I’m sure a lot of people will be glad to see the back of this mean, nasty, tumultuous and tragic schoolyard bully of a year that has been 2013.
There have been floods, fires, hailstorms and prominent deaths in the community. At times it seems like Armageddon is near.
This year the local music community community was rocked by the loss three of their prominent members — Salem Abraha in May and Randy Shaver and James DJ Booda Nishima with weeks of each other in August and September.
They will be missed, mourned, but more importantly — remembered. They may be gone, but their spirit lives on in the number of great musicians, promoters and personalities carrying on their work.
Other members of the community have suffered serious car accidents (Bente Hansen and sound man Rod Minty) and illnesses which they are still recovering from.
Chris Lipinski and his wife Courtney lost their house to a fire, Frank Dooley had a serious construction accident.
But the silver lining of these tragedies, should you choose to see it, is the community has rallied around them and others who need help.
The community came together to organize well attended benefit for some of these folks including the Lipinski’s July 10 and other benefits for George Arsene and Murray Nelson. Two other groups of musicians stepped forward to raise money for victims of the floods in High River — one really great day long event at a new bar in town the Smokehouse and another at CASA.
Local artists came together to volunteer time, labour and materials to build a gorgeous new gallery for the Potemkin Gallery on the second floor of the same building which houses the Owl Acoustic Lounge. Unfortunately, that gallery is no more due to the landlord deciding to rent the space out, leaving the local artists collective without a gallery.
The opening of Lethbridge’s new downtown arts centre CASA back in May was a major highlight of the year for the local arts community.
It has been home to several new art exhibits, gives local artists studios and equipment to use and has hosted some truly great concerts including Oscar Lopez and Awna Teixeira who opened it, May 22 in a collaboration with the Geomatic Attic and, among others, Saskatchewan bluesman Jack Semple during this year’s Lethbridge Jazz festival.
It has been another exceptional year for touring acts.
I got to interview one of my all time favourite punk musicians, Joe Keithley and see one of my favourite bands D.O.A. play in Lethbridge at a disco (Studio 54) of all places. That was one of my favourite all time interviews. I also got to interview Great Big Sea, though I was unable to see the show, being in the middle of a road trip to Vancouver to see my favourite band Govt. Mule.
It has been a great year old school punk rockers, most of them playing the Moose Hall.
The Dayglo Abortions and Bunchof---ingoofs played there as well.
The Geomatic Attic had some of my favourite roots acts including Little Miss Higgins with the Winnipeg Five, Grapes of Wrath, the Sadies and acts I haven’t heard before like Virginia string band the Steel Wheels.
They also brought in top notch gospel act the Sojourners on Oct. 6 for a great audience.
They also had the best gospel/ religious act of the year with the The Sojourners who played, Oct 6 Geomatic Attic
The Slice has had a lot of great roots/ alt country and indie rock acts. The Weber Brothers Band continued to be one of my favourite and one of the most under rated Canadian bands now touring
They also had a spate of great blues acts within the span of a month including Tim Vaughan and Paul Reddick with Ben Sures, to name a few. Winnipeg blues-rock trio the Perpetrators tore apart the Slice again, Nov. 2 this year as well and Wild T and the Spirit played their usual incendiary show for no people at the Slice as well.
But out with the old and in with the new. I’d rather look ahead of me than behind me. And at this time of year, I like to raise a glass and toast “May the best thing that happened to you last year be the worst thing that happens to you next year.”
Look for more of the best of 2013 next week.