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February 20, 2020 February 20, 2020

Country music in the spotlight

Posted on February 5, 2020 by Richard Amery

There is a whole lot of country music coming up in early February. To start things off, local country/folk musician Chris Drew hosts the Slice’s open mic, Thursday, Feb. 6. And for Canadian country music, it doesn’t get much better than Ian Tyson, so some of his former bandmates, collaborators and biggest fans present the “The Gift: A tribute to Ian Tyson” at the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod, Thursday, Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Performers include members of Tyson’s former band, led by Stewart MacDougall, an Edmonton singer-songwriter who has written, toured and recorded with Tyson, along with Thom Moon (percussion), Myran Szott (fiddle, vocals) and Gord Matthews (guitar, vocals). They will be joined by Julian Kerr (bass, vocals), Ian Oscar (acoustic guitar, vocals), Tracy Millar (guitar, vocals) and John Wort Hannam (guitar, vocals). Tickets are $40.
There is a lot of country music on Feb. 7 with Makiisma returning to the Slice, The Cody Hall band and High River singer songwriter Craig Carswell coming to the Owl Acoustic Lounge and the Karen Romanchuk band revisiting Casino Lethbridge for the weekend.
The Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra goes country for their important annual “Love Notes” fundraiser, Feb. 8 at the Sandman Signature Inn downtown.
Trevor Panczak will be performing the event which begins at 6 p.m., with a gala reception, dinner, door prizes and auctions. Individual tickets cost $150, though sponsorships are available: Quarter Note – $1,000; Half Note – $2,000; Whole Note – $4,000 and Grand Pause – $8,000.
Winnipeg folk/roots duo the Small Glories play a special Sunday night show for the Lethbridge Folk Club at the Lethbridge College Cave on Feb. 9. Cathy Hawley and Henk Van Ginneken will open the show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 for members, $30 for non-members including a year membership and $10 for children 6-14.
Gabe Thaine has another busy week, playing the Slice. Feb. 8 with Blue and Good Time Charlie as well as hosting the Slice of Blues jam on Tuesday, Feb. 11.
If you want to rock and roll, celebrate local drummer Garwin Poff’s 40th birthday with two of his bands, MTBC and Hypnopilot, performing with Calgary power trio Bazaraba and ’70s-inspired rock and roll band Shadow Weaver playing the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Feb. 8. It is a special ticketed event. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.
Calgary country musician Carter Felker returns to the Slice for the Windy City Opry, Feb. 12. And James Swinney’s country alter-ego Corduroy Brown hosts the Slice’s open mic, Feb. 13. Swinney will be heading to the Twin Butte Store Feb. 14 to open for the Dark Wrangler and Makiisma.
And that’s not all.
Edmonton-based rising country stars the Dungarees play the Owl Acoustic Lounge for Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. Also on Valentine’s Day, the Herb Hicks Jazz Quartet and Sheena Lawson play a special dinner at the old Firehall. On the pop side of things, Tyler Vandendool kicks off another mini-tour at the Slice with local funk rock trio Adequate.Admission is $10.

Edmonton country band the Dungarees bring their new EP “Twenty-Something” to the Owl Acoustic Lounge Feb. 14.
Anybody who has elderly parents or grandparents will identify with their latest single, “Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To,” the second single from the EP, which was released six months ago on Road Angel Records with Warner and Sony distributing it, though it was just released digitally on Jan. 18.
“I think a lot of people identify with that song,” said bassist/vocalist James Murdoch, who is joined by guitarist/vocalist Robb Angus, guitarist/vocalist Kiron Jhass, steel player Darrek Anderson and drummer Ben Shillabeer.
“The three of us in the band all had different ideas about the song. We started thinking about things like a sweater or guitar that are like an anchor in our lives. It could be a car, a guitar or an old sweater or a person. For me, I was thinking about my grandfather who passed away a year ago, who always said ‘Do it right the first time and it will last a lifetime.’ Which means don’t start changing yourself. Have pride in yourself and your work,” Murdoch continued, adding this CD is a little more serious than their previous work.
“We’ve been playing for 10 years. And it was all about having a good time. We wanted to write about more serious things,” he said.
The band has done things right the first time They had a top-50 single in Canada in 2014 with “I Ain’t Through Being Happy Yet,” and followed it up with “I’m Down,” which broke the Top 40.
In 2017, they had another hit with “Anywhere With You,” which earned them three ACMA awards for Group of the Year, Video of the Year and the Rising Star Award. This year, they are nominated for six Alberta Country Music Association awards and played the ceremonies in Red Deer, Jan. 24 and 25.
“We’ve been nominated for best album of the year, best single of the year for ‘Twenty-Something,’ group of the year and community spirit award which is really special, because we played the 24-Hour Gig Challenge, where we played for 24 hours to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society,” he said, adding he has also been nominated for “Just Drive,” a song he co-wrote with Justin Hogg, plus video of the year for “Twenty-Something.” They release the video for “Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To” on Feb. 4.
“It’s great to get support from radio, but there are other ways to get your music out there,” he said.
“It’s nice to get a little bit of recognition for our work.”
“The last few years have been very busy,” he added.
Over the past few years, they have charted several singles including the previous single “Twenty-Something” and have earned a dedicated audience in Australia.
Murdoch is looking forward to returning to Lethbridge. The Dungarees played Casino Lethbridge a couple of years ago, and Murdoch went to LCI for a couple of years.
“My mom lives in Lethbridge, so I’ve been back and forth for 17-18 years. It’s been too long since we’ve played it. We’re playing with Shaela Miller, so we’re excited about that,” he enthused.
“We’ll be playing a full set including the new album. It will be like a high-energy rock show. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he promised.
The Dungarees and Shaela Miller play the Owl Acoustic Lounge Feb. 14. Admission is by donation.

Feb. 5
Beaches — open mic
Feb. 6
Slice — open mic with Chris Dew
Empress Theatre, Fort Macleod — Ian Tyson Tribute
Feb. 7
Slice — Makiisma
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Cody Hall band with Craig Carswell
Honker’s Pub — open mic
Casino Lethbridge — Karen Romanchuk band
Twin Butte Store — Starpainter with Bailey Kate
Feb. 8
Sandman Signature Inn — Lethbridge Symphony, Love Notes with Trevor Panczak
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Bazaraba, Shadow Weaver, Hypnopilot, MTBC
Slice — Gabe Thaine band, Good Time Charlie, Blue$10
Honker’s Pub — afternoon open mic
Casino Lethbridge — Karen Romanchuk band
Feb. 9
Lethbridge College Cave (Lethbridge Folk Club) — Small Glories
Casino Lethbridge — Oscar Party $10
Feb. 10
Owl Acoustic Lounge — open mic
Feb. 11
Good Times — comedy open mic
Slice — Slice of Blues jam with Gabe Thaine
Feb. 12
Beaches — open mic
Slice — Windy City Opry with Carter Felker
Feb. 13
Slice — open mic with Corduroy Brown
Feb. 14
The Slice — Vandendool Mini Tour kick off with an Adequate Valentines Day $10
Owl Acoustic Lounge — The Dungarees
Honker’s Pub — open mic
Old Firehall — Bavura Valentines Day dinner with Sheena Lawson and Herb Hicks 5:30 p.m., $130 per couple
Feb. 15
Coaldale Inn — Battle of the Bands 8 p.m. no cover
The Slice — Markus Sommer with Penelope Rose and the Dark Wrangler
Owl Acoustic Lounge — Good Rumour, Webb, Biloxi Parish
Honker’s Pub — afternoon open mic

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