The thing about a year is you never know where you will end up by the end of it. No matter how carefully you plan your life, life itself has its own plans. There is always something, be it family issues, changes in employment status and financial status, or just discovering a new inspiration that clears a new path. But it is always up to you whether to take the new path or stay on the same road.
2019 was a really busy and fulfilling year fraught with freak snowstorms and rain.
Most of my life has been intertwined with covering arts and entertainment in Lethbridge, school and helping my dad in the city. The past 10 years have been wrapped up in my online magazine, L.A. Beat.
I started L.A. Beat with a lot of help from my webmaster cousin Rod in April 2009. Ten years operating your own business is a monumental and exhausting achievement, and an almost thankless task financially, but fulfilling in all other ways.
I didn’t think Lethbridge’s arts community was getting the recognition it deserves and I’ve done my best to fill that niche. To cap off a busy 10 years, the Allied Arts Council gave me the Mayor’s Award for individual excellence for my support of the local arts scene at the Mayor’s Luncheon in September. Thank you to everybody for reading my ramblings and, more importantly, supporting the arts in Lethbridge, because I can’t do what I do without you doing what you do.
So I wanted to mark 10 years of covering arts in Lethbridge by becoming a bigger part of the arts community.
I got to act with three of the major community theatre troupes in Lethbridge, beginning with breaking in the newly renovated Sterndale Bennet Theatre. I played a bit part in Playgoers of Lethbridge’s production of “Where’s Oscar” in February. Right after that, I played the therapist Ernie in Hatrix Theatre’s production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors,” at another new venue, the McNally School.
And hot on the heels of that, I joined the Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society’s production of “Macbeth,” which was a blast, though plagued by inclement weather.
I even got up on stage to sing and perform a couple of times. I always enjoy being part of the Lethbridge Girls Rock Camp Band Swap so took the stage at the Owl Acoustic Lounge June 8, joining two-thirds of Mombod a.k.a. Mandy Fox and Amberlea Parker and Chris Hibbard on vocals. I got to play bass, guitar and cigar box guitar for that show.
I wanted to show off some of my favourite photos from the past 10 years of L.A. Beat and the Lethbridge Sun Times so Darcy Logan let me have an exhibition of some of my 3- D photos at Casa in May, which was very cool. I had a lot of fun splashing paint on some of my favourite photos and turning them 3-D by pasting cardboard behind parts of them.
And because I spend a lot of time at the Slice listening to music, in September, Slice owner Derek Hoyle let me put up a couple dozen of my favourite shots at the Slice from the past 10 years.
On top of everything else, I went back to school in September for a second degree in masochism … er, management and new media.
The New Media 1000 class installed a show at the Dr. Penny Foster building in November, so I put up another pic, which I didn’t get printed in time for the Slice show, at the Dr. Penny Foster Building instead.
I began the year by starting singing lessons with my wonderfully talented and supportive friend, inspiration and muse Andi Roberts. A single mom teaching singing full time while going back to school, she inspired me to tackle university as a mature student.
Going back to school was a path I hadn’t really considered seriously, as I already booked this January’s vacation, not thinking it might conflict with classes in the spring. But freelance income dried up to pretty much nothing about the same time I decided to apply to the U of L.
But I did it, and pulled some decent marks considering I’m trying to run a business at the same time and help my dad every week in Calgary.
Along the way, I acted in three plays, had three art shows and saw a lot of great bands. As always, I was impressed with young new bands like Biloxi Parish, The Cayley, Fawns, Dead Army, The Decadent Phase and numerous other which seemed to form every month. A new ’50s pop band called Frankie and The Bridge Mix were a highlight. I got to see some of my favourite bands play Lethbridge usually at the Slice like the Wild!, D.O.A., the Dayglo Abortions, Peter and the Wolves, Tin and the Toad and discovered lots of new touring folk and roots acts like Richard Inman and Ellen Froese. Winnipeg country musician Sean Burns became a familiar face in Lethbridge, playing all over the city pretty much every other month.
D.O.A. headlined the most eclectic bill of the year for a packed Slice, May 21. I missed local folk/country musician Tyson Ray Borsboom. Everyone was there for Indie-pop singer Mike Edel and most had trickled away by the time Vancouver hardcore legends D.O.A. took the stage. They were still done by midnight though.
Five Alarm Funk made a long-awaited return to the Slice, June 25. Eve Hell and the Razors also made a long-awaited return to play more rockabilly.
B.A. Johnson brought the funny for a couple of packed shows at the Owl Acoustic Lounge. The Owl was pretty much consistently packed for most of their shows. The return of folk trio Fates were one of my favourites. Jody Peck and Sarah Burton finally returned to the Owl Acoustic Lounge to play a great show for a handful of people, which was a shame.
Due to family issues, I missed a final show from Hollerado and a few concerts I really wanted to see at the Geomatic Attic like Del Barber. I did catch one of my favourite touring road shows — Barney Bentall’s Grand Cariboo Express featuring Bentall, Leeroy Stagger, Matt Masters, Dustin Bentall, RIdley Bent and a lot more. Jimmy Rankin played two soldout shows at the Geomatic Attic
The Folk Club found a new leader in Tom Moffat, so I caught a few outstanding shows there from folks like Tri-Continental and Old Man Luedecke. Earlier in the year, Ken Hamm return to blow some people away with fretboard wizardry, April 27.
Shaela Miller’s Windy City Opry celebrated three years at the Slice with great acts like Zachary Lucky and Peter and the Wolves.
Mike Spencer’s Wide Skies Music Festival also turned three this summer. He brought in some exceptional talent including Danny Michel, Harry Manx and Steve Marriner and Cousin Harley, who were outstanding as usual.
The Owl featured a variety of different music from folk and country like to alternative rock and punk like Vancouver’s the Jins and a great stoner rock show featuring Chron Goblin and Black Mastiff.
Blues made a bit of a comeback with local acts like Papa King, Paul Kype and Steve Keenan playing a lot throughout the year. Colorado bluesman Johnny O played here twice and Keith Woodrow began a regular monthly blues jam at the Slice. Edmonton based harpmeister Harpdog Brown played another excellent blues show at the Slice, Feb. 26.
The Slice featured several indie-pop acts including Royal Oak and Chersea. There were also several good Celtic rock shows including a new Calgary band Syryn and Mustakettu, who played the Slice, Aug. 24. There was also more traditional Celtic music from the Irish Descendants and the Derina Harvey band who played within weeks of each other.
There was also a fair number of metal shows, most of which I never made it to.
Whoop-Up Days added a modern flavour this year with outstanding shows including Corb Lund, Walk Off The Earth plus the Arkells and Dear Rouge. One of my new favourites, the Dirty Nil, opened that show.
I had to balance those shows with my annual Mulegrimmage. So this year I did a quick road trip all the way down to Billings without a working radio, to go see my favourite band Govt. Mule.
Average Joe’s brought in mid-level pop acts like Tyler Shaw and country from Gord Bamford and George Canyon and up and coming country pop star Jojo Mason. They had a great rock show from the Trews, Feb. 5.
South Country Fair was a rainy affair this year. But there were a lot of highlights, though I only caught Friday night and Saturday. One highlight was Jack Garton and Demon Squadron, who returned to the Owl Acoustic Lounge after the Fair and played an exceptional show. Bad Buddy, an Edmonton psychedelic garage rock band featuring Alex Vissia were a South Country Fair highlight who returned to the Owl Acoustic lounge in December to play another excellent show. South Country Highlight.
Peter and the Wolves were another South Country Fair highlight who played Lethbridge several times in different incarnations.
I didn’t catch a lot of the big Enmax Centre shows, but couldn’t resist a high-octane Judas Priest show, June 10.
So after all that, what’s next? I don’t know. Who knows where this year will lead me. Family will definitely be a big part of 2020. I anticipate acting a little. You will likely see me at a lot of live shows this year. I probably won’t have any art shows this year. School is sure to be part of the new year as my second semester begins on Jan. 6. But I might even transfer to the college in September. Maybe I’ll just buy a Harley and ride off into the sunset. The future is unwritten. Texan songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard has some words to live by in his song Mother Blues — “The days I keep my gratitudes higher than my expectations, I have really good days.”
May the best thing that happened to you in 2019 be the worst thing that happens in 2020. Be excellent to each other.
There are some hot shows coming up in the first week of January. This week is all about guitar pulls or songwriters’ circles.
The first Windy City Opry of the season, Wednesday, Jan. 8, will be a songwriters’ circle featuring a lot of local talent including Ali Stuart, Bailey Kate, Skinny Dyck, John Wort Hannam, Shaela Miller and Zach Passey. They will be playing two sets, with three songwriters in each set. As always the show begins at 8 p.m. sharp. There is a $10 cover.
The Slice has another songwriters’ circle on Jan. 11 featuring Chris Drew and Friends.
The next night, Jan. 9, Corduroy Brown a.k.a. the Decadent Phase’s James Swinney, hosts the Slice’s Thursday open mic.
Megan Brown, a.k.a. Makiisma, will be at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Jan. 10. She will be joined by unique musical collective Joshua Beebe and the Forest Orchestra, who play their own show, Jan 18 at the Slice. They include Joshua Beebe – vocals/guitar/ukulele; guitarist Barry Livingstone; keyboardist Leif Nordholm; bassist Bee S-O; flautist Beth Wilson; clarinetist Ty Vanden Dool; cellist Seth Harasem-Mitchell; Gabe Thaine Olsen playing trombone/percussion and drummer Devin Gergel.
It is a big local rock night Jan. 10 at the Slice, where Medicine Hat’s Indifferent will be playing with local retro rock band the Cayley and the Waterfront. That show begins at 9 p.m.
The Lethbridge Folk Club features their first open mic of the year, Jan. 10 at Casa at 7 p.m. Amission is $5.
If you are in the mood for a little country, Driven is at Casino Lethbridge for the weekend.
Lemba and the New Testaments featuring Ajay Jameson are at the Owl Acoustic lounge, Jan. 11.
If you want to laugh, Ben Proulx performs at Good Times, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.. Good Times also has a comedy open mic every Tuesday.
It is always pretty special when Winnipeg folk/ punk musician Greg Rekus returns to the Owl Acoustic Longe. He hosts their open mic, Jan. 13 with Grotko.
Gabe Thaine is all over the place in the coming weeks. in addition to performing with Joshua Beebe and the Forest Orchestra, he also hosts the Slice of blues jam on Tuesday, Jan. 14.
That is competing with a special Tuesday night show at the Owl Acoustic Lounge,Jan 14, where Montreal-based multi-disciplinary Métis artist/poet and musician Moe Clark will be performing.
HBO3 brings in the New Year with the first jazz jam of 2020, Jan. 15 at the Owl Acoustic Lounge. It begins at 8:45 p.m. Admission is by donation.
The Slice has a great show on Wednesday, Jan. 15 as country/roots musician Daniel Romano shows his punk side with Ancient Shapes. He was last in Lethbridge in 2018. Local punk band Facecut and Red Deer stoner rock band King Bill will be joining them.
Tyler Bird hosts the Slice’s Jan. 16 open mic.
It is all about rock and metal on Jan. 17.
Calgary band Shuffalo make their debut at the Owl Acoustic Lounge with North Cold that night.
The Slice welcomes local melodic hardcore band Invicta heights with Calgary hardcore punk band Citizen Rage with fellow Calgarians, Celtic rock/symphonic metal band Syryn. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.
For more mainstream Celtic music, the Lethbridge Folk Club opens their spring season on Jan. 18 with Edmonton-based Celtic band Celtara. Tickets are $10 students $30 or $25 for members. The show begins at 8 p.m. sharp.
Zojo Black play the blues at Casino Lethbridge, Jan. 18. And Kyle Gruninger returns to Lethbridge as part of the Queen musical “We Will Rock You,” at the Enmax Centre Jan, 19.
Beaches — open mic
Slice — Windy City Opry
Slice — open mic with Corduroy Brown
Casino Lethbridge — Driven
Honker’s Pub — afternoon open mic
Slice — Indifferent with Waterfront and the Cayley
Casino Lethbridge — Driven
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Makiisma with Joshua Beebe and the Forest Orchestra
Casa — Lethbridge Folk Club Open mic
The Slice — singer songwriter circle with Chris Drew and Friends
Casino Lethbridge — Driven
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Lemba and the New Testaments with AJAY Jameson
Good Times — Ben Proulx
Honker’s Pub — afternoon open mic
Owl Acoustic Lounge — open mic with Greg Rekus
Good Times- Comedy open mic
The Slice — Slice of Blues jam with Gabe Thaine
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Moe Clark
Owl Acoustic Lounge — jazz jam with HBO3 8:45 p.m.
Beaches — open mic
Slice — Ancient Shapes featuring Daniel Romano with King Bull and Facecut
Slice — open mic with Tyler Bird
The Slice — Citizen Rage, Syryn, Eons of Earth, Invicta Heights
Casino Lethbridge — Zojo Black
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Shuffalo/North Cold
Honker’s Pub — open mic
Casino Lethbridge — Zojo Black
Honker‘s Pub — open mic with Mark Hall
Lethbridge College Cave — Lethbridge Folk Club – Celtara $10 students $30 or $25 for members
Slice — Joshua Beebe and the Forest Orchestra
Onion — Strange Manner, Swayze BnB, DJ Yontzie, DJ PEz, Witness me $5 before 10 p.m, $10 after 10 p.m.
Owl Acoustic Lounge — 21st Avenue and guests
Good Times — Brian Stollery
Enmax Centre — We Will Rock You – Queen musical
Theroretically Brewing — Blessed with Body Lens and J Blissette $10
Slice — High Level Variety Show with Gabe Thaine