As usual, there are a lot things happening in Lethbridge this week.
There are a couple of excellent punk and metal shows, but just as many good folk and country shows and some weirder music on top of all that. And that’s just on Friday.
Wednesday, May 22 rocks with a whole lot of metal at the Slice with local metal bands Chernoff, Drearius plus Portage la Prairie metal band Dead Ringer, beginning at 9 p.m. There is a $10 cover for the show.
Gabe Thaine’s High Level Variety night is back at the Slice on Thursday, May 23 with host magician Ben Price. Thaine’s country roots band the Rugged River Ramblers will also be performing beginning at 8:30 p.m. Admission is by donation.
Friday cooks. Local bluesman Paul Kype hosts Honker’s Pub’s Friday night open mic beginning around 8 p.m. Also on the northside, at the Smokehouse, there will be a whole lot of punk and metal happening. Vancouver’s Russian Tim and the Pavel Bures will be playing punk versions of Russian pop and rock songs. They will share the stage with local punk band The Hockey Moms and ’90s-style, Riot Grrrl-style alternative rock trio Mombod. Admission is $10 at the door. The music begins at 9 p.m. with Bob Scallywag playing an acoustic set.
Downtown on Friday, local roots/country band Rancho Deluxe will be releasing their debut CD “Lucky Stars” at the Slice beginning at 9 p.m. Steve Foord will be opening the show.
The Slice stays in the roots vein with an excellent southern Alberta roots and country show May 25 featuring Calgary guitar picker Carter Felker and the Amy Nelson Band, who are releasing their new CD “Educated Woman.”
Down the road, things get a little weird in the pop vein as Lily Fawn of Hank and Lily brings her new experimental indie pop project Hush Hush Noise to the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Friday, May 24. Local electronic pop musician Tyler Vandendool will open the show at 9 p.m. Admission is by donation.
The Owl Acoustic Lounge continues in the pop vein on Saturday with local pop band Stars From Streetlights and Calgary band Septembryo, who blend the rock of Muse with the danceability of Daft Punk. Admission is by donation.
Saturday entertainment begins in the morning at Casa with the Allied Arts Council’s annual kiosk kick-off barbecue. There will be live music happening from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. including performances by Ian Hepher, Mi Colombia Linda, Polkaholix, Mary-Anne McTrowe and Brian Bradfield.
There will be free hamburgers and cake for the first 250 people to arrive. There is no charge to attend the event. After that, Aaron Landry hosts Honker’s Pub’s afternoon open mic beginning at 3 p.m.
The Smokehouse has another big rock show on Saturday, May 25 with local band Lawless Murphy, who will be playing rock, country and pop music beginning at 9 p.m. In a similar vein, local rock/pop/country band the Bamboo Guppies return to Casino Lethbridge for Friday and Saturday.
And local funk/R and B/pop trio Adequate send the funk into the sky as they play the Watertower Grill, May 24 and 25 at 8 p.m. each night.
As usual, the laughs are at Good Times this week as they host basketball player-turned comedian and writer Henry Sir for two shows, at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 25. Admission is $10.
They have something special on Tuesday, May 28 as they welcome former pro wrestler Hacksaw Jim Duggan to share stories. VIP meet-and-greet tickets are $45 for the meet-and-greet, which begins at 6, while the regular show begins at 7 p.m. Admission for that is $25.
Victoria musician Lily Fawn explores her more experimental pop side with her new project Hush Hush Noise, which comes to the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Friday, May 24.
Hush Hush Noise evolved out of a collaboration with fellow Victoria musician Eric Hogg to recreate the music of the TV show Twin Peaks.
“And we enjoyed working together so much, we wondered what it would be like to collaborate on original music,” said Fawn, who is best known as one half of experimental/swamp rock duo Hank and Lily.
“Eric is the the nicest guy. And he’s so easygoing. He’s quite musical. He’s given me the licence to be creative. There’s no idea too weird that he isn“t willing to try,” she continued.
“I’m so excited to bring it to Lethbridge (May 24 at the Owl Acoustic Lounge). It’s so different. It’s a lot more experimental and a lot more electronic pop,” she added, noting the duo have been playing together and recently released their self-titled debut CD on Rae Spoon’s record label Coax Records.
“It’s more like (English electronica band) Broadcast or Metric,” she described. “And it is a little like Bjork,” she said, agreeing her distinctive high-pitched voice does draw the inevitable comparisons to Hank and Lily.
But she said it is also a lot different than the Twin Peaks project
“It’s more pop indie rock, but it isn’t Britney Spears,” she continued.
“It’s a collaboration. I wrote 50 per cent of the music and Eric wrote 50 per cent. So it’s a pretty good mix,” she said, adding she plays a variety of percussion, ukulele, vocals and musical saw in addition to singing. Hogg plays guitar, sequencing and sings.
Hush, Hush Noise are combining the Lethbridge show with a week-long tour of B.C. and Alberta including a gig at the East Town Get Down Festival in Calgary, May 25.
They are planning a tour out east of Ontario and Quebec for the summer.
Lily is glad to be part of Rae Spoon’s record label Coax.
“We’re very excited to be part of Coax. It has ended up being a perfect fit for us. Rae has been very cool so it is great to be part of Coax,” she said.
She noted Hank and Lily are also working on new music, but she wants to keep the two musical projects separate.
“They’re totally different. Hank and Lily are a lot more theatrical. I don’t wear the deer antlers (she always wears while playing with Hank and Lily) for Hush Hush Noise,” she said.
“Hank moved to Vancouver, to do more theatre, so it’s hard to get together,” she said, adding they are working on a new Hank and Lily EP when they have time.
“It’s busy balancing both projects. But we have a new Hank and Lily EP recorded that we might release this summer,” she observed.
Hush Hush Noise and Tyler Vandendool play the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Friday, May 24. Admission is by donation.
Jojo Mason at Average Joe’s
I can’t stand modern pop country, but Vancouver-based Jojo Mason always puts a smile on my face, as he did for an enthusiastic crowd consisting mostly of screaming young women at Average Joe’s, Thursday, May 16.
Mason has been to Lethbridge several times with Gord Bamford and the James Patrick band, but was excited to play his first headlining show at Average Joe’s. I wish I could be half as happy as he looks on stage. He couldn’t stop thanking his fans enough, noting he was excited to meet each and every one of them.
I missed opening act Lauren Mayell, who had Lethbridge’s Mike Gnandt as part of her band, but was in time for a hit-powered, 60-minute set from Mason. He was in the middle of his latest hit, “The Future,” beaming beneath a baseball hat pulled low over his eyes. He eventually dropped the hat and mopped the sweat off his sweaty brow with a white towel in between raving about how happy he was to be there.
He sang in a liquid, velvety tenor voice seamlessly blending pop, R and B and soul with barely a touch of country music.
His tight band played plenty of subtly saccharine riffs to go with his gorgeous voice. He worked his way through his popular hits like “Red Dress” and “Edge of the Night,” and “It’s All Good,” which featured a freestyle rap breakdown in the middle of it, and had the enthusiastic audience singing along with the rest of it. A lot of them remembered him from his last show with Gord Bamford, including me. I was glad to see him break out on his own, adding a few pop covers as well, which I didn’t recognize, but which had the audience singing along.
He road tested the upcoming single “Better On You,” which got a lot of applause as he raved about working with songwriter Mitchell Tenpenny, who also wrote “The Future.”
As did “Good Kind of Love,” one of his earlier cuts.
His voice reminded me a lot of ’80s pop stars the Fine Young Cannibals.
He ended his set with “It’s All Good.”
Montgomery Street Band at the Slice
Fredericton, New Brunswick’s Montgomery Street Band (Patrick Gushue, mandolin/fiddle, Liam Keith-Jacques, guitar/dobro; and Scott Michaud, banjo/guitar) opened up the Thursday open mic at the Slice, May 16 with a full set of quick-picked finger-bleeding bluegrass and traditional country music which also touched on Celtic music for a couple songs. A relatively new bassist noted he stepped in for this tour as he plucked a beautiful oversized Mariachi-style acoustic bass.
They played a set of Doc Watson covers, beautiful originals featuring some excellent mandolin playing and some beautiful vocal harmonies. Near the end, Gushue traded his mandolin for a fiddle to wind down their exuberant set with guitarist C.A. Jackson, who played an opening set.
Piggy Stock – Continuum
I was pleased to see Sheldon Shukaliak’s event Piggy Stock was sold out at the Polish Canadian Club, Saturday, May 11. And while most of the audience had cleared out after Dory Rossiter’s band Horizon had finished, I was even more pleasantly surprised to learn Continuum was really just a rebranded Eric Braun band and settled in for some energetic blues and jam rock music.
Braun, as usual, showed some excellent guitar-playing chops, and having a keyboardist, drummer and bassist to back him up gave him a lot more room to move, play and experiment.
Crimson Funeral at the Slice
The Slice was all about loud, head-banging rock with groove metal band Concrete Funeral, Saturday, May 11.
I missed the Hockey Moms and Crimson Caliber, but caught Calgary death metal band Concrete Funeral’s hot and heavy set. They were all playing loud, crushingly heavy doom-laden riffs on vintage ’80s headless guitars and basses.
They reminded me of a blend of White Zombie and more modern metal like the Cancer Bats, but added two-handed tapping shred-style licks as well.
Sandwitch at the Owl
Experimental jazz/rock band Sandwich had to experiment at the Owl Acoustic Lounge as guitarist Arlen Wutch came down ill and Ryan Heseltine couldn’t make it to the gig so they recruited Jon Martin to add guitar to Kyle Harmon’s drumming and Paul Holden’s bass to cobble together a set of covers. They also added another guitarist/vocalist to play a pretty cool version of ‘90s gem, the Refreshments’ “Bandidos.”
Jolene Draper and the Inquisitive Few at the Watertower
It’s always fun to see Jolene Draper and the Inquisitive Few. I caught part of their set at the Watertower Grill, Friday, May 10.
They were learning a few new songs, but did capable jobs of covers like a jazzy version of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” And I have been enjoying their cover of Shocking Blue’s “Venus.” They ended the set I saw with s spooky cover of Portishead’s “Glory Box”
Dead Army at Smokehouse
My timing was really off May 10, so I missed several shows I wanted to see because I wanted to make sure I caught new local rock band Dead Army, who were playing the Smokehouse with several other metal and hard-rock bands including Eons of Earth. And I caught them on a set break, as Dead Army aka frontman Rob Cooper, bassist Chris Sarazin and drummer Ken Paul set up a variety of lights and effects units, before finally taking the stage.
They have a lot of potential, with lots of effects-drenched guitar and groovy, throbbing bass. They had plenty of smoke and flashing lights and riffs that took you back to the heyday of detuned ’90s grunge and post-grunge music, but with just a touch of Zack Wylde era Ozzy Osbourne.
Most of their set was all original music. One highlight was a song called “Flowers,” which Cooper noted he wrote 10 years ago in Winnipeg.
Beaches — open mic
Slice — Dead Ringer with Chernoff and Drearius
The Slice — High Level Variety with host Ben Price
The Zoo — Thursty Thursdays
Good Times — Amateur Night
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Lily Fawn Hush Hush Noise with Vandendool
Smokehouse — Russian Tim and the Pavel Bures, Hockey moms , Mombod 9 p.m. $10
Slice — Rancho Deluxe CD release party
Casino Lethbridge — Bamboo Guppies
Honker’s Pub — open mic with Paul Kype
Watertower Grill — Adequate
Smokehouse — Lawless Murphy
Slice — Amy Nelson band with Carter Felker
Casino Lethbridge — Bamboo Guppies
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Septembryo/ Stars From Streetlights
Honker’s Pub — open mic with Aaron Landry
Good Times — Henry Sir
Watertower Grill — Adequate
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Open Mic
Onion — open mic
Good Times — Hacksaw Jim Duggan $25 7p.m. or $45 meet and greet 6 p.m,
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Standup Comedy open mic
Beaches — open mic
The Slice — Patrick Alexandre LeClerc with Vince Andrusko
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Owl Poetry open mic
Good Times — Amateur night
Owl Acoustic Lounge — The Utilities with Bailey Kate
The Slice — The Gentlmen’s club with 21st Avenue
Casino Lethbridge — Peter and the Wolves
Honker’s Pub — open mic with Kelly Klimchuk
Casino Lethbridge — Peter and the Wolves
Moose Hall — All ages skate punk show The Moröns, Sessions, Trashed Ambulance
Twin Butte Store — Cam Penner
The Slice — South Country Fair Songwriting Contest finals 7 p.m.
The finalists are as follows:
Ali Stuart – Like it That Way
Chris Ryan Drew – Only Human
Chris Gheran – Old Time Feeling
George Arsene – She Sings to Her Horses
James D. Swinney – Hummingbird
Jon Martin – When Colours Fade
Joshua Beebe – Clayton Stanley
Megan Brown – Do I Work for the Devil (or Live in Hell)
Taylor Lang – Over Many Horizons
Tyson Ray Borsboom – Tell Me