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Lethbridge Music Festival features lots of local music and classic rock

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The Lethbridge  Music festival is more than just about reliving the favourite musical moments of your lives with Tom Cochrane, Triumph’s Rik Emmett and Kenny Shields and Streetheart at Spitz Stadium, July 23.Kenny Shields and Streetheart return to Lethbridge for the ethbridge Music Festival. Photo by Richard Amery
“ We have three headliners this year and we wanted more variety in our opening acts,” said organizer Broc Higginson who wanted to move the festival to the middle of summer this year in hopes of avoiding bad weather.

“ We wanted to find the right line up, and we’re working around the Bulls’ season and we were able to get Tom Cochrane with Red Rider so it worked out,” he said,
“I’m excited to see Rik Emmett play guitar and Kenny Shields and Streetheart are a fun band,” he enthused, adding while the festival features headliners Tom Cochrane, plus Kenny Shields of Streetheart, it also features a lot of local talent.

It ranges from the country pop stylings of Alyssa McQuaid and Coyote Junction, to Metallica tribute band Damage Inc., local metal band Tyrants of Chaos and possibly the last show of local blues band Zojo Black and up and coming talent the Cody Hall band.

“ Alyssa McQuaid and Coyote Junction are more on the side of pop and country and classic rock. Zojo Black is a great blues rock band. We have a couple of hard rock bands with Tyrants of Chaos and Damage Inc. and the Cody Hall band are a new band. He has a great voice. They have more of a classic rock sound but also contemporary,” Higginson said.

 He said tickets are selling well with pre-sales selling out. He is pleased to welcome local brewery Coulee Brewing as a major sponsor as well.
“And we have two extra hours of music this year and 11 bands,” he said.

Rik Emmett is excited to play his many solo hits and Triumph hits at the Lethbridge Music Festival.
“I always considered myself a songwriter first then a singer then a guitarist,” said Emmett, who brings his solo band of guitarist Dave Dunlop, drummer Paul Delong and bassist Steve Skingley to Lethbridge to play the Lethbridge Music festival at Spitz Stadium, July 23.

 Triumph had numerous hits in the ’70s and ’80s including “ Hold On,” “Fight The Good Fight,” “Lay It On The Line” and “Magic Power” to name a few.
 Since leaving Triumph in 1988, he released two popular power pop style solo albums including “ Absolutely,” which featured the  hits “ Saved By Love” and “ Big Lie”  and “ When A Heart Breaks.” After that another popular solo CD “Ipso Facto”  featured the  hits “ Bang On” and “ Out of the Blue.”

Since then, he took an about face to release a variety of CDs showcasing his love for jazz, fusion, swing and classical music.
“I had to get all of that out of my system,” said the loquacious Emmett, who also teaches songwriting and Music Business Directed Studies with the Humber College jazz program.
 He is currently working on a new solo CD, which goes back to his rock and roll roots and features a variety of special guests including Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson as well as his former  band mates in Triumph— drummer Gil Moore and bassist / keyboardist Mike Levine.

“There are a lot of rumours around on the internet that they are on three tracks, but they are only on one of them,” Emmett said.
 “There was a lot of bad blood there and negativity when I left. A lot of people never realized Triumph was a band with two singers— me and Gil. That was the band’s identity. In my solo shows I play the songs I like to play, which are usually the ones that I sing,” he said.


The trio reconciled in 2007 with the help of a persistent music promoter who runs Canadian Music Week and played a couple of shows with them as they were inducted into  the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
“He helped us rekindle our friendship and our relationship. We played a couple of shows with Gil,  But he said that was enough for him,” Emmett said, adding he is glad to be friends with them again and recorded the new CD is Moore’s studio Metalworks.

“We‘re really good friends now. There’s no issues,” he said.
He noted he wants people to focus on the music.
“A lot of guys get into the music business  to be in show business, but I didn’t want to be in show business, I wanted to be in the music business. Eric Clapton is my role model, he just wants to be on stage and play guitar,” he said.

Tom Cochrane always enjoys playing Alberta.
“ It’s like home to us. In the lean years of Red Rider, in the early years, we would always come to Southern Alberta and audiences would be so supportive. We’ve had a lot of great gigs  there. One show Spider (Sinnaeve, bassist) jumped on my back and I had back spasms. I had to be carried off the stage. People thought it was part of the show. I was trying to lift him over my head and I got back spasms. Luckily I had a few days off before our show in Edmonton, so it was all right,” Cochrane reminisced en route to his cabin on the Georgian bay for a few days of relaxation before getting back to work.
 He is pleased his music resonates with fans as much as it has.
“Music is a pretty powerful thing, it’s like God’s gift to us,” he said.

“Music affects people. My daughter and her fiancée are both painters and they listen to music when they paint,” he said.
“ My favourite thing is when people come up to me and tell me what a song meant to them, about how it helped them get through a tough time,” he said.

 He noted people associate music with a specific moment in their lives. he feels the same way.
“I remember in 1979, the first time I heard ‘White Hot’ on the radio. We were touring and me and Robbie (Baker drummer) drew the short straw and had to drive the tour van  out west to a show in Vancouver in the winter,” he reminisced.

He is excited to tour again with Red Rider.
“ Usually it’s me and Jonesy (bassist Jeff Jones) and Kenny (Ken Greer, keyboards/guitar). We’ve been back together since 2003. This year has been quite busy with 30 shows, last year we did 40 shows because we had the new album (Take it Home), but we’re planning a lot more for the ‘Mad MadAlyssa McQuaid and Coyote Junction are among the many local acts on the bill for the Lethbridge Music Festival. Photo by Richard Amery World 25 tour. We’ll be playing the album all the way through and the hits like ‘Lunatic Fringe,” “ Big League,” and all of the non-negotiables like ‘Human Race,’” he said.
“ This show (July 23) will be a mixed bag, maybe some acoustic stuff and the non-negotiables. It depends on the crowd, and some of the songs that never became hits. Lately I’ve been really jazzing on ‘Ocean Blue.’ And sometimes the band will go on a seven minute groove on a song and I’ll just ride the wave,” he said.

He has been pleasantly  surprised to have such a long career.
“There’s not many Canadian artists who have. There’s Lightfoot and Cohen and Neil Young. But I never set out to have a career in music. I’ve always taken it one step at a time. I always thought I’d just record a couple albums and have  some fun and that lead to the next one,” he said.
“I still feel pretty young, like I’m still 15 and playing songs in the garage.”

Streetheart guitarist Jeff Neill can’t rave enough about Streetheart’s fans who he credited for the band’s popularity.
 They’re gold. I can’t thank them enough,” said Neill from his Vancouver home.
“The fans and radio. I can’t thank them enough. When Streetheart stopped recording in 1983, our fans kept us going.
“ I live in Vancouver and there are three or four radio stations who play Streetheart. I can hear Streetheart every day,” he said.

Kenny Shields and Streetheart play Lethbridge pretty much every year.
“We usually play Average Joes the day before Canada Day, but we also play big festivals. I like playing them both. The bar shows are more intimate. I like to be able to see the whites of their eyes. At the outdoor shows you have the fans in the front row and you can see them,” he said, adding the connection between them is most important.
“The fans are everything. They are the show.”
The Lethbridge Music Festival runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Tickets are $88.50 plus fees
 9:30 PM- 11:00 PM   | Tom Cochrane and Red Rider

7:30 PM- 9:00 PM   | Rik Emmett of Triumph

5:30 PM- 7:00 PM  |  Kenny Shields and Streetheart

4:00 PM- 5:00 PM  |  Damage Incorporated

2:30 PM- 3:30 PM  |  Tyrants of Chaos

1:00 PM- 2:00 PM  |  Zojo Black

11:45 AM- 12:45 PM  |  Alyssa McQuaid and Coyote Junction

11:00 AM- 11:30 PM  |  Cody Hall Band

A version of this story appears in the July  20, 2016  edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
Last Updated ( Saturday, 23 July 2016 10:13 )  
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