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May 24, 2019 May 24, 2019

Plenty of laughs on tap

Posted on April 3, 2019 by Richard Amery

To quote Alice Cooper, “Schoooooooollllll’s out for summmmmmeeeer. At least it is for university students, who celebrate the end of the semester with live music and DJS. Whistler, B.C., duo Skiitour are on the bill along with Toronto’s Junaiid the DJ, Fernie B.C. singer/songwriter Max Hopkins and Calgary-based indie Rock band Homeless in Hawaii plus Basement 732. You need to have a valid U of L student ID to get in to see the show but admission is free.
But before that don’t miss Aydn Townes, formerly Andy Brown, who brings a new sound and a new world outlook thanks to a brush with death to The Slice on Wednesday, April 3. He’ll be joined by Regina based singer/songwriter Joel Henderson a.k.a. Poor Nameless Boy and Tyson Ray Borsboom.
There are a lot of laughs this week with amateur night at Good Times, Thursday, April 4. And Yuk Yuks Comedy returns to Average Joe’s on Friday, April 5 with Ryan Patterson, Austin Lonneburg and host Randy Webb. The yuks begin at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.
Good Times features two shows this weekend.
Canadian actor, standup comedian and MC Eric Johnson brings his Small Town tour to Good Times, Friday, April 5 with Ainsley McPhail. Monty Scott, performing two shows at 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., is on Saturday, April 6. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door.
Life doesn’t have to be a drag unless you want it to. If so, Lethbridge Pride Fest and Dream Haus presents the fifth annual Diva Cabaret and Drag Spectacular at Casino Lethbridge on April 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. each night. Tickets are $30.
One of my favourite singers, Kimberley MacGregor, returns to the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Friday, April 5 in another songwriters-in-the round featuring Calgary multi-instrumentalist Tyler Allen, East Vancouver gutter folk singer Nasti Weather and the Brain Porter from funk band The Party On High Street. Admission is by donation.
Also on Friday, Amy Arsene presents new artwork with musical accompaniment from Queen of the Worms beginning at 8:30 p.m. The first week of the 49th annual Lethbridge Music and Speech Arts Festival ends with the Musical Theatre Concert at 2:30 p.m. at the Yates Theatre featuring the best musical theatre performances from the past week.
The Owl is hopping on Saturday with a busy day of music beginning at 2:30 p.m. with the Metrik Jazztet performing from 3-5 p.m. After that, Adequate brings the funk and the noise that night. Admission is by donation.
Maggie Hall brings her annual Alzheimer’s Fundraiser to KC’s Pub in Coaldale with several performers participating beginning at 6 pm. including Calgary bluesman Eric Braun, The Mark hall Band and Lawless Murphy. Admission is $10.
It is a good night for fundraisers as Average Joe’s hosts a fundraiser for Extreme Cheer Sensation featuring Old School. Tickets are $15. The music begins at 8 p.m.
The Slice features Calgary-based singer/songwriter S.K. Wellington, formerly lead singer of The Wellington Folk, who went solo late last year.
She will be joined by fellow Calgarian Bella White and Calgary duo Yvette.
And early next week, Keith Woodrow returns to The Slice to his monthly Slice of Blues jam, Tuesday, April 9.
A little later, defunct local band the Bummer Club releases its video with musical performances from Fraser Valley, B.C. indie rock/punk band Blessed and sci-fi electronica-inspired band Cosmo Duff at Theoretically Brewing Company, Wednesday, April 10 beginning at 7:30 p.m. There is a $10 cover.
There are more bells for the 49th annual Music and Lethbridge Speech Arts Festival began April 1 featuring a variety of choirs, musicians and performers performing throughout the city until April 13.
“Next year is our 50th and we have some plans for it, but we we’re looking forward to this one first. We’re excited to be back in the Yates Theatre,” said Lethbridge Music and Speech Arts general manager Natasha Tompkins.
“We have more bell-ringing groups this year with 14. But we have fewer speech arts sections because of the main teachers retired,” she continued.
There are a few other changes this year.
“Our headquarters will be back in the Yates. We have 14 different disciplines and 14 adjudicators.
“And we have over 1,000 people registered this year which is more than we’ve had. Last year we had 977,” Tompkins summarized.
“And we have a pipe organ section. It has been a few years since we’ve had pipe organs (2013),” she said, adding the organ section is April 1 at St. Augustine’s Sanctuary.
The other venues are the Yates, Casa, Southminster United Church and St. Patrick’s Church.
As usual, there are two best of concerts. Saturday, April 6, features the best musical theatre performances. And the Stars of the Festival Concert is April 13. Admission to these concerts are $5. They begin at 2:30 p.m.
“We switched to afternoons last year because our target is students and a 7:30 p.m show is a little too late for them. And it has worked well,” Tompkins said.
“We also have a school ukulele group who are from Coalhurst. They will be performing April. 4 at the Yates Theatre at 1:30 p.m.
There will also be plenty of guitar happening, April 4 as well.
While most of the performers are students, there are several adult groups participating as well.
“Guitar teacher Dale Ketcheson has a group of his students performing. And the Lethbridge Community Silver Band are also performing,” Tompkins said.
In addition to the participants getting an opportunity to be professionally adjudicated, the festival is also giving out $17,000 worth of scholarships.
“There is one student with an original composition this year and there’s a scholarship for that,” she said, adding the adjudicators are very supportive and offer a lot of constructive criticism.
“I vet them very closely,” she said, adding she is excited to welcome David Hoyt as the band adjudicator.
“We’re also excited to welcome Kim Denis as the choral adjudicator. We’ve been trying to get her here for years but we couldn’t get our schedules to work,” she said.
“And we have Gina Oh adjudicating musical theatre. She’s done a lot of theatre,” she said.
With so many events happening, you might need a pick me up, so the festival has arranged for a special blend of coffee available at all venues throughout the festival.
“We’ve negotiated with Cuppers Coffee to provide us Expressions coffee. It will be available throughout the festival,” she said.
“I’m excited to catch as many of the performances as I can. It can be difficult. But now we’re back at the Yates I’ll be able to catch more of them,” Tomkins said.
Sessions take place at all of the venues in the mornings, afternoons and evenings.
Admission to individual sessions is three dollars. Children 12 and under get in for free for the sessions and concerts.

Reviews
As usual on a Wednesday, I only catch the end of early-starting shows. But I was glad to catch the end of Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar at the Geomatic Attic, Wednesday, March 20.
They were in the middle of a long, soulful jam on “Proud Mary,” which started off slowly and picked up the pace to a fevered tilt like Tina Turner was wont to do back in the day. Her hot seven-piece band got to show off their musical chops including Lethbridge singer Mwansa Mwansa, who has been with the band for a couple of years.
The standing-room-only crowd called them back for an encore of another extended jam on “Send Me A Letter.”
Martin’s ragged yet soulful voice rang through the room as the crowd focused on her, breaking out in applause as a few danced in the aisles. She brought out the spirit of Janis Joplin as well as her inner Tina Turner, while still making “Proud Mary” her own.
After all the band members soloed and broke it down, singers Mwansa Mwansa and Sherie Marshall sang a few bars on their own and brought the band crashing back in as Martin wandered through the crowd, shaking hands and saying farewell, promising to be back soon.
Donovan Woods at Sterndale Bennett
The Geomatic Attic tested out the Sterndale Bennett Theatre as a new venue and packed approximately 160 people into the room, Sunday, March 24, for a captivating show with Sarnia, Ontario and newly minted Juno Award winner Donovan Woods and The Opposition, his backing band including lead guitarist Dean Drouillard, who has played with Buffy St. Marie, Deep Dark Woods drummer Joshua Van Tassel, bassist John Dinsmore and keyboardist Robbie Grunwald.
Woods had a mellow, whispery contemporary folk pop sound along the lines of Michael Bernard Fitzgerald and Dan Mangan with a touch of Paul Simon.
He switched guitars and patch chords pretty much every song, telling stories all the while.
I was sad to have missed opener Katie Pruitt, even more after she joined Woods on stage for an encore of “I Ain’t Ever Loved No One Like You.”
“There was a time in a career where I wouldn’t have let someone who sings as well as Katie on stage with me because I’ve made a career of musical mumblespeak,” chuckled Woods, who spent most of his set cracking jokes and telling stories about the giant banner behind him, and writing songs like “What Do They Mean” with “the guy from Lady Antebellum (Charles Kelley)” and Jake Etheridge, “who is really famous in Holland.”
He played a captivating set of songs from his latest CD “Both Ways,” and a few covers of songs he wrote in Nashville including “Portland, Maine” which Tim McGraw recorded for his 2014 Sundown Heaven Town.
“I never thought I’d write a better song than that and I was going record it myself, then Tim McGraw said he wanted it. And I said yes because my goal is rich, and rich in Sarnia is having two sleds and a trailer and a Ford 150 to go to beautiful Lake Huron,” he deadpanned, noting McGraw made it track 11 on the CD “where all the hits go.”
Tyrants of Chaos at La Cite Des Prairies
Local power metal band Tyrant of Chaos held a wild CD release party for their CD “…into Oblivion,” Saturday, March 23 at La Cité Des Prairies.
They had 200 people of all ages there to experience the show,
They were super tight, with duelling guitars and incendiary guitar solos from Curtiss Vaselenak and Arik Wagner, big riffs, thundering rhythm form Ryan Dyck and bassist Paul Denton and Phil Sirias’s air raid siren vocals. Sirias showed his more melodic, soulful side on “One,” one of Vaselenak’s songs.
21st Avenue at the Slice
I missed She Hangs Brightly’s return to the Slice, Saturday, March 23. I was in time for new local band 21st Avenue. I only caught one side of 21st Avenue during CKXU Musical Melee Battle of the Bands, last week, March 16, but caught the full experience March 23 at the Slice.
Instead of a more country rock sound, this show was a heavier, more grunge and psychedelic rock-influenced set.
They had plenty of groove and hot guitar solos and a lot of energy.
They wound up their set with covers of the Pixies’ “Where is My Mind,” and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’“Californication.”
New lead singer Oztin Bowden, who sang quite well, noted he was usually a guitarist, and picked up guitar for the last couple of songs.
Flawed Hearts and Waiting Room at the Owl
I missed Calgary singer/songwriter Tara Warburton at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, but caught the end of an early show at the Owl Acoustic Lounge with Victoria ambient indie rock/folk band Flawed Hearts and the Waiting Room. They were powered by siblings Sam Britton and Lindsay Britton, who danced and weaved in place behind a backdrop of smooth, multi-layered textures and hippyish groove.
Steve Keenan at Casino Lethbridge
Steve Keenan returned to Casino Lethbridge to play a couple of packed show. I only caught a part of the set. Keenan added keyboardist Gary Drayton to his band including drummer Darwin Romanchuk and bassist David Popovich.
Drayton added a whole other dimension to Keenan’s exploration of blues and blues rock. And the band was very tight.
Hotel California at Average Joe’s
Eagles tribute Hotel California, pulled out all the stops for a show at Average Joe’s March 22.
I was in time for their second set of Eagles hits and solo hits and in time to bring one woman on stage for a birthday shot and another on the sign and strum one of their guitars.
The Toronto-based band has been together longer than the actual Eagles, with their newest member, guitarist Mike Dimoulas joining them in 1986.
Drummer Kevin O’Donnell sang several of the Don Henley written hits note perfectly like “Best of Your Love,” and “In the Long Run” as well as a solid version of Henley’s solo hit “Dirty Laundry.”
But most of the set focused on their more country rock sounding early hits like “Tequila Sunrise,” and my favourite, “Take It Easy.”
Mike Dimoulas switched to his double neck guitar for “Hotel California,” and played note perfect harmonized guitar solos with “Rick Spyder. He also traded his guitar for saxophone mid-song for a couple of songs. All four members including bassist/lead vocalist Andy Lapointe, who also sang lead for a couple of songs, nailed the Eagles’ signature vocal harmonies.
They played in front of a massive screen featuring images including the song titles and images relating to them like a sunrise for “Tequila Sunrise,” and the photo of Winslow, Arizona signpost.
CKXU wound up this year’s FUNdrive’s Music Monarchy Shaela Miller playing Ramones covers, upstairs in the old Firehall, March 22.
I missed most of the cover show, but was in time to catch a fascinating set from Shaela Miller and her band.
Covering Ramones songs, country style, the band, including bassist Paul Holden, drummer Tyler Bird, lead guitarist Jon Martin and John Vornbrock adding extra vocals, infused alt country style into a variety of popular Ramones numbers including “Sha Sha La La (Howling at the Moon),” “Beat on the Brat ” and “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg,” to name a few. They sounded pretty unique when turned into country songs and the band knew their source material.
F&M and
It is always great to see Edmonton folk duo F&M. They were competing with a lot on March 22, so didn’t have a good a turnout, but husband and wife duo Rebecca and Ryan Anderson made the best of it, playing a sweet, sometimes exotic music powered by the Anderson’s vocal harmonies, Rebecca Anderson’s keyboards, accordion and guitar and Ryan’s guitar and vocals.
As usual at the Owl, people were chattering during the duo’s set, which Ryan Anderson didn’t take kindly to, pointing out “there’s a band playing on stage.”
They always play an appealing set of laidback, hauntingly beautiful music which reminded me of Twilight Hotel. Rebecca Anderson sang almost operatically and spine chillingly.
Rebecca Anderson’s accordion added a French cabaret jazz feel to a few of the songs.
They wound down their set with the last single form their sixth and latest CD “Lessons From Losers.”
They ended their show by wandering onto the floor to play one last song acoustically with Rebecca on accordion and her husband on guitar.
Makiisma at the Slice
Megan Brown is back in town and starting to play a lot.
She was with Junkman’s Quire for a pre-St. Patrick’s Day party at the Owl, march 16, but brought her own band, Makiisma to the Slice, March 22. Brown, keyboardist TJ Waltho and rhythm section of Drummer Keenan Pezderic and bassist Steve Martin played a set of Brown’s unusual original alternative folk and even a bit of soul.

April 3
Beaches — Open mic
The Slice — Aydn Towns with Poor Nameless Boy
April 4
Good Times — Comedy open mic
Slice — open mic
Zoo — Thursday Thursdays open mic
April 5
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Rovers in the Round, A Upside Down Home Affair Lethbridge) Tyler Allen, Nasti Weather, Kimberley MacGregor, The Brain Porter
Honker’s Pub — open mic
Casino Lethbridge — Diva Cabaret 7:30 p.m. $35
The Slice — Amy Arsene Art showcase with Queen of the Worms
Average Joe’s — Yuk Yuks Comedy with Ryan Patterson, Austin Lonnebug and host Randy Webb
Good Times — Eric Johnson Small town Tour with Ainsley McPhail $15
U of L Last Class Bash Basement 732, Skii Tour, Junaid the DJ, max Thompson, Homeless in Hawaii
April 6
Slice — S.K.Wellington with Bella White
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Metrik jazztet 3-5 p.m.
Honker’s Pub — afternoon open mic
Casino Lethbridge — Diva Cabaret 7:30 p.m. $35
Coaldale Inn — Alzheimer’s Fundraiser with Mark hall band, Eric Braun and more $10
Average Joe’s — Extreme Cheer Sensations Fundraiser with Old School $15, 8 p.m.
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Adequate
YatesTheatre — Lethbridge Music and Speech Arts Festival Musisical Theatre Showcase 2:30 p.m. $5
April 8
Owl Acoustic Lounge — open mic
April 9
Slice — A Slice of the Blues jam with Keith Woodrow
April 10
Beaches — Open mic
Theoretically Brewing — Blessed, Cosmo Duff and Bummer Club Video Release $10 7 p.m.
April 11
Slice — open Mic
Good Times — Comedy Open mic
Zoo — Thursday Thursdays open mic
Geomatic Attic — Whitney Rose with Shaela Miller $35, $40 8 p.m.
April 12
Average Joe’s — Dueling Pianos with Cal Toth
The Slice — Charlie Jacobson
Watertower Grill — Jolene Draper and the Inquisitive Few
Casa — Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra Extra C Russian Gems
Casa — Lethbridge Folk Club Open mic
Honker’s Pub — open mic
Good Times — Todd Ness 6:30 p.m. 9:30 p.m. $10
April 13
The Slice — Feel Good Jacket with Orbit the Fox and Dead Levee
Stoketown — Brunch Concert Series with Kavangh and Hepher 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Geomatic Attic — Altameda with the Silkstones 8 p.m. $30, $35
Watertower Grill — Jolene Draper and the Inquisitive Few
Southminster United Church — Cancer Blast
Empress Theatre — David Francey
YatesTheatre — Lethbridge Music and Speech Arts Festival Best of Show Showcase 2:30 p.m. $5

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