” she added.
“A Christmas Carol” runs Dec. 5-8 at the church (1912 10 Ave. S.). Doors open at 7 p.m. with the show beginning at 7:30.
It’s funny how the most recently occurring shows also seem to have been the most memorable.
While Seas’s impressive alternative rock and punk show was a good candidate for best alternative rock show of the year on Nov. 19, Bocephus King returned to the Slice, Nov. 28 for the weirdest and most hypnotic folk show.
He always makes an impression. Apparently he was just here a year ago, but I missed him.
I was glad to have caught him this time. Jamie Perry a.k.a. Bocephus King, his drummer and a female dancer who only made a brief appearance on stage were just finished setting up an array of guitars, sequencers, gadgets and an assortment of drums as I arrived around 10:30 p.m. They had rushed in for the show from the middle of B.C. and made it just in time.
As a bonus, he recruited four local belly dancers, Maddy Young, Shelby Zuback, Kayleigh Nielsen and Pardip Athwal, to seductively shimmy, shake and sway in time to his more entrancing, hypnotic, atmospheric, multi-layered trance-style music. He uttered nonsense syllables for some of these stranger tracks, switching between an acoustic 12-string guitar and electric guitar plus percussion and a hand drum as the mood struck him, while adjusting buttons on machines. On the other side of the stage, his drummer kept time so carefully that it almost sounded pre-recorded. They left plenty of room for the belly dancers to weave their way from the dance floor and onto centre stage.
They were a nice touch they performed symbiotically with the music, which King changed as needed.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the more ambient material, but he performed it well. The highlights of the show for me, were his more roots and blues material from his CD “Willie Dixon, God Damn” including the title track and “Cowboy Neal.”
He played a couple new songs including “You The Most,” which reminded me of The Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun.”
He ended his set around 1 a.m. with a more reggae-influenced jam but was called back for an encore, which was one of his more uptempo bluesy numbers.
The Geomatic Attic wound up the year with an excellent blues show, Sunday, Nov. 25 featuring Winnipeg bluesman Joey Landreth and his trio of drummer Roman Clare and bassist Meg Dolovich.
It was a longer night than I expected. Roman Clarke opened the soldout show on the dimly lit stage with a quick solo set, singing soulful original music of 20 something problems, accompanying himself on keyboards and reminding me a little of Joel Plaskett.
I was pleasantly surprised to see local indie rock band the Utilities on the bill as well. They played their always appealing version of chiming, folky indie rock reminding me of the Jayhawks and the Church, back in the ’80s. They played plenty of catchy, jangly electric guitars and showed off some fine vocal harmonies.
They played several tracks from their most recent CD “Heavy South,” but also introduced brand new music, which drummer Drake McCheyne learned on the weekend as he drove in from Edmonton for the weekend and the show.
Of course, Joey Landreth was the main event. He opened for the Sheepdogs during Whoop-Up Days in the summer, but this set was a lot more subdued.
He sang appealingly soulful vocals, backed by impressive harmonies from his band mates. He played more slower blues, a lot of subtle slide solos on his guitar which reminded me of Sonny Landreth, a little funk and a few songs that reminded me of Kenny Wayne Sheppard.
The appreciative crowd sat enraptured and clapped along in places, while Landreth observed how exhausting his tour had been and told a few heartfelt stories and about laying with his brother in the Bros. Landreth.
I was getting sleepy, so left as Landreth finished a quick mini-set on his own.
Fundraisers can be an exciting opportunities to support a good cause while seeing old friends play and discover brand new acts. All of that was in effect for a packed Slice, Friday, Nov. 23 as local musical and dramatic talent joined forces to help the victims of the Aug. 15 Kerala Floods in India. I was there for the return of local blues rockers Zojo Black including Greg Gomola, returning to Lethbridge from Edmonton, Paul Kype, bassist Tyson Maiko and drummer Brady Valgardson. But I had to wait for them until the end and discovered a lot of new bands with plenty of familiar faces.
I missed a group called Fox Kitt, but I caught a couple of big new orchestras on the bill including a brand new ’50s doo-wop band called Frankie and the Bridge Mix including familiar faces Dil Jopp on upright bass, Erica Hunt and actress Victoria Officinalis, plus Bente Hansen playing keyboards, a full horn section and a lot more.
They played an array of ’50s-style pop, soul and rock and roll like “Rockin’ Robin.”
U of L Digital Audio Arts Student Ajay Jameson was up next with his band performing a set up upbeat, perky and sometimes plaintive contemporary pop music. He was the local connection as his family is originally from Kerala. I’m not a big fan of modern pop music, so ducked out to catch a couple of other shows.
But I got back just in time for Latin Rev, a new multi-cultural and multi-textured Latin-infused band featuring several of the members from Frankie and the Bridge Mix. They brought a taste of the Caribbean to the Slice, and grinned as they salsa danced together and got most of the room on their feet though a capacity crowd had started to dwindle by then. The ones who stayed were entertained as they launched into an original song.
Zojo Black was a treat as always, especially as they haven’t been playing for a while due to Greg Gomola having moved to B.C. and now Edmonton.
They played a comfortably familiar set of original material like “Modern Day Marilyn Monroe,” “Keep it Real” and “Live My Life.” But most of their set was dominated by blues-infused classic rock like their cover of Deep Purple‘s “Hush.”
A highlight was Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic.”
Paul Kype alternated vocals with Greg Gomola, singing a few more country numbers lie “Sing Like Johnny Cash,” and the Rolling Stones’ “Miss You.”
They also added covers of the Violent Femmes’ “Blister In the Sun” and Tom Petty’s “You Don’t know What It’s Like” which featured Kype blowing a harp solo, and a lot more. In addition to sharing vocals, Kype and Gomola also traded off guitar solos, playing the occasional solo in harmony.
I heard the Owl Acoustic Lounge was packed, probably because Biloxi Parish was playing there, Friday, Nov. 23. And it was, but instead, as Biloxi Parish hadn’t started yet, I was pleasantly surprised by Mark Andrew Spencer, a former University of Lethbridge student, now based in Calgary, who seemed excited to be back among a room full of enthusiastic friends and Biloxi Parish fans.
His tight band were a good fit for Biloxi Parish as they also played uptempo folk tinged rock and roll with pop sensibilities which reminded me a of y a young Joel Plaskett.
Beaches — open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Jazz jam with HBO3
Slice — open mic with Taylor Ackerman
The Zoo — Thursty Thursday open mic
The Slice — She Hangs Brightly with the New Weather Machine and Sarah Christensen Art
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Ghost Woman and Pyke
Honker’s Pub — open mic
Galt Museum — Hawk and Harvest holiday market
Lethbridge Exhibition Park — Lethbridge Handmade Market 9 a.m. -4 p.m.
The Slice — Mayhemingways with Tin and the Toad
Honker’s Pub — afternoon open mic
U of L — Global Drums Fall Concert
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Synth-pop Saturday with Hello Moth, Vandendool
Southminster United Church — Mayor’s Christmas Concert with Lethbridge Community Silver and Gold bands, Magrath Elementary School Choir 7 p.m. $15 regular 12 and under free
Smokehouse — Afternoon with Redliners 2-4 p.m.
Casa — ukulele jam
The Owl Acoustic Lounge — open mic
Onion — open mic
Enmax Centre — Three Days Grace with Nothing More and Bad Wolves
Beaches — open mic
Slice — Windy City Opry with peter and the Wolves $10 8 p.m. December 13
Slice — open mic with Casey Hellewell
The Zoo — Thursday Thursdays Open mic
Enmax Centre — Letterkenny Live $91.50, $64, $48.50 8 p.m.
Slice — CKXU Holiday Extravaganza with Rainbow patrol Vandendool MomBod, Mosrite holiday,A Very Terrific Christmas, $10 advance from Street Legal , $15 at door
Honker’s Pub — open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge — TJ Waltho with Brad Brouwer and B Paul Holden Charlie Brown Christmas With Mosrite Holiday
Honker’s Pub — afternoon open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge — LGRC Family jam and Matinee 2 p.m. 9 p.m. Cody hall band Casino Lethbridge
Southminster United Church 3 p.m. — Lethbridge Symphony Lizzy Hoyt’s Celtic Folk Christmas $20-$65
Smokehouse — afternoon show with TBA
Southminster United Church 7:30 p.m. — Lethbridge Symphony Lizzy Hoyt’s Celtic Folk Christmas $20-$65
OwlAcoustic Lounge — open mic
Onion — open mic
Slice— High Level Variety show
Beaches — open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Jazz jam with HBO3 and Josh Davies
Galt Museum — Holiday music with Chris Roedler 2-3 p.m.