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L.A. Beat

Numerous great shows in 2010

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There isn’t a lot going on this week other than a plethora of excellent open mics, Sonis McAllister and the Barracuda Orchestre at  the Tongue N’ Groove, Jan. 7, Bridgette Yarwood at the Mocha Cabana on Jan. 7 and Billie Vegas the Boogie Patrol opening for Delhi 2 Dublin at the Slice. Photo by Richard Ameryplaying the casino this weekend, so now is a good time as any to look back and remember the good times we had in 2010.
 Not only did a lot of new venues open or relocate this year, but new bands sprouted out of the woodwork all over the city. It also seemed like every band and his dog released CDs this year, with a lot more on the way.  Not to mention local bands playing excellent shows throughout the year.

Treeline, Toques and Beards, Leeroy Stagger, John Wort Hannam, Jesse and the Dandelions, the Necessities, Trevor Panczak, Sleeping With Tuesday, Smokestack Jacks, Phantom Creeps, Lustre Creame, Leah Sadler, Shaela Miller, Fist City and the Myelin Sheaths were only a few of the local musicians playing regularly and releasing excellent new music this year.

I saw a lot of shows over the past year, so many that they blend together in my mind, so it is a tough task to choose favourites as I’ve enjoyed all of them in their own unique  way. In fact there are as many  different types of  shows as there are performers. Here are just a few in no particular order. Musical tastes are subjective, so I don’t want to hear  any complaints about my choices or the ones I missed. Because even I miss a show every now and then.

Boogie Patrol with Delhi to Dublin
— The Slice, Sept. 14: It is always a pleasant surprise when the opening act comes close to blowing the headliners off the stage. There were a couple of shows like this. Energetic Edmonton blues/ R and B band the Boogie Patrol played to a packed Slice, Sept. 14. It was packed because most of the people were duly impressed by Delhi 2 Dublin’s amazingly incendiary set of rock tinged R and B/ reggae/ blues and world music at this year’s South Country Fair and were looking for a second helping. However, the Boogie Patrol, a late addition to the bill, were more  than up to the challenge of opening. These skinny little guys from chilly Edmonton sounded like they should have been big black guys from  the south side of windy Chicago. They blew a lot of minds and won a lot of new fans with their inimitable stage presence, crazy harp playing, frenetic organ and top notch musicianship.
 And a lot of people must have remembered them from that show, because their headlining show, Nov. 27 at the Slice was just as hot and featured a crowded room.

Magnificent 7 and Shred KellyDec. 3 Owl Acoustic Lounge :  After Henotic closed, several new venues opened up, particularly  the Owl Acoustic Lounge, which concentrates on acoustic music and is run by Steven Foord and Mel Rodriguez from Henotic who have ably kept Henotic’s spirit alive. Fernie’s Shred Kelly were one of the Owl’s many highlights this year, opening for Winnpeg’s Magnificent 7s. And in fact they almost blew them away with their intense, high energy set of roots/ folk and bluegrass music. As a special bonus, I actually remembered covering Shred Kelly keyboardist / vocalist Sage McBride in a few different performances back in Kenora in another life. But the Magnificent 7s were up to the challenge of following a hot opening act by playing an incendiary set of original bluegrass music.

Several bands featuring unusual instrumentation also were a highlight of the year.
Not only did several shows from the three drum and multi-instrumental Sunparlour Players at the Slice provide a lot of energy for the plenitude of dancers at their almost capacity shows but several other bands brought crazy instruments and costumes.

 Shane Philip —  April 2 Henotic: One man band Shane Philip played three mind bending shows at Henotic, including one of the last ones at the beloved room, (which closed in May). He simultaneously played several types of drums, numerous guitars and three didgeridoos, while singing spellbinding melodies.

Maria In The Shower —  July 28 the Slice:  Maria in The Shower, dressed like grifters from the 30s, sported bowler hats, played a trumpet  and lots of other things as well as a stand up bass among other things for their very cool show, but unfortunately not many people were there to experience this  unusual event.
Blackberry Wood —  Aug 26 The Slice : Blackberry Wood, featuring one of the members of Maria in the Shower, played the Slice a couple of times, bringing an array of percussion, brass and Vegas kitsch costumes through a hot set of jazz and old tyme country music with a modern twist.

Shane Chisholm at Average Joes. Photo by Richard AmeryShane Chisholm Sept. 3, Dec. 4 with Julian Austin Average Joes: One of the new venues opening this year was a revamped and relocated Average Joes. With a beautiful new stage and top shelf lights and sound, they brought in a variety of classic rock (Prism, Helix and Nazareth) plus tribute acts and country acts throughout the year.  But one of my favourites was Claresholm based rockabilly/ country performer Shane Chisholm. He’s a big guy who has a presence all of his own, but when he brought out the home made stand up bass he made out of a van’s gas tank, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. Especially when he made it sound so good, big and resonant. And when he did a dual drum solo on it with his drummer, followed by setting off a shower of sparks on it with a grinder, that was just plain awesome.

White Cowbell Oklahoma Slice Feb. 18: Mayhem and chaos is assured when White Cowbell Oklahoma come to town. This was the case twice this year, Feb.18 and Sept. 23.
The Feb. 18 show was better because they pulled out all the stops with chainsawing toilet paper and  a blazing cowbell courtesy of Charlie Chainsaw, who couldn’t make it to the September show because he was either arrested or sick depending on if you believe frontman Clem T Clemson. Luckily the band is more than bells,  whistles, fireworks  and loud noises. They have the musical chops, catchy songs and an affably goofy and manic stage presence to back it up.

Joel Plaskett Geomatic Attic April 10: Geomatic Attic The Geomatic Attic had some great shows this year. It’s tough to choose a favourite from everyone from the  Good Lovelies, Ron Hynes, Steve Dawson, Slaid Cleaves, The Weber Brothers, the Sojourners to a special Jill Barber show at Southminster United Church for Womanspace, but two sold out dates from Joel Plaskett were one of the best. He was comfortable with the crowd, played some of their requests,  a lot of old favourites and joked all night long.

Forbidden Dimension Henotic April 16 with the Von Zippers : Henotic had too many great shows to list this year before they closed in May.
But  in the upstairs lounge in  a surprisingly cold April 16, Forbidden Dimension heated things up with some classic rock, garage rock, metal and blues. Now I know what Calgarians have been raving about all these years.

John Henrys  and Madison Violet  — The Slice May 6: There were a lots of great roots shows this year. One of my favourite shows, and now, one of my  new favourite bands is the John Henrys, who despite suffering from Spring colds, put on an upbeat and well-played set of alt -country. Think the Band meets Son Volt. Excellent.

 Romi MayesHenotic  April 5 and Slice Aug. 6: The lovely and talented Romi Mayes played a couple excellent shows this year, beginning with an unfortunately timed Easter Monday show at Henotic, which wasn’t as well attended as it deserved. She is undeniably charming, talented and has a stunning roots/ rock/ bluesy voice. She sounds like a more bluesy Joan Jett. And with her own band including the Perpetrators’ Jason Nowicki on lead guitar now, it is a double dose of Winnipeg awesomeness. She got the crowd she deserved when she returned to the Slice, Aug. 6.

PerpetratorsSlice April 30: Speaking of  the Perpetrators, it is always a pleasure  to see the Perpetrators play, especially seeing as vocalist/ guitarist Jason Nowicki always seems to have a new band behind him. But they had a sold out and enthusiastic crowd  at the Slice, April 30 and Nowicki was at his Hound Dog Taylor best as they roared through blues standards and popular Perpetrators’ original blues rockers.The Topless Mongos  playing Mammoth Cave 2. Photo by Richard Amery

Mammoth Cave 2 Henotic May 4 Topless Mongos, Wicked Awesomes and a lot more: This massive day long, two level blow out has a special place in my heart as I actually got to open it up in the upstairs lounge for all of five people — three of whom weren’t paying attention and two who came just to see me. But that was only the start of a massive day full of music including 21 local performers and a fitting send off to a much loved new venue which closed far too soon. There were several great acts off all stripes, but I liked the poncho wearing,  Strokes style mayhem of the Wicked Awesomes and  the crazy garage punk of the Topless Mongoes the best.

 Cousin Harley, Eve Hell and the Razors Geomatic Attic July 4: Mike Spencer  knows his music and is always willing to help a good cause, this time it was Feed The Children. So this summer, he brought in some very cool Canadian rockabilly — Calgary’s Eve Hell and the Razors and Vancouver’s Cousin Harley, plus local rockabilly trio Bent 8. They brought the spirit of the ’50s into the 21st century with plenty of hot licks and Gretsch powered mayhem.

C.R. AveryHalloween the Slice: I’ve seen  beat poet/ rapper/ bluesman/ folk singer/ songwriter C.R. Avery before, but not with a full band behind him. So I was blown away by him on Halloween. He spanned every genre and leaped into the audience, who should have been larger. But it’s Halloween, so everyone has their plans.

Grady at Average Joes. Photo by Richard AmeryGradyAverage Joes Nov. 23: I always wondered what happened to Big Sugar’s Gordie Johnson. I knew he was producing records for bands like Govt. Mule down in Austin, but somehow missed his new project Grady, a classic blues rock power trio with a louder, more modern spin. It’s type of band that you ask where they’ve been all your life. Now we know— they’ve been heating it up in Austin. There was lots of big Gibson powered mayhem, Johnson’s beautiful double necked SG, a cute girl drumming, lots of energy and they even played a couple Big Sugar songs. What could be better?

Ken Hamm  and Linda McRae Folk Club Nov. 27: The Folk club also had an excellent line up this year( with Heather Blush, the Alien Rebels, J.P Cormier and Ray Bonneville, just to name a few, ) though often under-attended shows. Ken Hamm is one of my favourites. When he picks his old National Steel guitar, he usually looks possesed. But this night he grinned ear-to-ear, got Linda McRae to help out during his set, and blew a decent crowd away with his picking prowess. It has been a long time since he’s been to Lethbridge and even longer since I’ve seen him play,  so I was glad to see him again.

The Lethbridge music scene is taking off and it’s only going to get better.
It has a been a great year for new live music venues opening up for musicians to play and open mics almost every day of the week.
 During it’s year long run before closing in May, Henotic brought the music and art community together, providing both for not only a place to perform a wide variety of music, but for artists to display their work on the walls.
 Fortunately, The Owl Acoustic Lounge picked up some of the momentum started by Henotic when they opened in June, with local art being featured on the wall and live acoustic music throughout the week. Another long standing live music venue, the Coal Banks Inn  closed this year as well, though it was overshadowed by Henotic’s closing on the same weekend.
 At the same time  Average Joes moved to a bigger building and  premiered a brand new stage with a  superb sound system and impressive lights, to host bigger, classic rock bands, not to mention a popular Thursday jam.
However, just this past week, the Tongue N Groove reopened in the old Average Joes building with a bigger, more roomy, more classy  feel. With all of these new venues, the  Slice’s steady support of the music community throughout the years and new venues and open mics starting regularly, the next year should be a great one for local music. Now it is just a matter of getting people to come out and support it all.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

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