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L.A. Beat

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Outlaw Country Cruise 8 featured Mojo Nixon’s last show and lots of great music

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Once again, I headed south to escape the snow , but not the rain, to join my Outlaw Cruise family of the Outlaw Country Cruise 8 for good music , good times and , this time , shocking tragedies. Feb 4-9. Yes, this was the  one beloved  musician, all round character, iconoclast and Sirius XM  Outlaw Country  personality Mojo Nixon passed away on.

 There  was two distinct parts of the cruise— before Mojo’s last show and after.

Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr playing the Pool deck, on Outlaw Country Cruise 8. Photo by Richard Amery

Other than Miami being under a rare tornado warning when we boarded the steadfast Norwegian Pearl under a relentless downpour on Feb. 4, it was business as usual.

I signed up for an early boarding time to catch the country strains of Sarah Gayle Meech, who was a highlight of Outlaw Cruise 3, my first Outlaw Cruise.

 She has a new album out as  well.


 The weather cleared in time for headliners Blackberry Smoke who killed it on the pool deck.  “Get Well Soon Brit” was emblazoned on the bass drum  for Blackberry Smoke drummer/ band’s CD and merch artist Brit Turner who was away recovering from health issues and passed on this week. As usual they played a solid set of songs from their 20 some years playing music incuding a lot for their latest album “Be Here Now.”  I was hoping to get an early copy of it so was in line for merch and missed  Steve Earle joining them on stage  to play “Copperhead Road.” They didn’t have the new album on board anyway.

 Ever since the Outlaw Country Cruise expanded to six days it has become a marathon, not a sprint, both with alcohol consumption and making sure you catch everybody you signed up to see as well as discovering some great new talent.


 With 37 bands playing five stages, thankfully most performers played multiiple times, so there was a good chance to catch them, weather and tragedy permitting. Yet I stlll missed a few  shows including Steve Earle solo shows,  Chuck Mead, whose pool deck show was cancelled because of rain and a Nick Lowe jam with Los Straitjackets. I also missed Mary Gauthier’s sets but caught her  interview with Steve Earle about songwriting, which featured some crowd favourites.


 I caught the last part of Shinyrib’s  first night set on the atrium stage. I didn’t get to Hear “I Don’t Give A Shit, but caught their hilarious cover of Rihanna’s “ Bitch Better Have My Money.”

  A lot of people signed up to see Virginia country band 49 Winchester, who are just beginning a tour with Corb Lund, and who played a solid show on the pool deck. I cut that show short to catch my first new discovery— Oklahoma musician Kaitlin Butts in the Spinnaker Lounge and missed Steve Earle solo show in Stardust. Elizabeth Cook missed the boat due to family reasons, so her fiirst show was cancelled . I caught her pool deck show later, which would turn out to be her only show on the boat, but I also caught her great interview with Blackberry Smoke.


The Vandoliers played their usual energetic a tight set of punk infused original music with  horns, keyboards and bare chests in the atrium. With so much else to see, that was the only show of theirs I caught.

 Raylene Nelson, the eldest granddaughter of Willie Nelson by his son Billy Nelson Jr, was a highlight I caught a few times. They were playing for a packed room in the Magnum Lounge, playing their own mix of ukulele powered folk, country and alternative rock. 

 They wound up their set with a punkish Pretenders deep cut I think was “ Precious.”


Laid back country Picker and Warner Hodges on the Outlaw Country Cruise 8. Photo by Richard Amery

I caught Lucinda Williams’s wonderful set, which focused on  her latest  album “Stories From A Rock n Roll Heart.”

 The first day at sea was the day to ease into the rest of the cruise by sitting in on Sirius Sessions at Sea interviews.

 Steve Earle wanted to talk about Texas songwriters and Steve Earle instead of his interview subject Ray Wylie Hubbard.

 He missed an excellent opportunity to  ask  what it was like to work with a Beatle ( Ringo Starr,) an Eagle (Joe Walsh) and a Black Crowe (Chris Robinson), not to mention Don Was all on the same song “ Bad Trick,” a highlight from Hubbard’s Co starring CD, until the self deprecating and ever humble Hubbard brought it up. He  delivered that story later on the pool deck. Earle  did get him to tell the story of “Redneck Mother” and  played  it with him.


 Hubbard observed he also played a song with Steve Earle  on his latest album Co-Starring Too, but couldn’t remember what it was (Hellbent For Leather), but noted it wouldn’t have been on the CD without Earle . He did play “Stone Blind Horses,” which is a duet with Willie Nelson on Co Starring Too.

I caught what turned out to be Mojo Nixon’s last interview, with up and up and comers .49 Winchester. Mojo Nixon interviews have always been a little surreal, but he played it straight with this one, sticking with the five Ws as he bonded with the rural Virginia band. Things got more typically  Mojo as he asked them the best way to test the quality of moonshine.


The evening was the time to  catch the bands I signed up for.

 Los Straitjackets beamed through their  lucheador masks  a on the pool deck as they worked their way through a solid set of surf rock and instrumentals, but I cut that short for Ray Wylie Hubbard’s Stardust  set.

Hubbard played Stone Blind Horses,“Redneck Mother and  “Bad Trick” again. I was hoping for “Stolen Horses,” “ Screw you We‘re From Texas,” and maybe even “ Conversation With The Devil,” but it was not to be.

 Of course he played  his autobiographical epic “ Mother Blues,” ending by deadpanning the ultimate inspirational line “ The days I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, I have really good days.” He used that song as an excuse to introduce his new band including  his son Lucas, who was playing lead guitar .

 He was going to expand on that set on his Thursday pool deck show and was starting to include special guests for his  pool deck  show on Thursday, but that set, which was to include “Redneck Mother” ended up being cut short.


Nikki Lane is one of the reasons I signed up for the boat, so caught all of her  shows. The now blonde, formerly brunette “Highway Queen”  stole a lot of the shows including the Lucinda Willaims tribute a few days later with a hot version of “Passionate Kisses.”


Plenty of great local music and drama marked 2023

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 It was a weird year coming out of the pandemic.

 This year was fraught with forest fires, heat ,  unseasonable snow, but more importantly a lot of great music and drama.

 Local Theatre troupes, Playgoers of Lethbridge and Theatre Outré celebrated big anniversaries this year.

MonkeyJunk’s Steve Marriner playing for the Geomatic Attic. Photo by Richard Amery

 A lot of new bands formed, more established bands released new music .

 I caught as much as I could, having to work around family issues, illnesses and finally getting back on stage to act. I caught a couple of great out of town shows,  like my usually February break on the Outlaw Country Cruise,  Kathleen Edwards  opening for Jason Isbel and the 400  Unit in Calgary right after returning from the Cruise.

Later in the year I took in MonkeyJunk, Samantha Fish and Jesse Dayton and more at the Edmonton Blues Festival .

 I got to see a lot of  Big Sugar’s Gordie Johnson this year. He was playing with Harponist and the Axe Murderer’s Shawn Hall at the Geomatic Attic’s annual  Outdoor festival Wide Skies Music Festival in July and August. I saw him again at the Edmonton Blues Festival, Aug. 27  jamming with MonkeyJunk, who also played a great Geomatic Attic show. And I got to see a classic Big Sugar show in Toronto opening for and jamming with Govt. Mule, Sept. 13 at Massey Hall.

 But there was a  so much  to do right here in Lethbridge with lots of outdoor festivals, the last South Country Fair  as it stands and a lot more to do. So without further adieu, here’s L.A. Beat’s year in review, bearing in mind I also missed a lot of great shows.


Jan. 7 The year usually begins  and ends with a  show from local R and B and disco collective Hippodrome. They played a  few times in town beginning with Pardip Atwal’s birthday  party on Jan. 7. They will be back this coming Jan. 6 at the Slice.

Jan. 13 I missed Ellen Froese’ shows later in the year, but was glad to catch her at the Slice, with Richard Inman.

 Jan. 13 Eric Braun kicked off a busy year at Casino Lethbridge showing more of his country side.

 Jan. 14 The Ashley Hundred returned to the Owl Acoustic Lounge to play a mix of jazz, rock and hip hop

Jan. 15 The Lethbridge Folk Club got an early start on the year with Edmonton musician John Hewitt.

 Jan. 20 -21 CBC opened a new Lethbridge bureau with local music including Starpainter and family activities at the Lethbridge Public Library .

Jan. 21  Horizon  were prominent faces at outfdoor festivals and events this year, but played Honkers Pub, 

—l’Omelette,  featuring Peter and the Wolves’  Meg Thompson and Peter Cormier on drums, played couple excellent jazz and R and B shows this year including at the Owl Acoustic Lounge.

Jan. 25 Local Celtic band Celtic Routes played all mover town, usuallly hosting a monthly Celtic jam at  Theoeretically Brewing, but had a busy January with several Robbie Burns related shows.

Jan. 27 Local alternative riock duo made a rare appearance aon stage at the Slice to blow a few lights and eardrums with original alternative rock.



 Feb. 3 The Rainbow Patrol played all over the place this year.A s always Richard Charlton and company rocked the Owl Acoustic Lounge.

Feb. 5 Local country band El Mule  played the first of several shows this year at the Owl Acoustic Lounge.

 — Don Cassell from The Dark Wrangler celebrated 70 years by playing his  usual set of gritty CCR inspired rock and roll with Danica Sommer.

Feb. 11 Tyler Vandendool made the first of a couple local appearances at the Slice this year with Makiisma

— Progressive rock/ emo band Alec Arms played in several iterations this year, including the full electric experience art the Owl Acoustic Lounge for the AES Audio Engineer Society annual Fundraiser.


 March 1 Before coming home after the Outlaw Country Cruise 7, I caught  Jason Isbel and the 400 Unit  at the Jack Singer Concert hall in Calgary, Feb. 28 It was excellent with Isbel playing a mix of crowd favourites and new songs.

 March 4

 Honkers Pub celebrated 26 years with lots of Honkers favourites like Laurie and the Guys, Paul Kype, Luke James Bruce and the Mark Hall band, later to rebrand themselves as Undefined

March 8 Missed the Cancer bats at the Slice.

 March 11 Okay Mann played an excellent set of alt country and roots music at The Owl Acoustic lounge.

— Another excellent country band El Mule aka Trevor Christensen backed by Megan Brown on fiddle and drummer Brad Brouwer, bassist Paul Holden plus Noeline Hofman adding background vocals  played one of many excellent shows this year, this time at the Slice.

 March 14 Bagpipe powered Canadian Scottish punk mainstays The Real McKenzies  shows can be a little messy, as their March 14 show at the Owl Acoustic Lounge. The music was great but frontman Paul McKenzie rubbed some of the audience the wrong way with some of his stage patter. It was still one of my favourites of the year. The Anti-Queens played an amazing opening set, though I missed MomBod’s opening set.

 March 18 Suite 33 played a fundraiser forpopular for young bronc rider  Sandy Cooper at  Honkers Pub. 

— I only caught the end of Maddie Storvold’s show at the Geomatic Attic

March 20 Young local talent showed their chops at the Lethbridge and District Music and Speech Arts Festival..

March 24 Calgary rockabilly band Peter And the Wolves always put on a great show. They played Lethbridge several times this year at Casino Lethbridge and at the Slice, march 24

— Saskatoon band Green Wing played the first of several local shows of  ’90s style power pop at the Owl Acoustic lounge.

 March 25 The Lethbridge Blues and Jazz Festival brought  TendaVillage to the Owl Acoustic lounge to play some beautiful jazz and R and B music .

— Local band Trainwreck played a lot this year, usually at Honkers pub, but played Casino Lethbridge, March 24 and 25

March 25 Probably the best blues show of the year was MonkeyJunk’s 15th anniversary show with Peter and the Wolves for the Geomatic Attic at the German Canadian Club.

Kitty and the Rooster at the Slice. Photo by Richard Amery


 April 1 Kevin Peters played one of many great country shows at the Slice

—Bluegrass / string band inspired band RedGirl played an innovative set of folk music for the Lethbridge Folk Club incorporating an eight string mandocello.

 April 2 John Wort Hannam won  a Canadian Folk music Award for his album “Long Haul”

 April 4 I missed the Geomatic Attic’s presentation of Reuben and the Dark at Southminster United Church 

April 7 Dave Chomiak’s  ’80s weekend returned with  tributes to Bon Jovi, Heart, The Police, ,a new local Iron Maiden Tribute, 664 the NEighbour of the Beast who will be playing New Year’s Eve at the Slice this year, Dokken Tribute ‘Breaking the Chains’ and Chomiak’s always popular Def Leppard Tribute Stage Fright  and Scorpions aTribute the Zoo.

— lots of local country including Noeline Hofman, played the Slice with a hot backup band Trevor Christensen on guitar and vocals, pedal steel player Kevin Peters , drummer Brad Brouwer, bassist Kurt Ciesla and Megan Brown, adding fiddle and background vocals.

April 8 Playgoers of Lethbridge celebrated their 100th anniversary in style with a whole lot of shows. The one Act Play Festival on April 8 was a highlight of the year with  contributions form Taber Players and more.

April 12 Kitty and the Rooster returned to the slice with new music and a sexy vibe with Sammy Volkov and  Jack Garton for one of the strangest in the best way shows of the year.

 April 15 Theatre Outré turned 10 this year. In addition to an exhibit at the Museum, they brought back a. lot of old favourites for Quaint, Quirky and Queer at the Owl Acoustic lounge

April 21 Calgary alternative rock band Free the Cynics returned to Lethbridge to play the Slice in support of their new album “Bloodlines.”

— It’s always fun for bands to show their influences as they play other bands. Bands as bands featured Cope as Me first and the Gimmie Gimmies and. female powered Ramones tribute.

April 22 James Gordon played an excellent night of stories and songs for the Lethbridge Folk Club 

 April 25, Geomatic Attic had an eclectic night of country and roots with  Emily Triggs, Matt Patershuk and Carter Felker..

 April 28 Australian born Chicago based blues musician Michael Charles  played a marathon set of blues music at the Slice.


 Karen Romanchuk released her new CD “ Is it Just Me”

 Missed the return of the Dayglo Abortions

 May 2 The Stampeders returned to Lethbridge, but I missed the show.

 Kimberley MacGregor played the first of 2 Lethbridge shows at the Owl with Makiisma adding extra fiddle

 May 11 Winnipeg base jazz band Apollo Suns  played their first Lethbridge show of the year. Makiisma opened, but I missed her set.

 Casa turned 10 with Oscar Lopez , who played the opening  concert 10 years ago

May 16 Rising local country star Brayden King fresh off competing at American Idol kicked off his Bad Night to be A Beer tour tour at the Slice with  Beamer Wigley.

 May 18 One of my favourite Winnipegers Romi Mayes made a long awaited return to  the Slice, to  perform her Lucinda Williams tribute. As happened a lot more than it should this year,  she  didn’t get as many people as she deserved .

May 24  Calgary punk rockers Citizen Rage returned to the Slice ins support of their first full length CD  “Harsh Reality” with No More Moments.

May 26 Edmonton’s The Denim Daddies got the owl hopping  with country rock and southern rock

 — Jesse Northey returned home for a few shows. he opened for matt Epp at the Owl

— The Chevelles held “court” at the Place pretty much every month to raise money for local sports teams. Lethbridge Amateur Wrestling was the benefactor of their May Fundraiser.

 May 27 Scenic Route to Alaska played Slicefest— the Slice’s anniversary weekend which featured Like Bears, Hell Diablo and the Hockey Moms .

May 31  Calgary Western Swing band the Red Hot Hayseed got things swinging at the Owl  a few times this year including, May 31.


 June 2 Nix Dicksons Taber born frontman Tanner Holthe returned home to play  Theoretically Brewing’s patio

—BA Johnston played a couple of times this year at the Owl. I caught another hilarious set, June 2 . Decadent Phase opened. He always has a full house on a Tuesday, but got a Friday nig

Apollo Suns started two tours in Lethbridge this year. Photo by Richard Amery

ht this time.

— Tyrants of Chaos had a CD release party  for their new CD “Relentless Thirst for Power” at the Slice.

—  Starpainter officially released their sophomore CD “ Rattlesnake Dreams” .

June 3 Lethbridge  has a bountiful crop of songwriters and we got to see a lot of them at the South Country Fair Songwriting Challenge at the Owl and the Slice.

 June 9 Lots was going on in Festival Square this summer . The Decadent Phase opened the summer but their set got cut short by a deluge of rain.

June  10 I missed a lot of the Geomatic Attics sizzling season, but was pleased to catch BMW aka Tim Williams, Big Dave McLean and Kevin Belzner.

 June 16 Suit Jacket Society opening for Motley Cruë tribute at the Place

— Okanagen duo Moving Lines brought their own style of ’80s style metal and hard rock to the Slice

June 16 and 17 Pops Pub celebrated 15 years with live music  including Train Wreck and Bridgette Yarwood.

June 17 Kevin Peters playing country at the Owl pretty much monthly 

— Berserker  playied a lot this year this time with Geoff at the Slice playing detuned stoner rock

 June 20 Artificial Dissemination played my favourite punk show of the year at the Slice with Mombod and Bob Scallywag.

 June 21 Local Jazz trio HBO 3 played a lot, usually at the Watertower Grill, but played the Owl with duelling saxophonists Michael Carter and Ryan Heseltine

 June 24 Vancouver band Brass Camel rocked ’70s style at Owl, June 24. They were my favourite new discovery this year.

— Rotary Dragon Boat Festival returned  with lots of live music including  Eric Braun, Steel Cut and Horizon and Coyote Junction, the last two who I haven’t seen for a while.

 June 26 Lunch At Allens returned to the Yates Theatre. I caught a sold out show of intimate hits and humour from Ian Thomas, Cindy Church, Murray McLachlan and Marc Jordan .


Farmers’ market expected to grow at Exhibition Park this season

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If you’ve been missing your fix of fresh, locally grown produce, homemade bread and pierogis and locally sourced meat, or maybe even Homer donuts, then you’re in luck because the farmers market returns to Exhibition park this Saturday, June 10.


The first Farmers' market of the season is Saturday, June 10 at Exhibition Park. Photo by Richard Amery

“ We’re excited to welcome the farmers’ market back. it’s our most long standing connection to the community,” said Lethbridge Exhibition park  CEO Mike Warkentin.


 The farmers market has been a fixture at Exhibition Park since 1962. It is  Lethbridge’s only Alberta  Approved Farmers’ market  which certifies  at least 80 per cent of the goods sold at the market are made, baked or grown in Alberta.

“ We had 57,000 people at the Farmer’s Market at Exhibition Park and the downtown farmer’s market last year It was a record year,” Warkentin said.


 He noted the farmer’s market will be in the north and south pavilions to start then move to the new agri-hub building.

“ We don’t have an ETA for that because construction is still ongoing,” he said.


More great music and new discoveries on Outlaw Country Cruise 7

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It’s hard to believe it’s been a month since I was on board the Norwegian Pearl for floating music festival, Outlaw Country Cruise 7. My brain is still reeling and my ears are still ringing from another fantastic Outlaw Country Cruise, which left from Miami, Feb. 21,  went to Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas, the island of Cozumel outside of Cancun, Mexico and back to Miami, Feb. 27. Lately it takes a lot longer to recover from the best vacation ever, not to mention writing about it. Yet they already put out a call to register  for OCC8 without announcing the line up a day after I got home on March 1. I signed up anyway even though it’s a year away as it’s always a good bet they will have a killer line up, which ended up being Blackberry Smoke, Dash Rip Rock and  drivin n cryin  and Ray Wylie Hubbard, to name just a few to start. But that’s not until next year.

Bill Kirchen and Sarah Borges on Outlaw Country Cruise 7. Photo by Richard Amery


The Outlaw Country Cruise is always a good time as I always discover my new favourite bands on the boat. I come back drained and alternately inspired depending on the day. This time my new favourites were easily a couple Texas bands The Vandoliers and Mike And the Moonpies.

 The Waco Brothers have been my new favourite since Outlaw Cruise 5, so I knew they were going to be great on this boat, especially with a new album out. There was a whole lot of Jon Langford, one of the frontmen of the Waco Brothers, who was also playing with the Mekons and  Jon Langford and Skull Orchard.


The other band I was looking forward to was the Old ’97s who  are celebrating  30 years together as a band. 

 Beaming frontman Rhett Miller was a blast. I caught all three Old ’97s and one guitar pull with Miller, but missed his solo show.

 They are full of energy and played three very different sets.

“Jesus Love You,” was a highlight of their pool deck show. And “Turn Off Your TV” was an apt highlight of at least one of them.


 I also caught all three Vandoliers sets.

 Their set in the atrium was a the best, with all six of them crammed onto the tiny stage. They sounded like Elliott Brood but louder and with a trumpet and keyboards and a bare chested fiddle player channeling the spirit of Charlie Daniels.

Most of them were shirtless by the end of their furious and hot set. They bill themselves as your favourite punk band’s favourite country band,” and not without reason.

 They were off the hook. They’re in the news now for protesting Tennessee’s draconian new anti- drag law by performing in dresses and auctioning those dresses off  for Tennessee LBGTQ organizations.


 Atrium shows were the best and most intimate, they felt more like a bar setting where most of the performers are more used to playing.


The Vandoliers on Outlaw Country Cruise 7. Photo by Richard Amery

 The Waco Brothers’ best and most dangerous set was also on the atrium stage. They all sported their trademark Waco Brothers ’ sailor hats. Tiny fiddle player Jean Cook was ducking to save her life or to at least to avoid a concussion from bouncing bassist Alan Doughty who was leaping and kicking in his corner, while playing some of the fastest, most melodic bass lines I’ve ever heard while putting on a show.


 I only saw Cook only get knocked down once, but he helped her up immediately.


 The Supersuckers are always a highlight of the boat. This time, bassist Eddie Spaghetti was everywhere doing triple duty as Supersuckers frontman as well as playing bass for Supersuckers guitarist Metal Marty’s band and playing bass again with punk rock trucking collective the Franklin County Trucking Company, who were another new  favourite.

The only musician to play more shows was probably Bill Kirchen was everywhere, playing with pretty much everybody. I only caught one of his own shows, but luckily caught his set ending jam on “ Hot Rod Lincoln,” which  ends with a medley of riffs from a cornucopia of hits ranging from country to punk rock.

 Everyone loves Bill Kirchen, who  was part of  Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen in the early ’70s. I heard he even went crowd surfing during Sara Borges’ set.

The Waco Brothers on Outlaw Country Cruise 7. Photo by Richard Amery


 Outlaw Country Cruisers are a tight knit  group of music lovers who are like a family away from the family but from all over the U.S, Canada and even a few overseas cruisers including music lovers and musicians alike hanging out blissfully on a boat.

 Bill Kirchen looked a little shocked after receiving a round of applause while getting on an elevator en route to one of his many appearances. The crowd parted for him on another elevator as he rushed from one gig downstairs to pool deck guest spot with Sarah Borges, who is always a cruise favourite.

Her fans set up a Facebook campaign to get her on the boat a few years ago, so she responded by writing a song with Bottle Rockets bassist Keith Voegele called “Got me on the Boat” which is on her most recent album. Borges and her partner Kurt Voegele were everywhere too.


 He even got to take centre stage on a late night cruise ending all-star jam of hits hosted by Warner Hodges band to belt out a version of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender.”

 I always come home with a lot of great memories and new musical discoveries. I forgot my good camera, so didn’t take as many pictures of things as trying to get a decent shot from a cell phone camera was more trouble than it’s worth so it was really weird to not be officially covering the shows.


 With six days of non-stop music, there is always something happening and a lot of highlights so it is essential to pace oneself to catch a little bit of everything without burning out. It’s a lesson I should learn some time, but the first night was front loaded with great shows and pretty much everybody I wanted to see.


 I made sure to board the boat early for a great collaboration between Joe King Carrasco and Texas Tornado Augie Meyers, who played a wild  boarding show on the pool deck. The two of them were a couple of the many musicians who were special guests on a lot of other musicians’ shows, which is one of the best things abut the boat.


The Mavericks are always a good times so I caught their cast off show, but cut it short because Kathleen Edwards, one of the main reasons I signed up for this cruise,  was playing her first show in the main theatre, The Stardust,  at the same time and  didn’t want to miss her. Her set and stories brought me to tears a couple of times. Her set was pretty similar throughout. She opened appropriately with “Just Another Song the Radio Won’t Play,” played a lot of her new album, and couple old favourites including “In State” and Six O Clock  News.”  I didn’t hear  “I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory” for the first one but she played it at her Atrium show a couple days later. I was wondering how many people would get the Canadian references in the song including “ The Horseshoe” and the  CBC,” but a lot of them did.


 I rushed back upstairs to the pool deck for Steve Earle’s last show with this iteration of the Dukes. As expected, it was a hit heavy show with  “Guitar Town,” “ I Ain’t Never Satisfied,” “Galway Girl” and, of course “Copperhead Road,” on which Earle played his mandolin. He seemed to be elsewhere, performing his best known numbers, basically going through the motions. He perked up for some of his newer  songs like the acidic “ It’s About Blood.” The  Mastersons’ multi-instrumental prowess added a much needed burst of energy to that set as he promised to play all of his songs about girls for his solo set.


Lots of musical highlights happened in 2022

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The music and  arts community spent 2022 slowly finding it’s wheels again. Even though things opened up last July, a lot of people still don’t feel comfortable going out with the Covid of it all. Other people still don’t go out at all like even before Covid.


I had a milestone birthday this year and spent most of 2022 trying to deny it, but finally realizing even I  don’t have the energy to hit every every show every night anymore. I did treat myself to a new guitar and a couple Outlaw Country Cruises, if only because a lot of my favourite acts on the boat don’t ever or seldom get up here.


 So I missed a couple key shows owing to exhaustion and illness as well.  And I didn’t brave before minus 40 temperatures to  go to shows like I did back in the day. 


Bridgette Yarwood played a lot this year. Photo by Richard Amery

 I missed Hippodrome’s annual pre Christmas bash at the Slice and a couple of sold out shows by Corb Lund at the Owl Acoustic lounge. I missed the return of Barney Bentall’s Caribou Express  and Bryan Adams because I was on vacation and I missed a packed Mahones show owing to  exhaustion and preparing for vacation. But I still caught quite a few superb shows.


 As usual, 2022 has been a year fraught with poor attendance, but there has also been some outstanding music. New bands have formed and released new music, while old bands have disbanded and reformed as new bands. Local acts played most of the great local shows. And several local musicians released new music.

 Local theatre troupes made up for lost time by bringing back old favourites and trying to carve out new paths. Playgoers of Lethbridge is gearing up for their big 100th anniversary celebration  next year, which will begin with  the comedy The Play That Goes Wrong, happening at the Yates Theatre in February. The One Act play Festival was a Playgoers highlight in May.


 Long sanding local theatre troupe New West Theatre , had to  appeal to the community to keep going after trying a new experimental direction, which was well done including Ukrainian play Barvinok and Tony Award winning rock and roll musical “Next to Normal “, but didn’t  appeal to the masses as much as they hoped. Fortunately the community came through and raised enough money to let them live another day.

 Hatrix Theatre brought back old favourites the Gazebo in May and Evil Dead the Musical aptly in time for Halloween to enthusiastic audiences. The Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society staged an outstanding production of Hamlet this summer outside Casa and in the Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens and Galt Gardens among other places. Hootenanny returned with another fun kid’s production The Junk Show.


 Good Times continued to bring in excellent comedians. 

 Local comedian Faris Hytiaa filmed his first comedy special at the Owl Acoustic lounge, Aug. 12 and 13.One of my favourite comedians Ron James returned to the Yates Theatre for two excellent shows in November.

 And Cirque Du Soleil returned with a bug themed show “OVO” in May.


 The University of Lethbridge continued putting on great shows and Theatre Outré celebrated their tenth anniversary by continuing to push the boundaries wth more experimental and risqué material.

 So here are just a few of my favourite highlights memories and pictures. 


 This year was the year for talented tribute acts.  I was wondering what would happen after Average Joes closed and reopened as the Place. They have continued to be the unofficial local home of classic rockers the Chevelles as well as  superb tribute acts beginning in January with Motley Crüe tribute All  Bad Things rocking the Place, Jan. 28

Motley Crüe All Bad Things, Jan. 28.

It was a great year for local talent like Saints and Sinners who rocked the Slice, Jan. 27.

Eric Braun was playing with everyone this year, had his own show at casino Lethbridge, Jan. 28, and hosting jams at  Honkers Pub

 Tyrants of Chaos got ready to release  their new album “Relentless Thirst for Power” by tearing up the Slice, Jan. 15.

 Rotary Square outside Casa was the place to be for live entertainment this year even in the dead of winter. Luckily they had warm weather for Winterfest in Rotary Square, Jan. 14, featuring performances by Adequate and Karen Romanchuk to name a few,  

Greg Rekus Returned to the Owl in January Photo by Richard Amery

 Winnipeg Folk punk musician Greg Rekus returned to the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Jan. 11. He will be back to host the Owl Acoustic Lounges open mic,  Jan 10.


The Slice started doing a lot more punk and metal shows this year. 


Medicine Hat metal band Western Death  played the Slice, Feb. 12

Taylor Ackerman’s Global Acid Reset released their new album “Doubt Freaks Us Out,” Feb. 5  at the Owl Acoustic Lounge. Taylor Ackerman was playing with everyone this year including with Shaela Miller and Hell Diablo.

 Bridgette Yarwood Band played a lot this year including Feb. 4 at the  Slice with with local Tragically Hip tribute The Hip Trip.


 I got Covid for my birthday so was surprised I caught as many March and April shows as I did. 

Eamon McGrath playing an acoustic show at Owl Acoustic Lounge, March 4


 Got back from Outlaw Country Cruise 6 in time to catch Edmonton musician Vissia showing her pop side for a great show at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, March 5.


Slice put on a couple cool songwriter in the rounds this year including March 5 with Don Kinahan , Connor Adams, Richard Inman and Marcus Sommer.

 I’m glad I caught Jr. Gone Wild who stopped by the Slice, March 12 in support of their new album “Still got the Jacket,” but was glad to see the Real McKenzies at the Owl, March 15 with Edmonton punk band  the Real Sickies.

 Alex Cuba played an excellent show at the Geomatic Attic, March 15.

Calgary rockabilly band Peter and the Wolves played one of several local shows including the  Owl Acoustic lounge, March 18.

The Lethbridge and District Music and speech Arts  Festival returned, March 28.


 The Geomatic Attic had a lot of great shows this spring including Steve Dawson, April 8. I Missed Harry Manx, April 16.

   More up and comers John and Scott Band played several times this year including at the Casino, April 8 and 9.

 More punk at the Slice with Screaming at Traffic and the Ringwalds, April 9.

 Red Hot Hayseeds are always a hoot. They played one of several Show at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, April 9. 

More ’80s  tributes at the Place, April 14-16 with  Dave Chomiak’s Bon Jovi Tribute Runaway, Whitesnake Tribute Snake Bite , local Tragically Hip tribute Hip Trip , Edmonton Dokken tribute  Breaking the Chains and Scorpions Tribute the Zoo and Chomiak’s Def Leppard tribute Stage Fright. Rhere was also a cool Black Sabbath tribute  featuring Bridgette Yarwood.


The Slice continues doing a lot of punk and metal. Sessions played April 22  and Calgary nerd-core band the Galacticas played as a duo as their bassist got Covid

 Long awaited return of Billie Zizi to Owl Acoustic Lounge, April 22.


I didn’t catch a lot of Enmax shows but was glad to see Sue Foley, ZZ Top and Cheap Trick, though missed most of Cheap Trick due to family issues, April 27.

Sue Foley joined them for “California Man” for the show which had been rescheduled due to Covid.

Beloved bluesman Harpdog Brown passed away, Jan. 7 of a heart attack. Several local musicians including Papa King, Jolene Draper and Steve Martin, plus Charlie Jacobson played a hot memorial show for him, April 30 at the Owl Acoustic lounge.


Hatrix Theatre revisits old  favourites  with The Gazebo in May at the Moose hall as the other wing brought back Evil Dead the Musical to McNally School in October

Australian born, Chicago based bluesman Michael Charles played May 12 as part of Slicefest. He  would return in a few months.


Taylor Ackerman played with a lot of different people this year and released a new CD. Photo by Richard Amery

Ll’omelette played a couple shows at Slice featuring Peter and the Wolves Peter Cormier on drums and Meg Thompson on vocals and sax.

Canadian Brewhouse having live music including midnight Echo, though i missed their May 8 show.

 Corb Lund played two sold out shows at the Owl Acoustic lounge, may 12 and 13, which i missed.

Eamon McGrath returned to the Owl Acoustic Lounge, this time with a band, May 27.

Dead Army a couple of local shows, May 26 and in December.


Things got funky at the Slice, with a wild show from rage funk band Raincity, May 27.

Ryland Moranz played a couple excellent local shows this year including May 28. at the Owl Acoustic Lounge.


 Shakespeare in the Park put on a great production of Hamlet.

The Chevelles rocked The Place as usual, June 4.

Hamilton funnyman BA Johnston is always a hoot at the Owl. He returned to the stage, June 7 with Open Channels

 Kirb Fest made the leap to the Yates Theatre, June 17. It featured lots of local talent  including John Kirby, John Wort Hannam,,Steve Keenan plus plenty of young up and coming bands, including Desert Orchid and more

Calgary country musician Carter Felker is always good to see.He returned to the Slice June 16 in support of his new album.

 There was  awesome punk at Owl with Quit It! and Western Death, June 17.

It’s great to see Kingston rock band Glorious Sons  grow. They hit Enmax stage,June 18, though I missed the show.

 There was a lot of live music outside of Telegraph Taphouse on  Festival Square. A big June 23  show featured the New Testaments,  Rudy Strangling Wolf and  another hot new band, Last Minute Letdowns.

Theoretically Brewing started doing punk and rock shows on their outdoor patio this summer.

Deadwolff, Rebel Priest and Hell Diablo brought back the spirit of the ’70s and ’80s a hard rock, June 30. Cope expanded to a trio, June 25.

Adequate brought the funk to the Owl, June 25 for one of several local shows

The Rotary Dragon Boat Festival returned this year with a full slate of bands. One of the highlights was Alison Hawkins and Uncovered, June 25.

Pridefest Galt Gardens brought an eclectic slate of drag performances and live music for Pridefest, June 25  including Shaela Miller hot off her Wild Country Wild win.

Folk Club announces first season in a year.


Canada Day  was back in force with  a lot of live music including Horizon Dory Rossiter, Bailey Kate, July 1

Richard Inman played a lot locally sometimes solo and often with a band, including July 2 at the Owl Acoustic Lounge

Street Machine Weekend meant  live music.   The Chevelles played the Place, July 8. the 1010 pub had live music and Edmonton rockabilly band the Dice Cubes played a great show at the Slice  for very few people, Friday, July 8. 

The Slice had a lot of rockabilly in July as they also featured Hurricane Felix  July 2.


 There were more outdoor festivals this month.  

 Upside Downtown featured live music every Thursday afternoon outside Casa in Rotary Square including  Fortune Block aka Richard Inman and  Sweet Alibi's Amber Rose,July 21 plus Kevin Peters playing lead guitar, John Wort Hannam July 7.

There were five festivals, July 9. Honkers Pub featured a day long festival in their parking lot including Steve Keenan and more, July 9.  Pure Summer outside Casino Lethbridge featured Bamboo Guppies and Karen Romanchuk. Arts in the Park featured local surf band the Atomicos in Legacy Park. 

Jimmy and the Sleepers played Pavan Park,  July 23 for the Lethbridge Blues and jazz festival.


South Country Fair returned to Fort Macleod after a two year Covid hiatus. It was lots of fun as usual. Some of the highlights  were Jon Martin, the  Alien Rebels,  Hawksley Workman, Terra Lightfoot and more.

Lethbridge Girls Rock Camp Band Swap returned to the Slice, which was a chance for me to be on stage again, July 23.


Skinny Leigh aka Richard Doerksen returned home to Lethbridge to play  the Owl Acoustic Lounge, July 22.

Carolyn Mark and Kris Demanor are always a highlight. They returned to Owl, July 27.

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