It’s a blues, blues world this week with several blues and roots shows happening. The week kicks off on Feb. 20 with the jazz jam at HBO3 at the Owl Acoustic Lounge.
If the Derina Harvey Band didn’t give you enough of a Celtic rock fix last week, don’t miss Newfoundland’s the Irish Descendants’ return to Average Joe’s, Feb. 21. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. The show begins at 7:30 p.m.
But there are also several alternative rock shows at the old Firehall. There will be a loud experimental rock and keyboard pop show at the Old Firehall Feb. 21 with local electronic noise pop duo Touching God, Calgary electronic experimental techno artist Trigger Warning and local garage rock duo Cope. The show begins at 8 p.m. There is a $10 cover.
The next night, Feb. 22, is all about metal with Red Deer hard rock band Dusty Tucker, Medicine Hat metalcore band For A Life Unburdened, Calgary metal core band Lacuna and Taber hard rock/metal band Eons of Earth. Admission is $10 for the show which begins are 8 p.m.
St. John-born, Vancouver-based rock band Chase the Bear and local band the Decadent Phase play the Slice, Feb. 22.
The Owl features a special show, Feb. 22 — the return of Bands as Bands begins at 8:15 p.m. with Black Roses for Breakfast as Billie Eilish, Mercury as Metallica, Chief Mountain as the Ramones, Mombod as the Runaways and The Rainbow Patrol being KISS.
And Pretty, Witty and Gay kicks off with a new play reading at Club Didi as Calgary playwright Ryan Diller makes the first public reading of “Public Arts Ohio,” at 9 p.m. There is $10 cover. Over at Casino Lethbridge, Fast Times will be rocking the pop on Friday and Saturday.
Saturday, Feb. 23 is all about the blues.
Calgary’s Erin Ross returns to the Slice with George Arsene playing an opening set and previewing the upcoming new Rancho Deluxe album.
The Owl Acoustic Lounge is competing with the blues and roots show with the always popular Papa King and The Boogiemen. King will be joined by bassist Doug Freeman and keyboardist TJ Waltho. Admission is by donation.
And the Lethbridge Folk Club welcomes back Bill Bourne, who will be playing the Lethbridge College Cave, Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. sharp with openers Reid Seibert and Bruce MacKay. Bourne can play everything from Celtic music to blues and folk.
He was last in Lethbridge at the GeomaticAttic with Tri Continental, last March, was half of Celtic duo Bourne and MacLeod, Celtic band The Tannahill Weavers and was even a member of the Real McKenzies in their early days. Tickets are $25 members, $20 for invited guests which, as always includes an annual membership for Folk Club events.
The biggest blues show of the week is Tuesday, Feb. 26 at the Slice when Harpdog Brown and his trio come to town. The music begins at 8 p.m.
Over at the Ten Ten Pub, the singer-songwriter series returns with Cody Hall and Amy Allred performing beginning at 8 p.m.
The Enmax Centre has a lot of things happening this week. The International peace powwow is Saturday, Feb. 23 and Sunday, Feb. 24 with two full days of powwow dancing and music competition plus Miss Blackfoot Canada. Admission is $17 general, $7 children and $15 for post-secondary students and seniors.
There is a big country pop show at the Enmax on Tuesday, Feb. 26 with Little Big Town plus Midland and Ashley McBryde. Tickets are $45.90, $65.90, $85.90 and $100.90. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m.
Two plays are coming up. Playgoers of Lethbridge break in the newly renovated Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Feb. 20-23, with the hilarious comedy “Where’s Oscar,” running at 7:30 p.m. each night.
Right after that ends, Theatre Outré presents Calgary-based playwright/actor Brett Dahl’s drama “Like Orpheus.” The Jay Whitehead production runs at Club Didi Feb. 25-March 1.
Harpdog Brown loves where he’s at. He may not make a lot of money making music, but the Edmonton-born, Vancouver-based bluesman is just happy has been able to make a living by making music for over 20 years. He brings his trio to the Slice Tuesday, Feb. 26 in support of a new CD, “For Love & Money,” which will be officially released on April 26.
“I’ve had a lot of bosses all over Canada for the past 39 years. And if I don’t I like them I don’t have to go back,” said Harpdog Brown, who has taken home his share of awards including three consecutive Maple Blues Awards for Harmonica Player of the Year (2014, 2015, 2016), the Fraser Valley Music Award, has three consecutive Western Canadian Music Awards Nominations, a Juno Nomination and is the only Canadian to win the coveted Muddy Award. In 2016, he was nominated for three Maple Blues Awards (Harmonica Player, Male Vocalist and Album of the Year) for his latest release Travelin’ With The Blues. Travelin’ With The Blues released in 2016 is listed as #9 on the Roots Music Report Top Classic Blues Albums of 2017.
“I’m not saying there hasn’t been some drama, but it has been a lot of fun,” he continued, adding he plays with a full band, solo, or with his trio who will be coming with him, including keyboardist Dave Webb and clarinet/saxophone player Billy Joe Abbott.
“We have a lot of fun playing together. He’s a fantastic tenor sax player. It’s really exciting. Together we sound bigger than life,” Brown continued.
“This group is the most fun I’ve ever had playing with anyone,” he said.
The Lethbridge show is at the beginning of a 10-day-long tour taking Brown all over Alberta, north to Whitecourt and Stony Plain, then down to Lethbridge and through Saskatchewan to Regina, then Saskatoon where he will be playing the Saskatoon Blues Festival and back home.
“We played the Slice back in 2015. Jesse was really supportive of touring musicians and so is Derek,” he said.
He is excited to release the new album in April, having already released a couple of preview tracks from it — “A New Day is Dawning” and “Reefer Loving Woman.”
“I love the new album. It sounds fabulous,” he said.
“I love early ’50s blues and jazz music,” he said, adding there is a lot of that brass heavy sound on the new record.
“I love that vintage New Orleans sound,” he added, noting his band captures that brass heavy sound perfectly.
Harpdog Brown plays the Slice, Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 8 p.m.
Windy City Opry at the Slice
Petunia and Nathan Godfrey returned to the Slice Wednesday, Feb. 13 for the Windy City Opry, which was hosted by Steve Foord. As usual I arrived near the end of the early starting show and found a good-sized, appreciative Wednesday night crowd.
Petunia usually uses the duo shows to introduce new music. And he did, though it was all in the same difficult-to-describe vein of folk and vintage acoustic blues.
There were also a couple longer, poetic numbers which were almost poetic including one about the dark, seedy side of Vancouver that seemed to be about missing women called “Irma.”
Of course in between strumming acoustic guitar, Petunia fit in a little yodelling. And as the crowd was crying for more, Petunia stepped aside to let Nathan Godfrey take centre stage to pick pretty blues and jazz licks on an old National steel guitar.
Petunia showed he could sing smooth jazz as well as in his own quirky roots country and even hit impressive falsetto notes.
He was called back for an encore and played his cover of the rockabilly classic “I’m Shaking,” noting The White Stripes, who popularized the song, didn’t write it.
Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra
Victoria based roots collective the Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra received a warm welcome on a chilly night at the Slice, Monday, Feb. 11.
They always draw a good crowd whenever they play here and a lot of people remembered and showed up for two energetic sets for the early show. I arrived three songs into a multi-faceted, diverse second set in the middle of a couple toe-tapping fiddle- and accordion-powered Klezmer and Gypsy-flavoured music with influences including jazz and Mississippi Sheiks string band/blues music.
Mack Shields played upbeat fiddle while singing lead vocals simultaneously. Ian Griffiths added the the more exotic Klezmer/French jazz feel on his accordion while also singing lead.
Guitarist Kurt Loewen added other lead vocals. Even percussionist Paul Wolda sang while having a blast banging on his box drum. Keith Rodger added extra bottom end on bass.
Together they sang multi-part harmonies and had a great time as Loewen urged the audience to sing along with them
Orbit the Fox at the Slice
I cut CKXU Loves You short, Saturday, Feb. 9 because I wanted to hear Bocephus King at the Slice, only to find he had cancelled due to family issues.
Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised to discover Calgary indie rock/funk band Orbit the Fox. I was impressed with lead singer’s Liam Rene Gonzalez big soulful voice and his Mick Jaggeresque moves.
Drummer Dalton Dodginghorse was a blur, locked in with bassist Tyler Simpson to provide a mighty toe-tapping groove. In places they sounded like a more funk-infused Violent Femmes. They also busted out a cover of Tom Petty’s “Into the Great Wide Open,” slowed things down for a couple of acoustic songs, then picked up the tempo before ending their expanded show just before 11.
CKXU Loves You at the Owl
CKXU shows they love you with live music, as they did on Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Owl Acoustic Lounge.
The U of L-based community radio station chose the ’80s as a theme for the night, Dayglo Daydreams, which didn’t draw as many people as usual.
But several dressed in their finest leg warmers and neon shirts.
I only caught a few songs from Adequate, who delved into their favourite funky ’80s hits beginning with Rick James’ “Superfreak,” which was one of several Rick James songs they’d play.
Keenan Pezderic belted out the funky classics in his falsetto while playing bass for the first couple of songs, before trading bass for the drummer’s stool with Scott Mezei. Guitarist Josh Thorlakson liberally used his talk box effect and jumped into onto the dance floor mid-solo.
Mezei took over on bass for a funky version of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.”
They even played a cool version of Devo’s “Whip It” before playing more Rick James.
Beaches — open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge — jazz jam with HBO3
Average Joe’s — The Irish Descendants 7:30 p.m. $20 advance, $25 day of show
Good Times — Comedy open mic
Slice — open mic
Firehall — Touching God, Trigger Warning, Cope
Good Times — Roast Battle $10
Firehall — Dusty Tucker, For A Life Unburdened, Lacuna, Eons of Earth 8:30 p.m. $10
Empress Theatre — Red Moon Road 7:30 p.m. $37.50
Slice — Chase the Bear with the Decadent Phase
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Bands as Bands 8 p.m.
Club Didi — New Play Reading
Casino Lethbridge — Fast times
Lethbridge College Cave — Lethbridge Folk Club Bill Bourne
Good Times — Shawn Gramiak $10 6 , 9:30 p.m
Slice — Erin Ross with George Arsene
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Papa King and the Boogiemen
Club Didi — Naked Monologues 9 p.m. $10
Casino Lethbridge — Fast Times
Enmax Centre — International peace powwow
1010 Pub — Singer Songwriter Series with Cody Hall and Amy Allred 8 p.m.
Club Didi — Like orpheus Feb. 25-March 1
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Open mic
Onion — Open mic
Enmax Centre — Little Big Town The Breakers tour with, Midland, Ashley McBryde
The Slice — Harpdog Brown 8 p.m. $15
Beaches — open mic
Good Times — Comedy open mic
Slice — open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge — poetry open mic with Terri Petz
The Zoo — Thursday Thursdays open mic
Enmax Centre — PBR Challenge
Empress Theatre — Dave McCann Westbound til Light CD release with the Mayhemingways
Average Joe’s — Yuk Yuks Comedy with Todd ness
Yates Memorial Centre — An Explosion of world Dance 7 p.m. Adults $31, Children $26
Streatside Eatery — James Oldenburg and Paul holden
Sterndale Bennett Theatre — Pretty Witty and Gay Cabaret
Enmax Centre — PBR Challenge
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Biloxi Parish, Hoverkraft, Bert McClure