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Wide Skies Music Festival features fabulous talent

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The third annual Wide Skies music Festival outside of Southminster United Church and Casa was blessed with beautiful weather, great music and an attentive audience,Tuesday and Wednesday, July 30 and 31.Steve Marriner blowing harp with Harry Manx at Wide Skies Music Festival, July 31. Photo by Richard Amery

Organizer Mike Spencer always has a good ear for the music he brings to the Geomatic Attic. So he brought back some familiar faces.

Harry Manx at Wide Skies Music Festival, July 30. Photo by Richard Amery
I seem to recall seeing west coast soul/ roots band Carmannah, but can’t place where.
 I arrived in the middle of their opening set outside Southminster Church, where the road was blocked off and two stages were set up, Tuesday, July 30.

 Carmannah played a really laid back set of roots music dripping with R and B and soul, that was stultifyingly beautiful, and marked by gorgeous multi-part vocal harmonies. Though they cut loose near the end  for a spirited fiddle powered jam.

 I missed Megan Brown and George Fowler’s opening set on the side/tweener stage.
 But local blues rock band the Steve Keenan Band dominated the two tweener sets, while the other musicians were setting up.

 The Steve Keenan band played an array of upbeat blues and country tinged originals, breaking out a few blues classics like BB King’s  “The Thrill is Gone” and other well known modern blues hits like Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s “Blue on Black.”

 It is always a treat when Danny Michel returns to Lethbridge. He easily held the crowd’s attention with just him, his guitar and a lot of stories.

Musically, he stuck to his most popular more exotic songs including “Feather, Fur and Fin,” “Tennessee Tobacco,” “Whale of a Tale,” “Wish Willy,” and “ Who’s Going to Miss You When you’re Gone.”
 He sang in an appealing, lilting, tenor voice and a really tender feel on the guitar.

 He was also performing a ticketed event, later on, a songwriters circle with Cousin Harley and Sofia Viola,” which I missed.Carmanah playing Wide Skies Music Festival, July 30. Photo by Richard Amery
 But I was mostly there for Vancouver rockabilly trio Cousin Harley.


Cousin Harley’s Paul Pigat at Wide Skies Music Festival, July 30. Photo by Richard Amery
 They stayed old school rockabilly. I didn’t even hear one song from their most recent CD  “Blue Smoke, a tribute to Merle Travis.”

 Nonetheless, there was plenty of twang and hot picking from frontman Paul Pigat as they played the most spirited show of the festival.

  I missed most of the next night’s event due to being on stage with Shakespeare in the Park. So I missed another set by Sofia  Viola, who by most accounts, pretty much stole the show.

Danny Michel playing wide Skies Music Festival, July 30. Photo by Richard Amery
 I was there to hear Harry Manx and MonkeyJunk’s Steve Marriner, expecting the hear music from their most recent CD “ Manx Marriner Mainline: Hell Bound for Heaven.” I may have missed that, but caught a bad case of great blues from the duo, which mostly focused on Manx’s rumbling baritone and stories.

 Marriner added lead guitar and some hot harp solos, while Manx Plucked a couple of different guitars including a cigar box guitar set up as a lap steel, and of course, his Mohan Veena, which he brought out for the encore of “Crazy Love.”

 The Steve Keenan Band at Wide Skies Music Festival, July 30. Photo by Richard AmeryThey played a beautifully mellow version of Bruce Springsteens “ I’m on Fire,” which Manx prefaced with a long story about playing it at a Bruce Springsteen tribute show with the Boss himself sitting in the front row, and who, afterwards, told Manx how much he liked  the version.

 They also played some blues classics like “ I Can’t Be Satisfied,” which Manx introduced by talking about learning how to play the blues as a boy.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat EditorMegan Thiessen dancing to Harry Manx and Steve Marriner at Wide Skies Music Festival. Photo by Richard Amery
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 01 January 2020 14:39 )  
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