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L.A. Beat

Cathy Hawley among the talent coming out for South Country Fair Songwriting Contest

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There must be something in Southern Alberta’s water as a wealth of prairie talent played the South Country Fair songwriting contest finals, March 31 at the Slice. I didn’t envy the judges of the event, as they had to choose the best newcomer and best old pro to play main stage slots at this year’s South Country Fair alongside  acts like  the Weber Brothers, Rae Spoon and many more to be announced.Host John Wort Hannam helps Cathy Hawley set up her guitar. Photo by Richard Amery

 Cathy Hawley, who usually plays the Lethbridge Folk Club open mics, owned the stage and eventually was declared winner with her country/ folk number “Red Shoes.” She did a great job on her traditional country sounding tune.

 I was only able to take in most of the newcomers section before leaving to do my radio show. But I was very impressed by the breadth of talent as well as the variety on stage.
 Meagan Rourke made a long awaited return to the Slice stage as she played a new song “Intimate Manipulation” displaying her considerable guitar chops and vocals which touched on jazz, folk, contemporary pop and even a little bit of rap.

 Brenna Lowrie, who alJolene Draper sings ‘Earth Song’ at the SOuth Country Fair songwriting contest finals. Photo by Richard Ameryso played Swig of Alberta backed by a full band, though I missed her set unfortunately, showed considerable improvement  for her song “ For Parting” which was more straight ahead folk and modern female folk/ pop.

 Fort Macleod’s Jenn Wostenholme bright a guitar player on stage for her song “July Rain” and after  a false start, delivered  the radio friendly Nashville style pop-country a la Taylor Swift on her song which featured some beautiful singing.

George Arsene, backed by Taylor Ackerman on banjo  delivered a back to the basics alt-country number “ Fear and Common Sense,” which made me miss him playing his bands with the Skilletlikkers and Rancho Deluxe.
 I was glad to catch Jolene Draper, backed by bassist Bruce Roome and Murray Nelson on guitar, as she reeled and writhed, dancing in place on stage to  the catchy jazz tinged  “Earth Song,” which appealed to  a lot of the cheering crowd, who sat enraptured through everyone’s  songs. Draper took home second place while Lowrie claimed third with George Arsene getting an honourable mention.

 I was unable to catch the old pros which featured a lot of familiar faces to Lethbridge audiences including talented folks like Steve Foord,  Andrew Scott and Shaela Miller.
 I’d never hear Jana Keeley, who won with her song “All I Want From You.”  Steve Foord took second place with “Three Simple Chords” and Shaela Miller placed third with one of my favourite new songs “Problems.”Low Flying Planes entertained at the end of the night. Photo by Richard Amery

Low Flying Planes entertained for the remainder of the night as the full house slowly trickled out the door and back home. The remainder took to the dance floor to blow off some steam.

They blended beautiful female vocal harmonies with a sassy sense of humour with some fantastic, tasteful fiddle playing paying a variety of traditional sounding bluegrass and country music incorporating a little bass and some guitar. Low Flying Planes, who played the South Country Fair a few years a go may be back again this year.

They were impressed with the enthusiastic audience , asked the Slice to book them again from the stage and promised to return with two full sets before calling it a night just before midnight.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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Last Updated ( Thursday, 12 July 2012 15:43 )  
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