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Helix still knows how to R-O-C-K

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The second half of  Canadian classic metal band Helix’s set at Average Joes, April 9 blew me away and took me back to my ’80s headbanging days of yore
Helix vocalist Brian Vollmer still has an impressive voice. Photo by Richard AmerySeeing all of the original members together again was an amazing experience as they sound great.

Singer Brian Vollmer still hits those high notes like nobody else and original guitarist Brent Doerner still has a knife edge sharp solos.
 I arrived in the middle of “Here Comes the Night,” one of Helix’s beloved lower tempo numbers. They played songs from throughout their career right from the early days right up to today and their latest CD, “VaHelix guitarists Brent Doerner and Kaleb Duck harmonize on a solo.
 Photo by Richard Amerygabond Bones”.

Vollmer  took a break while guitarist  Doerner took lead vocals and spoke about almost getting fired from playing the Alec Arms Hotel for not knowing any covers. He also spoke about releasing their first album independently in 1977, then sang their big hit from it ‘ Billy Oxygen.’

‘Heavy Metal Cowboys’ was another upbeat highlight as Vollmer donned a cowboy hat for it.
Throughout Doerner and new lead guitarist Kaleb Duck trades solos and played some wicked harmonies including quite a bit of Eddie Van Halen style fretboard tapping.
 But the hands down highlight was  when they played a harmonized version of the fanfare you usually at horse races,  as bassist Daryl Gray cried “Gentlemen start your engines.” 

The guitarists took centre stage and blew the headbanging crowd away who shouted along as they launched into their big hit ’Rock You.’
They were called back for an encore of ‘Monday Morning Meltdown’ from the new CD.

— By Richard Amery L.A. Beat Editor

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Fish&Bird lay down some ghostly folk music

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Small numbers didn’t deter  Victoria based roots quartet Fish& Bird, who played a short set at Henotic’s GCBC Lounge for about 10 people, April 12.Fish & Bird  set a ghostly groove April 12. Photo by Richard Amery
They showed just how many different sounds and styles you could make with a stand -up bass, a couple guitars, a banjo and a fiddle.
Thanks to the use of bows used not only on the bass  and fiddle, but banjo as well, the band had a ghostly aura and ethereal country vocals backed by haunting harmonies.
 They played some tracks from their latest CD ’Left Brain Blues’ from last year and also introduced the attentive audience to several new songs, ,one brand new  which they wrote in Nanton the night before and another really cool one which had inflections of jazz as well as a new “ghost song” which singer/banjo player and guitarist  Taylor Ashton said he’d always wanted to write because songs about ghosts are a common theme in folk music. He used a bow on his banjo to set a ghostly mood for the song.
 I was hoping they’d play longer, but they put on a fascinating show.
— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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Sensitive singer-songwriters Katz and Barber at the Slice

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It was laid back singer-songwriter night at the Slice, April 12. And surprisingly, especially for a dreary Monday night, an almost full house cheered on Peter Katz, Matthew Barber and Sheena Grobb, a late addition to the bill.
Grobb was a definite highlMatthew Barber took a spin on the Slice piano, April 12. Photo by 
Richard Ameryight, with her gorgeous Chantal Krevizuk meets Sarah McLachlan  with a touch of Fiona Apple voice. She only played three songs, but showed a lot of musical diversity, not to mention vocal range on them,  accompanying herself on piano, guitar and a cute pink harp.
 She talked of celebrating her 26th birthday in the United Kingdom then gave up the stage to Peter Katz who drew huge cheers from an attentive audience who were hanging on every word. He looked a bit shocked by all of the cheering, and shared stories about his songs and jokes about  Justin Bieber.
He displayed a more of a folk/ pop style of singing and his crystal clear tenor voice  was reminiscent of Rob Szabo.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 13 April 2010 16:25 ) Read more...

Good music for great causes

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As always, there are a lot of really cool shows happening in Lethbridge this week.
One of the highlights is sure to be a long awaited return of psychobilly band  Big John Bates and the Voo Doo Dollz who will be playing  Henotic with the Phantom Creeps, April 14.Joel Butler and Evan Van Reekum of the Moby Dicks. Photo by Richard Amery
The Geomatic Attic, fresh off of two spectacular sold out weekend shows with Joel Plaskett, have another gig this week. Juno Award winning Canadian world/ African musician the Mighty Popo is also performing on April 14. Tickets cost $30 for members, $32.50 for non-members, $35 at the door. That’s going to be a tough night to choose which gigs to go to as Victoria bluegrass/country trio the Gruff’s last tour stops in Lethbridge at the Slice on Wednesday as well.
The Slice brings back Billy Manzik, April 15. The Thunder Bay blues/roots musician has a killer new CD out.
Henotic also has a couple huge shows this week. Garage rockers  will be digging Calgary legends, the Forbidden Dimension, the Von Zippers and the Radians, April 16. For something more exotic,  Raghu Lokanathan and Matt Robinson will be playing upstairs in the GCBC Lounge.
 And numerous local musicians will be joining forces to help raise money for a new roller derby team, the Deathbridge Derby Dames, April 17. On the bill are  the Phantom Creeps, Smokestack Jacks, Lustre Creame, the Bastards and Silenced Youth. Smokestack Jacks kick things off at 9 p.m., followed by the Bastards at 10 p.m., Lustre Creame at 11 p.m., Silenced Youth at midnight and the Phantom Creeps at 1 a.m. Tickets are $10 from Henotic and Blueprint Entertainment.

There will also be a silent auction. Blueprint Records, which is a huge supporter of local music, is having a special record store day from 11 a.m to 6 p.m. on Saturday as well. In addition to good deals, several local bands will be playing including Evan Van Reekum, The Moby Dicks, the Record Holder and Withiddenoise throughout the afternoon.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 13 April 2010 12:00 ) Read more...

Spoon River to reflect the spirit of the Band this week

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The west coast version of Spoon River will be making their first foray into Alberta, including an April 16 stop at the Slice.
Spoon river plays the Slice this week. Photo by  Susan MossThe roots of the band, who have just released their debut CD ‘Kingdom of the Burned’ lie in Montreal, where frontman Tavis Triance was part of a band called the Royal Mountain Band.
A difference in musical direction lead to Triance and his wife Rachel Horst striking out on their own and finding other musicians including crack rhythm section Jeff and Seamus Cowan, who shared their love of late ’60s early ’70s rock like  Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and  the Band.
“I just loved the sound of those late ’60s and early ’70s records,” Triance said, who splits time with the band with his day job as a substitute high school teacher and taking care of an autistic boy.
After recording the CD, he and his wife split for Vancouver where they have been playing with members of Rodney DeCroo’s band, Ed Goodine and guitarist John Wood along with bassist Chris Young and his wife, Rachel Horst on keyboards and vocals. This is the band who will be playing with Rodney DeCroo at the Slice, April 16.
“I guess I’ve got an east coast band and a west coast band. This band has more of a pscyh-country sound with a touch more  of a garage sound. I listen to a lot of things like the Thirteenth Floor Elevators. And I grew up with the music of Crosby, Stills and Nash and Young. It was always around the house,” he said adding by the time he and his wife moved to Vancouver, he already had enough songs to the CD, though one of them, ‘Emmanuel’  remains from his last days with the Royal Mountain Band.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 13 April 2010 11:52 ) Read more...
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