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Say good-bye to the Gruff

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Victoria roots/ bluegrass trio the Gruff  are calling it quits after  10 years with one last tour which comes to the Slice, April 14. The Gruff play April 14. Photo by Ariel Rubin
“It’s just time. It’s not the touring or the music, it’s just time to move on,” said drummer / vocalist and founding Gruff member Phaedra Kemp adding the trio has been together for 10 years — five including the current line up of bassist/ vocalist Terri Upton and guitarist/mandolinist/vocalist Jenny Ritter. Chris Herbst will be with them on dobro for this show.
“We just decided to quit on a high note while we still like each other,” Kemp laughed.
“We’ve grown apart musically. When we started we were an Irish/ Celtic band, now the closest thing to describe us is roots/country. There’s so many genres,” she added, noting the band has had a lot of highlights in their career.
“Getting to see Canada. Choosing a highlight is hard. We’ve got to meet so many people and musicians. We’ve got to see so many things we wouldn’t have got to see otherwise like small towns in northern Ontario,” she continued.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 11 April 2010 14:43 ) Read more...

Fish & Bird touring to prepare for new album

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Though the members of  Victoria/ Gulf Island based bluegrass/ roots band Fish & Bird are scattered all over the country, distance doesn’t matter — it’s the music that counts.
“For most of us,  music is the number one priority, so we do whatever it takes to make it happen,” said Fish & Bird singer Taylor Ashton, whose band plays the Henotic, Monday, April 12 with the Sure Things.Fish & Bird play Henotic, April 12.
Ashton lives in Winnipeg while  multi-instrumentalist Adam  Iredale-Gray lives in the Gulf Islands who grew up in the Gulf Islands  with bassist /vocalist Zoe Guigeno who now calls Toronto home. Guitarist Ryan Boeur completes the quartet.
“When we started, Adam and I were a duo, but we’ve expanded to a full band now,” he said adding they write as a complete band as well. They also connect musically online.
“It kind of looks like we’re a bluegrass band but we cover a lot of musical territory from  old time bluegrass to closer to an art rock sound with some jazz influence. We can play a variety of different kinds of music acoustically,” he continued.
They are about to embark on an intense two month tour then will be back in the studio to record their third CD.
Their last CD, ‘Left Brain  Blues’ came out in 2009.
“We’ve toured on it before. Part of the purpose for this tour is to get back together and lay solidly for a month or so and then go back into the studio fresh  from 25-30 shows,” he continued adding  the new songs are almost done. the band will work on final arrangements on the road and in Adam Iredale-Gray’s studio.

Music for all ages

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All ages gigs are a haven for youth who want to both hear and play live music, but are too young to get into the bars. So several Lethbridge youth are taking things into their own hands and setting up their own shows.
“There’s no greater feeling than being on stage,” said Jordan Davidson, frontman of local rock  band  Eyes Of Isis, who  has been organizing all ages gigs since he was in Grade 8 including  one at  the Moose Hall March19, featuring local bands Jesse And the Dandelions, Lock N’ Load and Eyes of Isis.Local band Guruth had fans rocking at the Zoo, March 26. Photo by Richard Amery
“If you’re too young to get into the bar, you don’t get a lot of that in Lethbridge,” said the 18-year- old, adding that gig was the last one for Eyes of Isis in the city for the band for a while as  they are going  on tour. However when they return, he hopes to have other all ages gigs under the Sandman Inn, where popular bar Dexter’s used to be.
 He likes the Moose Hall on the north side because  the rental price is right and because of the location.
“It’s nice to see younger people come out . It’s nice to see an all ages crowd coming out to listen to live music he said, adding the gig came together easily.
“You’ve got to have a good looking poster to attract the fans. And I’ve found that three bands is just enough because otherwise people feel ripped off and  more than that is just too much.”
Jesse Northey of local band Jesse and the Dandelions, who organized an all ages gig at Henotic in January, noted it is a good idea to get people excited about music when they are young.
“Younger people get more a lot more excited about things. So If you can get people excited about live music when they are young, hopefully they will be the ones forming bands and  going to shows in the future. So all ages gigs are investing in the future,” Northey observed.
“We had about 75 kids at Henotic and we didn’t do a lot of advertising, so we did pretty well. And we’re starting to see a lot of familiar faces and they’re telling their friends,” he continued.
“I lot of them haven’t seen a lot of bands before, so this is a new experience for them.”
Parents enjoy the all ages gigs too.
“I just like my son’s music,” said Don Rennie, working the door at the Moose Hall. He is the father of Eyes of Isis lead guitarist Chase Rennie.
“It’s better that they are doing this then out  getting into trouble,” he said adding all of their friends come out to support them.


Smokestack Jacks and Phantom Creeps kick off tour in Lethbridge

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The Smokestack Jacks and the Phantom Creeps kicked off a one week tour  at the Slice with extremely loud and Dave Bullied of the Smokestack Jacks. Photo by Richard Amerytight sets, April 2. Smokestack Jacks started by playing most of the songs from their brand new full length self titled CD.
 As per usual there was a lot of raunchy slide guitar and incendiary energy which had a good sized crowd cheering in their seats.
 They played a ‘pop’ song which included liberal use of cowbell and sent out their ‘Birthday’ song to one of the audience members celebrating her birthday.
Tyler Brownfield and Dean Wilson of the Phantom Creeps. Photo by Richard AmeryThe Phantom Creeps started their set with a few bars from Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’ then ripped into a high octane set with a couple of excellent new to me  tracks, then played a couple tracks from their new CD including ‘Hell To Pay,’  ‘Cold Hearted Man’ and ‘Route 666’ and a good new song called ‘Scorpion’

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor


Shane Philip mezmerizes audience

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One man Vancouver Island based band Shane Philip played a typically hypnotic set for approximately 30 people atShane Philip played many different instruments. Photo by Richard Amery Henotic, Friday, April 2. He alternated between several sets of drums, djembes, guitars and  three didgeridoos. He impressively alternated between all of the instruments, especially during his didgeridoo solos and didn’t miss a step or a beat as a couple members of the crowd swayed and danced among themselves. Throughout he sang pretty vocal melodies.
 I was expecting a larger audience for this as he was here a month ago and packed the GCBC Lounge.  But he sang beautiful melodies and played some very cool solos.
— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor
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