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Electric Eye Music Festival 2 creates community of eclectic entertainment

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The Electric Eye Music Festival has their eye on expansion for their second year, yet tip their hats to a pretty big inspiration — Mammoth Cave which held a similar festival back in 2009.
“We’re expecting 1,000 people people going through all of the venues,” predicted Electric Eye co-organizer Eric Sharp.


 The Electric Eye Music Festival grows from one day to three, May 7-9 as bands from Vancouver to Regina will be performing at venues all over the city.


 The event opens with Calgary songwriter Chad Van Gaalen and Viet Cong, featuring former members of popular Calgary band Women plus Lethbridge/ Calgary garage rock band Fist City who Kick things off at the German Canadian Club, May 7.
“Last year was so successful, it lead us to believe we could go bigger and better,” said co-organizer Eric Sharp who said getting Chad Van Gaalen and Viet Cong inspired the organizers to make it a three day event.


“We approached Chad and Viet Cong, but the only day they could come was Thursday. We were only going to do Friday and Saturday. So we booked him and then he got nominated for a Juno for his CD Shrink Dust,” Sharp said.


“I don’t know if we were surprised (by last year’s success) but were definitely pleased people came out to support it,” he said adding he is pleased to have Viet Cong on the bill as well  as they are starting to make a name for themselves.
In addition to close to 40 different bands playing, there are several other new events including a two art installations and film screenings at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, a vintage market at the Army and Navy Veterans Hall, May 9 and a comedy showcase at Two Guys and A Pizza Place, May 8.


“We have great venues for comedy like the Owl, so we’re featuring some comedy. We have three Edmonton comics and a local guy Solly,” Sharp said adding he is pleased with the lineup.


“ We have this great pop punk band from Vancouver called Soft Serve. And we have a shoegaze band Living Hour from Winnipeg and Shooting Guns who were here last year. Then we have something different with Snake River, who are a country psychedelic band.
Local sculptor Russell Jensen will be installing a piece at the SAAG from Wednesday through Sunday while Calgary artists collective 81,82,83 have a multi-panel exhibit to be installed at the Slice and the Owl Acoustic Lounge.


There will also be family friendly events including the afternoon family jam at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, May 9 and a showcase of bands from Lethbridge record label Norwegian Blue.


There are a few familiar faces from last year including Fist City, Advertisement, The Ruby Plumes, The yeah Dads, An Ant and An Atom from Lethbridge and Terra from Medicine Hat plus Saskatoon's Shooting Guns, but organizers wanted to feature acts that they haven’t featured before.
Ryan Grieve gets to play with three different bands on three different days  — Fist City, Birch Barks and Advertisement.


 He begins on opening night on drums with Calgary/ Lethbridge band Fist City on ay 7 at the German Canadian Club.
“They cast a big net. We’re still trying to figure out how to describe ourselves,” Grieve said noting he will be going to Europe again with that band in June.


 After that show he will be playing drums at the  the Slice with local punk/ garage rock trio Advertisement.
 He is excited to play three very different styles of music with the three different bands in three different  venues.
“ Birch Barks are normally a two piece electronic duo, but they’ll be having six or seven people on stage (at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, May 9),” he said adding it isn’t a challenge to play many different styles of music.

“I was very happy Birch Barks asked me. It’s fun to switch styles,” he said.

 


“ Going from Birch barks to  Advertisement is like night and day. Birch Barks is very synth and pop while advertisement is very post punk,” he said adding he is even more excited to see some of the other acts playing like Edmonton garage rock band the Tee Tahs, Saskatoon’s Shooting Guns and their sometimes tour mates Regina metal band Black Thunder.


“I like their riffs,” he said.
“I’m also running a venue,” Grieve said adding he will be making sure things go smoothly for  the May 8 show at Blueprint featuring local band Internet Love and Sparkle Blood, which features former Lethbridge residents.


 Grieve enjoyed playing last year’s debut of Electric Eye with Fist City and Advertisement.”
“There are so many reasons I like the Electric Eye,” he said.


“I’ll start with the sense of community. It brings local businesses with local bands and bands from out of town. It pulls everyone together,” he said.
“It puts Lethbridgee on the map. There's a variety of acts. There's hip hop groups, roots acts, punk, indie rock — it’s diverse,” Grieve said.


The reclusive  Chad VanGaalen is excited to introduce his new band, multi-instrumentalist Ryan Bourne and drummer Chris Dadge.
 This will be the first time we’ve played live together. So I’m very excited about that,” he said.


“ And the guys from Viet Cong may get up and play a few songs with me,” he said adding he has been staying close to home taking care of his two daughters and working on animation and new music. He got a Juno nomination for best Alternative album for last year’s record “Shrink Dust.”
 Van Gaalen doesn’t tour very often or play live much at all as he’d rather stay home taking care of his family, working on music and animation.
“I’d rather be at home than in a van,” he said.


 He won’t be able to stick around for the rest of the Electric Eye Music Festival.
“ I’ve got to drive straight home to get my girls to school. I’m trying to be as little of a deadbeat as possible,” he chuckled over the phone.


 A lot of volunteers are involved with the Electric Eye Music Festival.

Fist City is among local acts playing the Electric Eye Music Festival this year. Photo by Richard Amery
“We have a core team and about 30 volunteers,” Sharp said.


“I hope people will come to the festival and have a great time and discover something new,” he said.
Sharp said they drew a lot of inspiration from Paul Lawton’s now defunct  Mammoth Cave Records and Mammoth Cave Fest, which they held at Henotic the old Firehall over the May long weekend in 2009 which featured dozens of  bands.


“ We hope to keep the spirit alive,” he said.


 Grieve agreed.
“I was playing with Endangered Ape (one of Mammoth Cave founder Paul Lawton’s bands) at  Mammoth Cave. So it’s nice to see that spirit especially now  Mammoth Cave is defunct,” Grieve said.

A version of this story appears in the May 6, 2015 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times

 

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 06 May 2015 10:32 )  
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