There were a lot of highlights happening this year from big names you young and hungry up and comers and a couple really exceptional music festivals.
Old punks had favourites D.O.A and The Real McKenzies on March 14 who are always great to see. I wanted to hear the Boids opening for them, but had to choose between them and criminally under-appreciated gypsy folk group Blackberry Wood, who I always like to see.
And while I don’t usually travel to see shows as it means I miss everything in Lethbridge, I made a point of hitting Sidelines in Coaldale, April 19 to hear hockey punks the Hanson Brothers who played a lot of hockey themed hits and even premiered their own beer. As an aside, The Hanson Brothers’ Tom Holliston later returned to Lethbridge on his own to share his quirky folkie side at the Owl Acoustic Lounge , Aug. 28.
I also checked out several all ages punk shows at the Moose Hall this year and was blown away by the raw power, energy and yes, even musicality of some great Albertan punk bands. I was commuting to and from South Country Fair this summer. I had to this time as my long time camera died after six years and I had to get a new one, but it meant I caught an amazing show at the Moose Hall from Edmonton bands MSA and Abuse of Substance.
MSA were off the hook. They stripped down to their shorts and even brought out an didgeridoo for an brilliant punk cover of Midnight Oil’s “Beds Are Burning.” Fellow Edmontonians Abuse of Substance came back a couple of times this year.
The Moose featured some excellent punk shows including a couple from The Rebel Spell and some great new discoveries for me including Copsickle and Knuckledown.
Lethbridge’s resident street punks the Scallywags were involved with most of these shows as were another new discovery, the Mangy Mutts, the only acoustic/ country act to play a lot of these.
The Mangy Mutts were a highlight of one of several excellent festivals happening this year as they opened up the Slice stage during the day long Electric Eye music festival on May 10, which featured garage rock, electronica, punk, country and hip hop at five different venues.
This also featured another great new discovery — The Outlaws of Ravenhurst— a medieval, classic metal metal trio who dressed up as knights for their set.
They returned for another great day long music festival — the fifth annual CKXU Love and Records in Galt Gardens, Sept. 13 as well as at several venues
They were among many highlights of the day and even got the University of Lethbridge Mediaeval club to duel during their afternoon set at Galt Gardens.
Yet another great new new discovery returned to Lethbridge for Love and Records — Edmonton’s Wet Secrets, a side project of headliner Shout Out Out Out Out.
The West Secrets (who later won the PEAK Project competition for Alberta) stole the show, sporting vintage band uniforms band playing upbeat pop music with a horn section, bass and keyboards. They played earlier in the year at the Slice with another favourite — the Gay ’90s who played Lethbridge several times this year.
While Love and Records had after-parties at several different venues, I only made it to the one at Plum featuring Edmonton’s Marshall Lawrence and Paul Kype and Texas Flood, mainly because I organized it.
I thought it was amazing.
Blues rocker Marshall Lawrence never gets the turnout he deserves in Lethbridge, though he had a full house rocking until midnight, when everybody mostly cleared out to either go home or to go to the metal after-party at the Slice.
Blues music itself never seems to get the turnout it deserves in Lethbridge, though we had some excellent local blues shows including excellent shows from Paul Kype and Texas Flood and a couple different versions of Papa King and his band.
The Lethbridge Jazz Festival brought in some excellent acts including Amos Garrett who I unfortunately missed on June 11. They also brought back the amazing Jack Semple as well as the Polyjesters, whose show I did catch.
And The Lethbridge Folk Club has a good ear for the blues as well bringing in Michael Jerome Browne to the Moose Hall, April 28 to wind up their season as they cancelled the Ben Sures trio who was supposed to finish off the last season in May. Montreal based Browne played delta blues on several unusual instruments including a banjo made out of a squash gourd.
These were among the best blues shows I caught which actually had good crowds. Unfortunately I went to a lot more where I was one of the few people in attendance.
Worse than playing for no people is playing for people who aren’t paying attention.
So I was disappointed to hear the crowd chattering through Morgan Davis’s Oct. 17 great set of stories, delta blues and lots of humour at the Owl Acoustic Lounge.
That was the standard for the Owl though they moved their stage to dead centre of the room in May. Calgary indie rock band Go For the Eyes broke in the new stage, May 23 with Secret Broadcast for one of many great shows they playing in Lethbridge this year. One of those shows was Oct. 8 at the Slice with an excellent Regina band Indigo Joseph, who’s set was impressive show if only because the variety of influences they covered including French folk to garage rock and pop music.
Sometime the lines of communication break down and I think a show was cancelled when it really wasn’t. So luckily I stopped by the Owl for a beer after my radio show on May 24 to hear the Rockies — one several great bands breaking out of interior B.C. this year including the Wild.
The Rockies show was decidedly not cancelled but it was acoustic and amazing because much of one set was a lengthy jam on Sublime’s 1997 hit “ What I Got” which included 20 different songs more or less from all over the ’90s from the Spice Girls to Bon Jovi and even the theme to the Fresh Prince of Bel Aire.
The Wild were one band I was sad I missed, but had to because they were competing with Steve Earle and his band, June 30. But I got to Scores in time to hear the Wild’s new hit “The Roadhouse” and a massive jam on “Fight For your Right to Party” One Bad Son took the stage for one of excellent Lethbridge shows they played this year.
They also opened for Australian rockers Airbourne.
Alt country and country music is almost always popular in Lethbridge and this year was no exception. I actually went to see a couple country shows at the Enmax this year, though I didn’t usually enjoy shows there as much as I do in smaller venues.
But I was pleased to catch Top 40 Canadian country star Dean Brody on his Crop Circles tour. He had a lot of fans and played all of his hits like “Dirt” and “People Know You By Your First Name.” So he played that and turned the Enmax into a kitchen party by letting his band shine on a variety of unusual instruments including tuba.
I enjoyed a lot of smaller country shows this year.
A good show which is almost ready for a bigger stage was an excellent pop country double bill with Autumn Hill and the lovely and talented Kira Isabella who beamed all the way through her set at Average Joes, Nov. 4 sounding like a young Shania Twain. People like their pop influenced country music so the show was packed which was a sad contrast as Petunia was playing at the Slice the same night. Petunia brings country right to his roots right to the yodelling, stories and acoustic guitar so it was disappointing to say the least that barely anybody was there to see him. He played here several times this year.
My go to guy for country is Fred Eaglesmith who usually plays Lethbridge once a year. I always look forward to his humour and of course his songs, so I was very disappointed that his Geomatic Attic show at the Lethbridge College Barn was cancelled, Oct. 15.
A couple of other excellent roots/ country shows also happened at the Owl Acoustic Lounge including Devon Coyote who is always a great to see and Saskatoon’s Zachery Lucky who brought country to the acoustic guitar and steel guitar roots, Dec. 17.
People also like their indie rock and pop music so there was plenty of that as well.
once again Average Joes had some of the best as promoter Todd Lacharite brought in a great double bill of the always popular Said the Whale and Tokyo Police Club on Nov. 9. Said the Whale pretty much dominated that night. In a similar even, USS and Mother Mother tore up Average Joes, Dec. 2 with toe tapping melodies and quirky lyrics.
Not to be outdone, the Slice also had some excellent pop and indie rock with Rend and Isobel Trigger standing out, Oct. 2.
On the more rock end of things, JPNSGRLS also stood out at the Slice, June 2014 though they had shamefully few people there to experience it. While I don’t get to a lot of rap shows, Madchild always stands out as he did again on Feb. 14 at Studio 54. His other group Swollen Members are also a lot of fun as they also returned to Lethbridge this year. I caught their April 29 show with Animal Nation, April 29.
The other excellent rap show I caught was Can She Kick It, which featured several female rappers performing at the Army and Navy Club, April 12.
The Slice usually has most of my favourite shows especially for roots and blues music.
I was very impressed to see Edmonton rockabilly influenced band the Fuzz Kings play, Aug. 8. and it is always a pleasure to see Danny Michel pack the Slice as he did , Nov. 24 with a stripped down show full of stories, songs and jokes.
the other cool world music group I caught was Edmonton reggae band Tasman Jude who rocked the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Nov. 12.They will be back in Lethbridge this week to play a house party, Jan. 8.
And last but not least it is always great to see old friends playing Lethbridge like Tom Savage and particularly Romi Mayes who played her usual amazing show with The Perpetrators’ Jay Nowicki for her birthday on April 18.
The Perpetrators themselves returned to rock the Slice with Hound Dog Taylor inspired blues on Aug. 13.