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The Mahones hunger for bringing the Celtic punk fight for 25 years and counting

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It has been about three years and three albums since Kingston born, Montreal based Celtic punks the Mahones visited Lethbridge, but they are excited to finally return to the Slice, Dec. 2 in support of their latest album “The Hunger and the Fight (Part 2), the second half of a punk rock concept album about Ireland, Irish music and the Mahones.

The Mahones’ Finny and Katie mcConnell playing Lethbridge a few years ago. Photo by Richard Amery
“I think those are some of the best songs I’ve written. It’s our masterpiece,” said Mahones frontman Finny McConnell, who is excited to finally return to Lethbridge with band mates Katie “Kaboom” McConnell on accordion and vocals, Dominique Whelan on drums, Michael O’Grady on tin whistle, Sean Winter on banjo, mandolin and accordion and Sean Riot Ryan on bass.

“The first one is more acoustic and traditional and there are covers of Stiff Little Fingers and Thin Lizzy on It. The second is electric. I was looking at Ireland and New York, which is where you’ll find the greatest number of Irish people,”  the Dublin born McConnell said adding his lyrics explore important event in Irish history, famous Irish people and much more.
“We released it in two parts so people wouldn’t have to listen to  24 songs straight in two hours. Unless they want to,” he said.

“It’s a really very positive CD. We have a very positive message. We want to give people a positive boost. Of course there’s a song called ‘Fuck You’ on it, but it is about giving the finger to bad people and corrupt politicians. So it is positive that way,” he continued.
“We’re a very progressively minded and egalitarian band. We believe in power to the people,” he said.

“After 25 years and 15 albums there’s nothing left for us to do than release a double concept album,” he said, adding that doesn’t mean the band will quit anytime soon.
“ You know me, I’ll make it work. I want to be in the 50/ 60 year club like the Who and the Rolling Stones and the Irish Rovers. I wouldn’t want to do anything else,” he said.
 The project features a lot of special guests as usual including members of the Tossers, Joydrop and Simon Townsend of the Who.

“We have lots of guests. We usually do and it’s usually my idea, so I’m usually the one who tracks them down and asks them. Most of them are my friends anyway and I’ll play on their albums too. Nine out of 10 times they’ll say yes. Sometimes it’s ‘you're an Irish  punk band and I’m a blues singer, I don’t know.’ But that’s why I asked you,” he said.


U of L has a terrifying good time with Carrie: The Musical

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Seeing the University of Lethbridge’s production of Carrie: The Musical on Friday night, Nov. 27, made me very thankful for a number of things. First that there are so many talented people in Lethbridge and that I have the privilege of writing about and, in some cases, pShelby Wilson ( Sue) and Alexa Elser (Carrie) are part of Carrie the Musical, Nov. 24-28 at University Theatre.Photo by Richard Ameryerforming with them.

And secondly, and more personally, Carrie: The Musical makes me very thankful that my own miserable high school experience is a solid life sentence without parole in my past. In real life things do get better after high school, though not for the kids in Carrie.

 The massive cast of 30 gleefully embrace their characters of insufferable, bullying brats. So much so that I have never wanted to see a classroom full of kids die horribly, more than I do with the characters in Carrie, most of whom show few redeeming qualities. Am I a bad person for saying that? I’m just saying all of them very convincingly play borderline evil little toe-rags.

Alli Price is completely convincing as tall, skinny, spoiled Queen Bee, Chris Hargensen. And in this case “B” stands for another word which rhymes with witch.

She sings a song explaining her personality somewhat, but the lyrics in that one are difficult to understand. It's something to do with her father.

Her obnoxious, jackass boyfriend Billy Nolan is played equally convincing by Tom Delbello, who you will be able to see in the New West Theatre Christmas show “All Spruced Up,” along with Carrie: the Musical cast mates Kathy Zaborsky and Alexa Elser. Delbello adds some essential comic relief to a production that could otherwise be very depressing.

Shelby Wilson adds a heartfelt human element to this crew of borderline evil teens as Sue Snell, the only  character who has a conscience about the class bullying of Carrie. Her powerful voice stands out during her solo numbers. Her boyfriend Tommy Ross, played by AJ Baragar, is another highlight, showing a range of emotions with just his facial expressions and heartfelt delivered dialogue.

And Carrie herself is played beautifully by Alexa Elser, who shows equal parts pathetic and terrifying as she discovers she has telekinetic powers and learns how to control them, culminating in the climax of prom night. There are some pretty cool effects happening as Carrie learns how to control her powers, though I would have liked to see more examples of her using her telekinesis. Some of them are easy to miss, particularly Carrie moving objects in her room, which is set on the far left side of the stage.


Attainable Records showcases and much more this week

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There doesn’t seem to be a slow week in Lethbridge. This one is no exception. The biggest event of the week is three days of musical showcases brought to you by fledgling Lethbridge record company Attainable Records which include music for a variety of tastes.

 Attainable Records hosts a hip hop showcase at the Slice, Nov. 26 beginning at 7 p.m. with Sykologist, Pat Clifton, Pierre, PsyotaPrism return to Lethbridge this week. Photo by Richard Amery/ Cov Tpada, the Blue, Wade Sandu 7 p.m.. Over at the new Attainable Records headquarters (314 7th St. South, Lethbridge, Alberta T1K 5M2) there is a hardcore showcase  at 6 p.m. featuring Molestronaut, With Gorgon Arms, Tripwire, Snake Pit, Nail Gun, Mortality Rate.

 There are two showcases on Nov. 27 with an experimental music showcase at the Owl Acoustic Lounge  featuring  An Ant and An Atom, Vesela, Bitter Frictions and The Fox Who Slept the Day Away.

 They have a straight ahead rock showcase at their headquarters with The Heart Set, The Silkstones, Sapien, Chef, Coulee Men, The Wells, Moon Runners. That begins at 6 p.m.

 Attainable Records winds up a busy weekend with a brunch at their headquarters at 10 a.m. and the final showcase at the Slice at 7 p.m. featuring Saint St. Quartet, Baptize this Band, Bummer Club, The Wells, Accalia, The Blue, The Detractions and The Ativans.

 Admission is $10 for a pass to individual stages, $15 for the day and $30 for the weekend.
The other big event of the week takes place at the Galt Museum, Wednesday, Nov. 25 where the ACFA Reegionale de Lethbridge Coup De Couer will feature performances by local rock/ jazz/folk group the Junkman’s Quire and Sainte-Françoise de Lotbinière based alternative folk musician Salomé Leclerc. Tickets are $20 for ACFA  members, $25 adults, $25 student $10. The show begins at 8 p.m.
Wednesday is also a good night to laugh. Timmins born stand up comedian Derek Edwards, described Rick Mercer as the “funniest man in Canada” returns to the Yates Theatre, Nov. 25 as part of his Baloney and Wine tour. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $45.

And after that, the Owl Acoustic Lounge stand up comedy open mic will be happening beginning around 9 p.m. with hosts Randy Webb and Jeff Gundarson.
 The big country show of the week featuring Brett Kissel and Jordan McIntosh at Average Joes, Nov. 26 is sold out.


Barra MacNeils to bring Christmas spirit to Lethbridge

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Cape Breton based family band the Barra MacNeils are excited to bring a Celtic flavour to the Christmas season in Lethbridge when they play The Yates Theatre, Nov. 28.

The Barra MacNeils come to Lethbridge this week. Photo submitted
“This is the fifteenth year we’ve done the Christmas tour, but I think it’s the first time we’ve brought it to Lethbridge,” said Barra MacNeils accordionist/ tin-whistle/ flautist / vocalist Stewart MacNeil from a tour stop in Cranbrook.

Three brothers Kyle ( vocals/guitar/violin/mandolin), Sheumas (keyboards, piano, bodhran, fiddle , bouzuki, vocals) and Boyd ( mandolin, fiddle, guitar, banjo, percussion, step-dancing) and sister Lucy (vocals/bodhran/Celtic harp/step dancing) plus bassist Jamie Gatti flew out to Vancouver to begin their fifteenth annual tour on Nov. 13.

“It’s really become an amazing part of our career,“ MacNeil said.
“It's also become a tradition for a lot of families. They come and see us and bring their children. So it really is a family show,” he continued.

“It’s a combination of Christmas show and Cape Breton kitchen,” he said adding they draw material from the group’s three Christmas albums plus some beloved instrumentals and add some step dancing into the mix as well.


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L.A. Beat is Lethbridge, Alberta's only online arts and entertainment magazine.

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