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White Cowbell Oklahoma and The Trews hit the stage

Posted on November 19, 2014 by Lethbridge Sun Times

This is the week for testosterone-powered, dirty, loud rock and roll due to a lot of really excellent loud shows happening throughout the week.

White Cowbell Oklahoma, one of my favourite southern rock-influenced bands of madmen, make a long-awaited return to Lethbridge on the heels of re-releasing their CD “Buenas Naches.”

This is going to be an amazing bill at the Slice on Nov. 21 as Vancouver’s Big John Bates is joining them as are the Paceshifters coming all the way from the Netherlands.

It is going to be one hell of a show, so if you like loud rock and roll and lots of showmanship, don’t miss it. Tickets cost $20.

If your ears aren’t ringing too badly from that show, Antigonish, Nova Scotia-born Torontonians The Trews return to Average Joe’s Nov. 22. The Trews have just released their self-titled “thank you album for their fans.” This will be an excellent double bill, too, as Kingston rock band the Glorious Sons return to Lethbridge to open the show. The show begins at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $25 in advance, $40 at the door.

The Slice features an excellent pop punk show on Nov. 24 with local bands Open 24/7, Pistols and Parachutes and Left is Always Right along with Calgary’s Come Out Swinging and Winnipeg band Broadview and acoustic folk performer Frankie Curchelles aka Alone I Walk.

And local rock band the Chevelles play their monthly gig at Average Joes, Nov. 21 as well.

For something a little more country, Winnipeg country/roots musician Sean Burns visits the Owl Acoustic Lounge with Kris Ulrich, Nov. 21.

Calgary folk/roots band the Ashley Hundred return to the Owl Acoustic Lounge this week as well to play a Nov. 22 show with We Were Friends.

And in a similar vein, Carla Olive and Toni Vere return to Lethbridge to play upbeat roots and folk music at the Mocha Cabana this weekend on Friday and Saturday.

Earlier in the week, if you want to hear the blues, Calgary’s Tony Kaye will be rocking the Slice blues style on Nov. 20. There is a $5 cover for the show.

And if you’ve got the jazz then play it at the Slice on Nov. 19 at their monthly jazz jam with HBO3 who also have their regular Thursday night gig at Plum, Nov. 20.

It is starting to look like Christmas, unfortunately, thanks to snow and sub-zero temperatures, so go someplace warmer in your mind with a couple excellent world music shows. First of all, all the way from Africa, Zimbabwe’s acappella ambassadors Black Umfolosi will be visiting the Geomatic Attic, Nov. 21, to share the sounds of their homeland. They have been singing together for 30 years. Tickets cost $30 for the show, which begins at 8 p.m. Popular Toronto folk/pop/world singer Danny Michel returns to Lethbridge to play the Slice, Nov. 24. The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $15 in advance, $18 at the door.

And local female acappella choir the Southern Accord Chorus are bound and determined to get you in the Christmas spirit in November with their annual Christmas show at the College Drive Community Church, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” will also feature performances by Mark Campbell and the Chinook High School Women’s Chorus and Karma Quartet. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Ticket cost $15 at Casa.

Sean Burns to play roots in Lethbridge for first time

Oshawa-born, Winnipeg-based country/folk musician Sean Burns spends most of his year on the road singing about whiskey and heartbreak, but his path has never lead him to Lethbridge until this week when he plays the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Nov. 21.

He will be playing as a duo with Winnipeg guitarist/steel guitarist Kris Ulrich.

“We’re going to play the music from a new EP we just released together and music from my last album (“Cold Beans & Broken Eggs.”) and sprinkle in a few covers,” he said.

“We’re really proud of it (the EP),” he said.

“There’s six tunes on it. Half of them are the upbeat country rock that I do and the other are more folky singer songwriter stuff. It really represents what we do live,” he said.

“Kris and I love working together,” he added.

He met Kris shortly after moving to Winnipeg a year ago.

“He was playing in the band of a friend of mine Sol James who plays soul and R and B and pop music. He was playing guitar and he’s a great player so we started playing together,” he said.

He is looking forward to his first visit to Lethbridge.

“I’ve played everywhere else in Alberta, but never Lethbridge. But it’s a great little room we’re playing. And a lot of my friends hang out in Lethbridge and speak pretty highly of it,” he said.

“I am looking forward to it. It’s exciting to play some place we’ve never played before. So I hope people will come out and listen to us and if they like what we hear, we have stuff at the merch table for them,” he said.

“Hopefully we can add Lethbridge to the rotation.”

There is no cover for the show, which begins at 9 p.m., Nov. 21.

White Cowbell Oklahoma to bring rock and roll mayhem

It is always a surreal experience talking to White Cowbell Oklahoma frontman Clem T Clemson, who brings his testosterone-powered band of Toronto-based southern rock madmen back to Lethbridge to play the Slice, Nov. 21 with Big John Bates and Netherlands rock band the Paceshifters.

“We just got to Vancouver. We drove through the frozen wastelands of Mordor to get here,”  Clemson said of driving straight through from Toronto to Vancouver where the revamped band will begin their tour in support of the new reissue of their 2012 album “Buenos Naches,” which has been released with an entire extra record of unreleased and live tracks on coloured (red and blue) vinyl.

“We recorded so much music for the album, we had to pick and choose. CDs are long and people have short attention spans. After 45 minutes people get bored. But with vinyl, you can play side one, or side two or side one and two or all four. So there are all of the songs from the album as well as bonus tracks and a few live tracks we didn’t use on the live album ‘Viva Live Locos,’” he said.

“People think ‘Buenas Nachas’ is a misprint. Buenas Noches means good night, but Buenas Naches means nice haunches or in Mexican slang, nice ass,” he said, adding the working title for the next album is “Huevos Grandes” loosely translated as big eggs or in Mexican slang “big balls.”

The new album is reminiscent of their earlier, more straight-ahead, balls-to-the-wall southern rock.

“I’m glad you noticed that. The last album ‘Bombadero’ we were influenced a lot by European progressive rock.

“So we got a bit Sabbathy and freaky. On this one we wanted to go for a more Mexican and southern rock and desert rock feel, with a little bit of spaghetti western music,” he said.

The band has not toured Canada much over the past few years, concentrating on the United States and Europe.

“We’ve actually been brooding in castles in the steppes of Europe in some kind of a star chamber dressed in druids robes.

“And wouldn’t you know it, being musicians, we started to write music,” he said adding they will record a new studio album next year with the new music and play some of the new songs on their latest tour.

They were pleasantly surprised by the audiences in Europe.

“People were actually paying attention. They were applauding after every guitar solo. So they were actually listening to the music. So you don’t just have to put on a good show, you can play good music, too. If you’re a band like White Cowbell Oklahoma, you can do both,” he said.

They have changed their lineup a couple of times since their last visit, adding Blind Barbecue Wilson and Long John Butterball to their guitar army, which includes Clemson as well as percussionist Chainsaw Charlie, guitarist Handsome Chuck, drummer GM Safari and bassist South Pawl Jones.

“We found Blind Barbecue Wilson living with wild dogs in Russia. But he’s actually from Yellowknife, so he must have wandered over there on an ice bridge,” Clemson said.

“So now we actually have two guitarists from Yellowknife because Handsome Chuck is from Yellowknife, too,” he continued.

The band is celebrating their 15th anniversary of their “tsunami of testosterone” and unleashed musical mayhem.

“People ask us why we haven’t self destructed like a volcano of chaos. It’s because we’ve embraced the chaos. We’re motivated by pure spite,” he said.

They are also motivated by a lot of southern rock and Mexican music not to mention random destruction as they often light things on fire and shred rolls of toilet paper with a chainsaw on stage.

“We love playing Lethbridge. The first time we were there, there were people protesting. But they all had early bedtimes, so they were gone by the time we got there,” Clemson related.

They are excited to tour with Vancouver’s Big John Bates.

“I don’t think the building will be able to handle it,” he said.

Tickets cost $20 for the show, which begins at 9:30 p.m.

Big John Bates continues musical transition

Vancouver musician Big John Bates is moving onwards and upwards as his music continued to evolve.

Bates, who first came to the fore as part of ’80s metal band Annihilator, became an underground psychobilly sensation complete with burlesque dancers as part of Big John Bates and the Voodoo Dolls, but has changed his sound again over the past few years.

Big John Bates returns to the Slice, Nov. 21 with White Cowbell Oklahoma and The Paceshifters from the Netherlands.

“I think we explored the direction of psychobilly as far as we could with the Voodoo Dolls. So we were searching for a new direction and Brandy (Bones, standup bassist/vocalist) came up with some great ideas for that,” Bates said, standing by the side of the road in West Vancouver, waiting for a tow truck after the band’s van engine blew en route to the second gig of the tour on Vancouver Island.

They released a new EP “Black Timber Bitter Root” in April which showed off some of the more Queens of the Stone Age/Gothic Americana/desert rock sound the band is exploring.

“It’s still pretty heavy, but it’s very dark and has a lot of orchestral textures,” he said, crediting much of the orchestral sound to cellist Leanne Laboucher. The band also includes Brother Chris playing percussion

“Leanne plays beautiful cello so it’s slightly more epic sounding,” he continued, adding the cello complements Brandy Bones’ bass as well as her haunting contralto voice.

“We’re doing more sonic experimentation. So it’s less boppy and more textured which we combine with more spaghetti western music,” he said, adding there’s no burlesque dancing in the show now.

“We stopped doing that a couple years ago. We wanted to make the show more about the music,” he said.

Around the same time they started changing their sound on their last full-length LP “ The Headless Fowl,” they caught the ear of punk icons the Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra, who signed them to his record label Alternative Tentacles.

“He brought us onto his label and gave us a push. He legitimized us in America,” he said.

They always enjoy their Lethbridge shows, which sometimes features fans joining the band on stage.

“The fans are always really enthusiastic there and we love playing the Slice,” he said.

Tickets for the show, which features White Cowbell Oklahoma and The Paceshifters, cost $20. The show begins at 9:30 p.m.

The Trews playing together for 10 years

It has been 10 years together for the Trews, who return to Lethbridge to play Average Joe’s Nov. 22 in support of their new, self-titled album.

“I feel grateful for it. Some days it seems like 10 years, other days it just seems like yesterday,” said the Trews lead vocalist Colin MacDonald from a tour stop in Saskatoon, where it is “-28 and damn cold.” They’ve had to cancel a gig in Prince Albert.

“It’s just one of those things that happens. We’ll use the extra day to do more press in Edmonton,” MacDonald continued, adding he is grateful to the band’s fans for supporting them throughout the years.

“We started this on a month-by-month basis where we left our home town for Southern Ontario to play some gigs and it lead to where we are today. We’ve got to tour the world and play with some of our favourite artists. We’ve made five albums. It’s been crazy,” he said.

The new album, which was fan funded through crowd-funding through pledgemusic, has received a lot of positive response and has been described as a thank you to the fans.

“It’s a line I used. We went to pledgemusic.com for funds. Basically the fans bought the album before we even recorded it and we used the money we raised to make the album,” he said, adding that added a little bit of pressure to the band.

“It did a little. But it was a good kind of pressure. We always work hard. We never just phone it in. We always put a lot of pressure on ourselves and we put out a great album,” he said, noting the lead single “Fair Is Fair” was the the number-one-added song at Canadian Active Rock Radio when it was released on Feb. 24.

“People really like it. It debuted at number one, so it’s nice to know we can still make a milestone album.”

He noted the CD has a lot of variety.

“There are songs that don’t even have drums on them and there are, big, loud rock songs. We’ve gone more extreme on both ends,” he said.

They also perform a duet with Serena Ryder, “In the Morning.”

“We have the same guitar tech. And we’ve known of Serena for years and we love her voice. We came up with a song we though would sound great with a female voice so we asked the tech if she would be interested in singing it. It was simple as that,” he said.

They are excited to return to Lethbridge for the first time since 2012.

“I think it was the Hope and Ruin tour. I remember there was a pipe and drums band playing with us on ‘Highway of Heroes.’ It was really fun,” he said.

“We’ve got this great opening band the Glorious Sons who are tearing it up across the country so we’re looking forward to coming back,” he said.

Tickets for the show are $35 in advance, $40 at the door. The show begins at 9 p.m.


Tasman Jude spread peace and love

Winter may be cold in Grande Prairie where Tasman Jude come from, but the reggae band were all about peace and love and warming the cockles of hearts as they showed at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Nov. 12.

They had a whole lot of soul and reggae grooves from bassist Derek Wilder and lots of rhythm as lead singer Caleb Hart and brand new percussionist Bethanie Earle tapped out toe tapping rhythms together.

Hart sang with a lot of heart and dollops of soul, sounding like Blues Traveller’s John Popper singing reggae music.

Guitarist Al Peterson grooved and sang backup harmonies.

They got the decent-sized crowd to sing from the start adding lots of oohs and ahhs.

Most of the set focused on jams from their new CD Green, beginning from beginning to end with the first track “Zion” and “Yahweh” which set a spiritual, positive and positively uplifting tone to a chilly night.

The band’s namesake “Tasman Jude” was a highlight of the quick, hour-long set.

Tokyo Police Club and Said the Whale bring a crowd out in the snow

You know your band is doing something right when you can pull several hundred enthusiastic people through a blizzard to hear you play on a Sunday night. Such was the case on Nov. 9 where Said the Whale and Tokyo Police Club were worshipping at the altar of indie pop music at Average Joe’s with their many fans.

Most of them were there to hear Said the Whale, confirming the band’s assertion that “Lethbridge has always been good to us.”

They have long-standing fans in Lethbridge as most of the packed dance floor were singing along.

They had plenty of addictive vocal harmonies and catchy pop fuelled hooks with a touch of keyboards and lots of sweet guitars.

They also had distinct frontmen who shared their own voice in the music.

A lot of people were hoping they’d play longer than their 45 or so minutes. But they got the crowd warmed up for Tokyo Police Club who are touring in support of their new CD “Forcefield.”

They played much of that CD and more punk-tinged, dance pop music in the same vein as bands like the Killers.

They played a stripped-down set of electrifying pop music with just a touch of punk music.

They also had plenty of ear-worms and harmonies in the set like “Hot Tonight” from the new CD.

Papa King premieres new blues band

Lethbridge bluesman Papa King premiered the new line up of his band — standup bassist Keenan Pezderic, guitarists Evan Uschenko and Scott Mezei and drummer Clayton Smith at the Slice, Nov. 8. He sat back and let them shine throughout his enjoyable, jam-filled show.

He began his second set with one of my favourite originals, “Busy Boy Blues,” and it took off from there.

His song about using the right tool for the job was a highlight as was a long jam on “Honeypie.”

In addition to originals the band played blues classics like “St. James Infirmary” and much more.

Mercury Audio keep toes tapping

Calgary based roots/rockabilly band Mercury Audio got a whole room full of toes tapping at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Nov. 8. While I missed opening Act Sparkle Blood, Mercury Audio was just getting warmed up by the time I arrived.

There was plenty of bone shaking standup bass and lots of twang from frontman Dylan Sadlier-Brown.

They alternated between playing heartbreaking country and upbeat rockabilly music. They put their own stamp on classics like “Summertime Blues” and Fred Eaglesmith’s “Georgia Overdrive.”

Nov. 19

Owl Acoustic Lounge — L.A Beat open mic

Bo Diddly’s — Open mic

Slice — Jazz jam with HBO3

Nov. 20

Plum — HBO3

Slice — Tony Kaye musician

Owl Acoustic Lounge — Queereoke

Nov. 21

Casino Lethbridge — DNR

Owl Acoustic Lounge — Sean Burns Duo Tour in support of our upcoming EP, performing at the Owl on Friday, Nov. 21

Slice — White Cowbell Oklahoma with Big John Bates $20

Mocha Cabana — Carla Olive and Toni Vere

Average Joe’s — The Chevelles

Jimmy’s Pub — Open mic

Wolf’s Den — bluegrass jam

Geomatic Attic — Black Umfolosi November 22

Casino Lethbridge — DNR

Slice — Open 24-7, Come Out Swinging, Broadview, alone i Walk, Pistols and Parachutes $10

Average Joe’s — The Trews with special guests the Glorious Sons $35 advance, $40 at the door

Mocha Cabana — Carla Olive and Toni Vere

Owl Acoustic Lounge — The Ashley Hundred with We Were Friends

College Drive Community Church — Southern Accord Chorus baby It’s Cold outside 7 p.m. $15

Nov. 24

Slice — Danny Michel $15 advance $18 door 8 p.m.

Owl Acoustic Lounge — open mic

Onion — open mic

Nov. 25

Owl Acoustic Lounge — Drink and Draw with Eric Dyck

Slice — open mic

Nov. 26

Southminster United Church— 2014 Kid’s Choir Lethbridge Symphony

Slice — Unleash the Archers with Caste of Shadows and Order of Chaos $15

Owl Acoustic Lounge — Comedy Open mic with Randy Webb and Jeff Gunderson

Bo Diddly’s — open mic

Nov. 27

Southminster United Church— 2014 Kid’s Choir Lethbridge Symphony

Plum — HBO3

Nov. 28

Mocha Cabana — Herb Hicks Jazz Quartet

Owl Acoustic Lounge —Toques and Beards with The Yeah Dads and Broads

Casino Lethbridge — Jo Hikk

Slice — Zojo Black CD release party with the Silvertuns

Nov. 29

Casino Lethbridge — Jo Hikk

Mocha Cabana — Herb Hicks Jazz Quartet

Owl Acoustic Lounge — Adequate

Nov. 30

Moose Hall — Blue Ridge Mountain Society country jam 1 p.m.

Dec. 1

Owl Acoustic Lounge — open mic

Onion — open mic

Dec. 2

Average Joe’s — Mother Mother with USS

Slice — open mic

Dec. 3

Slice — Rae Spoon, Geoff Berner $10

Owl Acoustic Lounge — L.A. BEat open mic

Bo Diddly’s — open mic

Dec. 4

First Baptist — Church Steve Bell

Plum — HBO3

Dec. 5

Wolf’s Den — Charlie Ewing $20 members $25 non-members 8 p.m.

Casino Lethbridge — The Dungarees

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