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L.A. Beat

Banjo, bagpipes and dust devils at South Country Fair

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I always seem to miss the nasty weather at South Country Fair,  so I missed the tiny tornado tat rolled through the fair grounds on Friday and was the talk of the town by the time I arrived at  the Fort Macleod Fish and Games Park, bright and early.The Johnny McCuig band at the South Country Fair. Photo by Richard Amery

The dust devil destroyed several tents and caused  a few minor injuries. So several people including CKUA  spent their Saturday morning jury rigging a tent to provide blessed shade for what would be a sweltering day of excellent music.
 Musically, bagpipes and banjo were the order of the day, with several of the acts adding them to their instrumental arsenal.

Lindsay bever and the 24th Street Wailers. Photo by Richard Amery
 Mayor Washboard Hank started jamming in the merch tent early before leading  a parade through the fair grounds, getting the few early risers to follow and sing along of “ when the Saints Go marching In” and “ Will the Circle be Unbroken” on the way back.

 I only caught a few acts from the “Sirens of Song” workshop featuring Mariel Buckley, Dana Sipos and Eliza Doyle, sharing songs and giving a quick preview of their individual sets later on in the weekend.
As I was ensconced comfortably in the CKXU tent, I enjoyed an intriguing mix of bluegrass, blues ,  quirky folk and roots music from Yukon based songwriter Gordie Tentrees and multi instrumentalist Jaxon Haldane, who played mandolin, banjo, a cigar box guitar and even the saw on a couple of tracks.

Jaxon Haldane playing a cigar box guitar with Gordie Tentrees. photo by Richard Amery
 They are always lots of fun. A highlight of their set was a cover of a Steve Poltz song called “Trade Donald Trump.”
 Tentrees told stories and played  dirty , acoustic blues.

The East Stage had a solid afternoon lineup. I only caught a touch of local jazz/ folk/ rock band the Junkman’s Quire, who were playing a little bit of reggae by the time I left the stage. Bluegrass was the order of the day for several acts this weekend.
 Vancouver’s Viper Central played an excellent set of pop, rock and gathered around a single microphone for several traditional bluegrass music, showing off seller vocal harmonies. “Gold Mine” was a highlight of that set.
Edmonton based  Joe Nolan and his band  the Dogs played a set of more indie pop and rock like a mix of Rob Thomas/Matchbox 20 and Los Lonely Boys mixed with a touch of alt country added for variety.
 That set also featured some pretty harmonized guitar.

 The South Stage cooked as usual.
 Washboard Hank, Sweet Mountain Muriel, Gordie Tentrees and Scott Nolan played  a touching workshop tribute to Willie P Bennett. So they sang the songs and  told stories about the prominent mandolinist/ harmonica player/songwriter who used to play with Fred Eaglesmith before passing away in 2008, and who inspired the band Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, who named their band after one of Bennett’s songs.

A univorn on stilts at South Country Fair. Photo by Richard AmeryViper Central playing bluegrass music. Photo by Richard Amery
 South country Fair Songwriting competition winner Carter Felker wasn’t able to play his slot due to another gig, so got his friend Ari from Chicken-like birds to play his songs instead.
 Most of the night was all about bagpipes, beginning with Spencer Murray and PipeSlinger, who plate more traditional Celtic rock in their set of toe-tapping banjo, bagpipes, Irish pipes and a lot more to get the enthusiastic audience on their feet.
A revamped Lindsay Beaver and the 24th Street Wailers played an exceptional set of party blues and swing music.

 The Halifax born, Austin bred  quintet  took the audience down to Texas with intense  blues jams and relentless rhythm. They definitely sound like they have been based in Austin, channelling blues rockers like the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
 Beaver stood behind the drums, pounded out unstoppable beats while singing,  with her plaintive, yet powerful pipes, a set of primarily brand new material with a couple older tracks like “Evil.”
 One of many highlights was “Shake.”
I caught most of  the set from bagpipe rockers The Johnny McCuaig Band
 They sounded like ’80s pop metal mixed with bagpipes.
 So there were plenty of guitar pyrotechnics and  shout along choruses.  Frontman Johnny McCuaig’s  pleasant tenor sounded eerily reminiscent of Streetheart’s Kenny Shields, who passed away this week.
They played  plenty of music from their most recent, 2015 CD “ Hold Fast” and introduced a brand new song. I w had to leave early as they were playing a rollicking  version of AC DC’s “ Long Way To The Top (If You Want to Rock and Roll).” So I unfortunately missed Bad Pop, who ended the night.
 If you are going to the South Country Fair today, you are in for a treat.
 The day begins with Blackfoot Medicine at 11 a.m., There is also an excellent workshop with Sam Tudor, Scott Nolan plus Ben Rogers and the Bloodred Yonder at 12:30 p.m. on the south stage.
 Saskatchewan’s Eliza Mary Doyle  formerly of the Cracker Cats and who was in Lethbridge with the Dead South, plays her own set after that.
 Winnipeg’s Scott Nolan is sure to inject a whole lot of energy into the afternoon  at 3:15 p.m.
A great dance fuelled workshop closed the stage with Lindsay Beaver and the 24th Street Wailers, Joe Nolan and Calgary’s Copperhead.
Over on the East Stage, Vancouver folk/ bluegrass duo Chicken-like Bird play their own set.
There is an excellent workshop focussing on duets featuring Mayor Washboard hank and Sweet Mountain muriel, host Maureen Chambers and mark Sadlier Brown  and Bev Bruce at 2:15 and Calgary troubadour Mariel Buckley finishes things off at 3:15.

 South stage
11 a.m. Blackfoot  Medicine speaks
 12:30 p.m. Words on Words Workshop with  Joe Nolan and the Dogs at South Country Fair. Photo by Richard Amery
Ben Rogers & the Bloodred Yonder (host), Scott Nolan, Sam Tudor
 1:30 p.m. Eliza Mary Doyle (bluegrass/folk)’ hoe down.  Her strong, but wonderfully frayed voice belts out captivating tunes and harmonies.  Everything about Eliza Doyle’s music rings of an authenticity that takes you straight to the beating heart of folk and bluegrass music. 
2:50 poet TBA
3:15: Scott Nolan (Folk/ Rock) recorded by A-list Americana all-stars including Hayes Carll, Mary Gauthier, Watermelon Slim and Corin Raymond. Additionally, he has recently produced albums for William Prince, Lynne Hanson and Watermelon.
4:20 Dance  til You Drop workshop with  24TH St. Wailers (host), Joe Nolan, Copperhead
 East Stage
noon: Lil Jill's Big Grass Jam
1 p.m.: Chicken Like Birds (Folk)
2:05: let's Duet workshop with  Mayor Washboard Hank, Mountain Muriel, Maureen Chambers (host), Mark Sadlier Brown, Bev Bruce
 3:20 p.m. Mariel Buckley (Country)
 Folk / Roots / Alt-Country / Outlaw Country

— by Richard Amery, L.a. Beat editor

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 25 July 2017 13:52 )  
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