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Angel Forrest and The Last Waltz wicked at Whoop Up Days

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I spent most of last week on my annual Mulegrimmage  (my annual trek south to see one of my favourite bands Govt. Mule, this time in Colorado at the Red Rocks  Amphitheatre outside of Denver), so I missed most of Whoop Up Days. But I rushed back early to take in three big events, Saturday, Aug. 27.

Angel Forrest belts out the blues at Whoop Up Days. Photo by Richard Amery
 I caught most of Whoop Up Days’ big blues and roots night at Exhibition Park, Aug. 27, featuring Montreal blues singer Angel Forrest. This was the show to catch for me. I heard Monster Truck and Kim Mitchell put on excellent shows the previous couple of days. As did the Standstills , who had barely any people there, but perhaps people were burned out or perhaps they were at the other big events.

 But Angel Forrest and rhythm guitarist Denis Coulombe and guitar whiz Ricky Paquette put on a hell of a show, especially for an acoustic show. I really want to see them plug in and turn it up in a dirty, dingy, dark blues club. But they brought that spirit to the big stage.

 Forrest’s massive, raspy, soulful, gravelly voice resurrected the spirit of Janis Joplin, but was also reminiscent of another one of my favourite female blues belters Rita Chiarelli. So I knew I was going to enjoy it right there as did the 80 some people trickling in throughout the show, who were justifiably impressed by her massive voice and Paquette’s hot guitar playing. Denis Coulombe sang background harmonies while holding down the rhythm.
Forrest, strutting around the stage like a boss in a faux fur cloak and long, bright red blouse and torn jeans, kicked off her set with a smoking version of “Piece of My Heart, then pretty much focussed on her latest CD “Angel’s 11” which features some of Quebec’s best guitarists and Ontario’s Steve Strongman and Steve Hill, beginning with a highlight “All the Way.”

 Paquette effortlessly picked up all of their solos and of course shone on his own track from the CD, the sexy and sassy “Hold On Tight  (Mr. I’m All Right).”
Another highlight was “Mother Tongue Blues,” the title track from her previous, groundbreaking album. She delved way back into her extensive back catalogue for a touch of gospel and more folk inspired music. She also sang a tortured cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were here.”

Johnny Maxx jams on Who Do You Love with the Last Waltz. Photo by Richard Amery
 But there was also a lot of great covers including “House of the Rising Sun,” and a hot jam on Robert Johnson’s “Walking Blues,” which the band made their own with Forrest trying some jazz style scatting in between her own throat shredding vocals an face melting screams, and Paquette playing a lot of wild guitar. Near the end of the set they embarked on a huge jam of Led Zeppelin songs, built around “Whole Lot of Love.”

 She wanted to commune with the crowd, so jumped off the stage and scaled the barrier to dance with a little girl in front of the stage, then wandered through the appreciative audience and jumped on a table or two to sing a solo.
 She wound down the set with a mournful cover of “Me and Bobby McGee.”

The headliners of the night were The Last Waltz: a Tribute to the Band, who were as good as their word, putting their own stamp on the Band’s many hits.
  Band leader and keyboardist Lance Anderson opened the show by dedicating the show to the three Band members who have passed on, Levon Helm, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel.

The nine piece band including a full horn section plus special guests, started strong with Levon Helm’s godson/ drummer Jerome Avis singing “Up on Cripple Creek.” His voice sounded awfully close to Helm.
 They followed it up with another hit “ Shape I’m In.”

 Guitarist Terry Blersh played a hit solo.
 Johnny Maxx, the first special guest of the night,  took centre stage to writhe, weave and howl and growl like Van Morrison for an old Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks’ song “Who Do you Love.”
 He clapped rhythmically and put on a  wicked show. But he only stayed for the one song, though he may have returned for another.
 But I had to leave to catch the second of the three big gigs of the night.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 07 September 2016 11:48 )  
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