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Real McKenzies and Isotopes get good crowd primed for St.Patrick’s Day

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The Real McKenzies annual pre-St. Patrick’s Day party in Lethbridge is always a good time.The Real McKenzies Paul Mckenzie and Troy Jak at Average joes, March 16. photo by Richard Amery

 Their March 16 show at Average Joes was no exception. It got pretty drunk out for quite a few people. It goes with the territory at a Real McKenzies show.
 I missed the opening set from the Lethbridge Firefighters Pipes and Drums.

 But I was just in time for a rollicking set from baseball themed  punk band the Isotopes.

 I love to see a band so completely committed to a bit.
 They all sported baseball hats, baseball sunglasses and even had a manager / hype man on stage dressed in nothing but a leather jacket and jock strap, swinging a baseball bat and introducing the band. Frontman Evan October, in between singing all manner of songs about baseball players, incidents and the game itself and the  “Bleacher Creature Girl ” about baseball mascots and set ending “Chicks Dig The Long Ball” in his adenoidal, nasally voice reminiscent of the Dickies and Blink -182, did pushups on stage during the odd guitar solo. Musically the band drew a lot from the Ramones and their pop punk protégés.

The Real mcKenzies} Paul McKenzie and piper Aspy. Photo by Richard Amery
 The Isotopes began their set with several highlights from their most recent CD “Nuclear Strikezone,” including “Total Juicehead,” “Hasta La Vista, Baby” and “Situation No No.”

They also introduced a couple of brand new songs from a new CD which is due out on April 18. They lead the audience through a drunken, rousing a cappella version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and then punked the song up.
The Real McKenzies are always a good time.

 The classic Celtic rockers, celebrating  25 years as a band came crashing out of the gate with “Due West”  just before 11 p.m. with the first single off their new CD “ Two Devils Will Talk.” A mosh pit soon started in front of the stage early in the show.

The Real McKenzies’ exciting, and energetic set  focused on songs from the new CD, though they added old crowd favourite “Nessie” early on in the set, which lead to charismatic and talkative frontman Paul McKenzie to promise he’d write a song about the Okanagan lake’s sea monster Ogopogo.
 There were plenty of snarling guitars and high voltage whining bagpipes from towering piper Aspy.

But the band also showed off their vocal harmonies on a couple of a cappella Robbie Burns poems and on Stan Roger‘s Canadian classic “Northwest Passage,” which is also on the new CD and helped wind down their set.
 The Real McKenzies bring back one of their very oldest covers “Scots Wha Ha’e” on the new Cd and it was a highlight of this show.

“ My Luck is So Bad,” one of my favourites from  their “Westwinds” album from a few years ago was another highlight.The isotopes opening for The Real McKenzies. Photo by Richard Amery

A newer highlight was their performance of “ Sail Again,” which brought out the more metal side of the band.

 The good thing about a band like the Real McKenzies, who have never had a hit per se, is that they can do pretty much anything in their show. But they still added some set mainstays like “Mainland,” “Pour Decisions, and the always fun “ Drink With Me,” adding to the party atmosphere of their show, though punctuated from the occasional C bomb from an enthusiastic McKenzie who also shared some shots about politics. They were called back for an encore after another highlight from the CD, “Fuck the Real McKenzies, which was a hit with the audience.
 They started their encore with an a capella number and cranked things up a notch for a Turbonegro cover and their usual show ender “Bugger Off” which wound things up around 12:30 a.m.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 22 March 2017 09:49 )

Andrea Superstein trio play super set of jazz and pop

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Vancouver based jazz trio, The Andrea Superstein trio, featuring pianist Jen Lewin and drummer Nino DiPasquale backing vocalist Superstein, put on a super show at the Geomatic Attic, March 16.

The Andrea Superstein Trio playing the Geomatic Attic. Photo by Richard Amery
 They had set up the room as a jazz club with the patrons sitting around round tables, noshing on treats from Plum. It was a beautiful atmosphere for a laid back show that was a lot more than traditional jazz.

The Montreal born Superstein sang superb, sultry vocals, opening up the first set with a reworked jazz/ lounge version of Bananarama’s ’80s pop hit “Venus.”

Most of the first set included tracks from her eclectic new CD “What Goes on” including originals and rearranged jazz,  R and B and pop hits, plus a few excellent new originals.
She followed “Venus” by reworking a Carole King penned, 1960 Shirelles hit “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.”

Jen Lewin played gorgeous piano, drawing applause from the appreciative audience, as Superstein stood back, sipped a bottle of water and watched Lewin’s fingers fly.

 Drummer Nino Di Pasquale soloed as well which also drew applause.
Superstein chatted about the origins of each song, as she spoke about looking at Cole Porter’s “I Love Paris” from the opposite point of view by way of introducing her beautifully melancholy arrangement of the jazz standard.

 She followed it up with the first original of the night, a brand new song  “I Tried” about trying to be someone she was not for her partner.

“It didn’t work out well for me, but I can slander him in the song,” she chuckled.

She emphasized this was not a jazz show in the traditional sense as she talked about growing up in a house which only listened to talk radio, before looking to her parents for musical inspiration and eventually finding a box of 8-Track tapes which included  James Taylor, Peter, Paul and Mary and Bob Dylan. Which lead to Superstein performing a very cool, laid back version of Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.”

 She talked about balancing being a touring musician and high school teacher and played a song “Garden of Love” which she wrote when she was supposed to be supervising final exams.
They wound up their first set with “I Want to Be Evil,”  another original from her CD, and got the audience to sing along with the chorus.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. beat Editor
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 22 March 2017 09:24 )

Tin and the Toad play old and new favourites at Windy City Opry

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People love the Windy City Opry, partially because it always features excellent country and roots music and partially  it starts early and ends early on  a weeknight. Such was the case for the latest edition, March 15 at the Slice, moved to the third Wednesday of the month this time, rather than the usual second Brooke Wylie sings with Tin and the Toad, March 15 at the Slice. Photo by Richard AmeryWednesday.

 It didn’t hurt that It featured Southern Alberta country band Tin and the Toad, who are always a popular draw.

 I missed host Shaela Miller as well as  the opening set from Brooke Wylie and Tin and the Toad’s first set which focused on the CD release party for their latest CD “Out of the Wind.”

 Luckily they returned for a second set of crowd favourites and well chosen covers including a request for Andrew Neville and the Poor Choices’“Coming Home To You.”

 They also played a couple of my favourites from their first CD as Pete Loughlin traded his bass for an acoustic guitar to sing “Keeping this Bar Alive,” which he dedicated to former Slice owners Jesse and Tyler Freed and new owner Jesse Smith.
 Brooke Wylie joined them to add extra harmonies to Tin and the Toad’s already excellent vocal harmonies.

Tin and the Toad playing the Windy City Opry. Photo by Richard Amery
 Their vocal harmonies are one of the things  I like the most about Tin and the Toad along with their down home country song and Steve Loree’s steel guitar and electric guitar solos. The band includes four different songwriters who each have their own appealing unique voices, which come together as one on each other’s songs.

They also included another of my favourites “ Reminders.”

 And just to be cool, they ended their show before midnight by turning punk band SNFU’s “Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump” into a solid country song.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. beat Editor
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 22 March 2017 09:12 )

Paul Kype and Texas Flood help celebrate fans’ birthdays

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It is always a party  with Paul Kype and Texas Flood.Jenn Kype sings with her husband  Paul Kype during a March 11 show. Photo by Richard Amery

 I arrived at their packed, March 11 show at the Slice, just in time for them to take an extended set break.

 The Slice was full  with the patrons of two birthday parties for which the popular blues rockers were pleased to provide the soundtrack.

 Paul Kype and Texas Flood including  Kype on guitar and vocals, Greg Gomola trading guitar leads as well as lead vocals with him, drummer Brad Valgardson and bassist Craig Erdmann, played a solid second set which opened with  a cover of the Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy.”

 Kype’s wife Jenn Pellerin joined the band on stage to sing “I Just Want to Make Love To You,” and a haunting cover of Four Non Blonde’s “What‘s Going On.”

—By Richard Amery, L.A. beat Editor
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 22 March 2017 09:01 )

Big Little Lions warm up the Owl with big sound and upbeat pop

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 Big Little Lions heated up the Owl Acoustic Lounge on a  chilly , snowy Saturday night, March 11 with agreeable, peppy, CBC radio friendly folk/ pop music. I just caught the end of their show, but enjoyed the Cincinnati/ Vancouver Island duo’s melding of different sounds.

Big Little Lions’ Helen Austin and Paul Otten entertain. Photo by Richard Amery
 England born, Vancouver based Helen Austin strummed guitar and sang beautifully while chatting engagingly with the rapt audience. Her Cincinnati based compatriot, multi-instrumentalist Paul Otten played everything else. He sang harmonies which thumping away at both his drums and keyboards.

 Together they made beautiful music , including a couple that CBC played,featuring plenty of pleasant melodies and an exotic Icelandic feel in places. Austin promised to “take it Up to 11,” for the next couple songs, and while  it wasn’t quite up to 11, the next few songs were definitely more perky and upbeat rather than the melancholic feel of  the part of the set I heard.

A highlight was “In Spite of it All,” for which Austin got the audience to clap along.
 They were called back to play an encore, which was a slow and pretty, sexy number called “Loved Up.”

— By Richard Amery, L.A. beat Editor
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 22 March 2017 08:55 )
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