It seems to happen a lot— Lethbridge loses prominent members of the music community.
This year the community had to say good-by to resident Irish roots musician Frank Dooley. I didn’t know him well, but had the pleasure of drinking a beer or two with him. He could usually be found playing Irish music on St Patrick’s Day as well as with roots bands like the Skilletlikkers. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it to his wake at the Slice on Nov. 9 due to family business in Calgary.
We also lost First Nations flautist Two Spirit Sage, who had being keeping a low profile, due to moving away. But he could always be found sharing peace, love and traditional stories at open mic, particularly at Lethbridge Folk Club events.
Both will be missed.
As always there was a lot of local music this year. I’m not going to try to choose the best, because that would be impossible.
But two excellent local roots and country acts, Treeline and Shaela Miller joined forces for many shows and an excellent CD “ Curtains” which combined the vocals of Danny Dyck and Shaela Miller.
We had a lot of memorable touring acts, proving once again if anyone tells you there is nothing to do in Lethbridge, they are either lying or not paying attention.
A variety of local musicians released new music this year including Lethbridge rockers Billie Vegas and the Dirti Speshuls, bluesmen Paul Kype and Texas Flood and somewhat related, Greg Gomola’s new project Zojo Black. And those are only the ones I can remember off hand.
I got to see one of my new favourite rock bands three times this year. Toronto based ’70s influenced supergroup Public Animal, including the unique sounds of Ian Blurton and keyboardist Caitlin Dacey were not only an early highlight of the year at one of many poorly attended, not to mention easily one of the loudest shows this year (which is saying something) at the Slice on Jan. 2 but were also a must see at Sled Island in Calgary as well.
It is a challenge getting to multiple shows in the same night. I usually try to time it so I catch another show during set breaks. But it still requires tough choices.
I had to make a lot of tough choices this year, one of them being June 23 with Public Animal at Bo Diddley’s while Five Alarm Funk were playing a packed and sweltering Slice. I caught the essence of them both though Public Animal was sadly under-attended.
The Geomatic Attic outdid themselves with big shows this year, so much so that they had to move to bigger venues. I was lucky enough to catch most of them.
They brought legendary Mexican rockers Los Lobos to the Yates Theatre, Jan. 23 with special guest Leeroy Stagger and his band who had a great year of their own including opening for Steve Earle in Chicago. Los Lobos played all of their hits and set down a wicked groove for the whole night.
Steve Earle provided another tough choice on June 30 when the Geomatic Attic brought Earle and his entire band to the Southminster United Church, featuring another great new find– folk duo the Mastersons.
I didn’t want to miss a moment of that, but unfortunately that meant I missed the Wild, an up and coming Kelowna based rock band who have charted with their single “Road House.”
But I did catch another of my favourite rock bands One Bad Son, who returned to Lethbridge this year.
It has been a good year to hear modern rock bands, a lot of whom are drawing from the well of the ’70s. Hamilton rockrs Monster Truck is moving fast this year. They played a rip, roaring, wild show full of huge riffs and a touch of the blues at Average Joes on Jan. 28, then graduating to the big stage at the Enmax Centre in August with the Pack AD and grunge icons Alice in Chains. While I didn’t catch the Enmax show, I was properly cowed by their Average Joes show.
Glorious Sons played a couple of wicked shows this year with some high profile acts including Airbourne at Average Joes, Sept. 23.
I love to see bands jam together and experiment on stage, the Glorious Sons provided one on these at Average Joes, Nov. 22 with the Trews.
while I missed the Glorious Sons set, they joined the Trews on stage for a wild jam/ kitchen party on Glorious Sons’ hit Mama’ and the Trews’ “ Poor Ol’ Broken Hearted Me.”
Another great jam I saw was at a sold out Slice on Nov. 21 between members of White Cowbell Oklahoma and Big John Bates.
Different members of White Cowbell Oklahoma joined Big John Bates on stage for a cover of Judas Priests’ “Breaking the Law,” and, my favourite, a jam on Iggy Pop’s “ The Passenger.”
This was definitely one of my favourite shows of the year. White Cowbell Oklahoma always kill it musically and have a wicked pyrotechnics show of fire, sparks and chainsawing toilet paper.
Look for more year in review next week.