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Great memories as a perfect storm forces closure of Average Joes

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Average Joes has been the latest business casualty of Covid 19. While any local business closure hurts, Average Joes really smarts because Average Joes was more than just a sports bar, of which there are many in Lethbridge. It was the only sports bar to regularly double as a mid sized music venue, which featured up and coming rock, country, pop and alternative acts, not toThe Chevelles were pretty much Average Joes’ house band. Photo by Richard Amery mention many great tribute acts. A lot of people are sharing their favourite memories photos and videos on a new Facebook group called Average Joes Sports Bar Lethbridge Concert Memories which brings back a lot for me. 


Average Joes was the great mid sized venue that Lethbridge desperately needed and needs even more so now as both the overall population as well as the number of music fans are increasing.

I remember many a night I ended up deaf, blind and drunk at an Average Joes show, and a few I don’t quite remember.


 Average Joes announced the closure on social media, June 24, blaming a perfect storm of Covid resulting in the complete elimination of concerts, entertainment events and sporting events which attracted their main client base and lack of students.


“After much consideration, efforts, plans that fell through, pending sale of our rented home, Covid closure and many other impacts... Average Joe's will be keeping the doors closed. 
New ownership took over February 1st with all the best intentions and great potential but the unexpected provincial closure due to covid has cost more than expected & has stopped university students visits, sporting events, concerts and entertainment bookings, large gatherings and many others that affects our day to day business model. Lonny, AJs owner, has not decided whether when/if he will open at another location.
 It is an extremely hard decision to make considering he came out of a nice retirement in AZ to take on this opportunity. If anyone could have made AJs fabulous again, it would have been him. Enter covid and the story is different.
Thank you ALL for your support and patronage. Your kindness and hopes for us to reopen. We will miss you and our home sweet bar home,” according to their Facebook page


 Cal Toth, Kate LaRoque and Anna McBryan held last online Dueling Pianos concert, June 24. Fittingly it was a fundraiser for beloved doorman Gus Byam, who is recovering from a heart attack. The GoFund Me campaign continues until July 11.

Average Joes was the home base for local cover band the Chevelles. The popular classic rockers held court at Average Joes pretty much every month, usually playing benefits and fundraisers for a plethora of local organizations and sports teams.


Average Joes had a lot of inspirational moments. Big Sugar and Grady (both featuring Big Sugar frontman Gordie Johnson) shows were a couple memorable highlights.

I remember Mayor Rajko Dodic getting up to play Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In the Free World” with Hollerado on their Meet the Mayors Tour in September 2011. Dodic tried to duplicate it when Hollerado returned at another venue the next year but the magic wasn’t quite the same.


 Average Joes was a fascinating contrast of jocks, sports fans, heavy drinkers and music lovers, though all of those were not necessarily mutually exclusive. On nights of big NHL games, Average Joes had the option of closing the garage door in the middle of the venue to allow music fans to have their own space without competing with the game. Though that sometimes didn’t happen.

Mayor Dodic jamming with Hollerado. Photo by Richard Amery I remember ’90s rapper Everlast glaring at the sound and lighting booth until they turned the stage lights down back in September 2012. About a week before that, 54 40 frontman Neil Osborne, looking distant and hypnotized by the television sets playing NHL games in the front half of the bar, opened up the Canadian classic rockers’ set by gently asking staff to turn the TVs off while the band played, which they eventually did.

 A lot of bands that started playing smaller venues like the Slice including Hollerado and One Bad Son played Average joes beforemaking it to the Enmax Centre

Others, like the Wild!, Monster Truck and the motorleague moved on from the Slice  to play Average Joes. A venue like  Average Joes was a great opportunity to  see great bands on the cusp of making it big.

Like a lot of Lethbridge shows, attendance was hit and miss. Luckily they were usually able to draw a crowd, even on off nights like a Sunday. Some of my favourite shows happened at Average Joes on Sundays.


I’ll always have fond memories of Average Joes especially when Rob Mereska was owner.
 Shows always started on time, and while they were often way too loud and with too many lights shining into the audience’s eyes, they were always a good time.
Average Joes hosted a great contrast of music styles.


 Australian rocker the Lazys played the Slice for barely any people and returned to play Average Joes for a lot more  people most of who were fascinated by guitarist Mat Morris playing a solo, standing on the bar, which he did at the Slice not more than a year before.

While everyone has their own unique memories of Average Joes, one of my favourites was a massive jam between the Trews and the Glorious Sons playing  “Poor Old Broken Hearted Me” and “Mama.”

 Trews shows at Average Joes have been among my favourite shows in Lethbridge.
Average Joes was a great place to relive those misspent care free days of youth with lots of older acts coming back from the ’70s, ’80s,’90s and today.
 They also featured modernacts like Australian rockers Airborne and lots of ’90s rock like Buck Cherry. Even without original frontman Shannon Hoon, Blind Melon played a fantastic show at Average Joes with Eve 6, June 22, 2018.

Country star Dallas Smith took a brief break from bigger shows at the Enmax to reuniting with his ’90s rock band Default at Average Joes.

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And don’t forget the classic rock. Prism played their hits pretty much once a year at Average Joes.


 Everyone from Harlequin, Streetheart, the Killer Dwarves and Kick Axe, just to name a few, made a point of making Average Joes their Lethbridge tour stop. I remember a few members of Harlequin blowing off steam after their Whoop Up Days performance by getting on stage to jam with the Chevelles, playing one of their regular gigs there.


Don’t forget the country music. Canadian country stars like Tebey, Gord Bamford, George Canyon and Aaron Pritchett, regularly made Average Joes part of their tour. Pritchett’s son Jordan Pritchett even played with his own band on the Outlaws and Outsider’s Tour.


 I remember Cory Marquardt playing his hit “Being Stupid on a Smart Phone” on that tour.
Pritchett, Jordan Pritchett’s band King and Cash and Marquardt also had a big classic rock jam after their individual sets were over during that Outlaws and Outsiders trio.
One of my favourite Average Joes country shows was Shooter Jennings performing with his dad Waylon Jennings’ band, back in October 2015.


 You can’t forget the comedy. Yuk Yuks Comedy made their home at Average Joes every month. They also had visits from bigger names like The Trailer Park Boys and even Pauly Shore.
 And what about tribute acts? There were too many to count, with bands covering everything from Metallica, Motley Crüe, Kiss, several AC DC tributes, notably Who Made Who and a couple quality Pink Floyd tributes like Pink  4reud.
 An excellent Eagles tribute Hotel California played on my birthday last year, it was one of five shows I had to cover that night.


 So many memories and so little time. It is truly a shame to lose a venue like Average Joes.
Their closure should be an impetus to support the remaining venues who feature live music including the Slice and Owl Acoustic Lounge and arts organizations like the Geomatic Attic and Lethbridge Folk Club who bring in acts.

Lethbridge has an amazing music scene. It seems pretty much everyone plays an instrument of some sort. New bands crop up every day, but they need a place to play. Average Joes was great for offering up and coming local musicians like Daylan Delaney, Breanne Urban and Southern Flyer and Jolene Draper and the Inquisitive Few, opportunities to open for bigger names like like Julian Austin and classic rockers Sweet.

Shows are slowly, but surely beginning again, so it is essential to support them while we have them, otherwise there won’t be any shows to support.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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Last Updated ( Friday, 03 July 2020 20:14 )  
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