Fun in the sun with jazz and blues at Coulee Blues Festival


There was a lot happening on Saturday, Aug. 28 including the Raymond Music Festival, but Arts in The Park’s co presentation of the Coulee  Blues Festival in Civic Park with The Geomatic Attic and the Lethbridge Jazz Society took priority.

Jack Semple's fast fingers at the Coulee Blues Festival, Aug. 28. Photo by Richard Amery


There was no way I was going to miss Saskatchewan bluesman Jack Semple, though I missed Paul Kype and Texas Flood’s opening set.

It’s been several years since I saw him playing Casino Lethbridge with a band backing him, so I was l really looking forward to this show.


I was in time to be properly humbled by Semple who “warmed up” with a sizzling, finger bleeding version of “Classical Gas” after playing  the bluesy “Hard Times.”


His set  was heavy on covers, interspersed with a few originals soaked in blazing , fiery fretwork and soulful vocals.


 He has released a couple new CDs  including a tribute To Gordon Lightfoot and played stripped down Lightfoot classics like “ If You Could Read My Mind, which highlighted his acoustic guitar.


 He was playing a solo show, but made his acoustic guitar sound like several.


 Even more impressive than his  guitar playing was his soulful tenor voice,  which was soaked in R and B influences.


 The set focussed heavily on covers including the Gordon Lightfoot songs and a particularly soulful version of “Under the Boardwalk and “Stand By Me” which  let Semple show off his falsetto.

 Bu his blazing fretboard work  throughout humbled all of the guitarists in the audience, sweltering in the sun or refreshing themselves in the beer garden.

 He ended on a gospel note  with “Lord Have Mercy.”


Calgary’s Rondell Roberts band provided the jazz portion of  the afternoon thanks to plenty of trumpet and saxophone, but with a few pop covers from the ’80s, a touch of reggae and  a lot of soulful vocals.


Their laid back groove, throbbing bass and understated guitar was perfect for a sunny Saturday afternoon.

The played quite a few originals, but also added  ’80s moments including covers of Terence Trent D’Arby’s “Wishing Well,” and Lionel Richie’s “ All Night Long.”

 They also added some  reggae covers, before making way for Satellite and the Harpoonist, Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer’s Shawn Hall’s new project.


Rondell Roberts at the Coulee Blues Festival, Aug. 28. Photo by Richard Amery

The trio including Shawn Hall on Harp, keyboards and vocals, percussionist Theo Vincent from the Boom Booms and Blue Man Group/ King Missile III veteran Bradford Reed on percussion and a home made instrument called a pencilina. Reed thumped out a bass line on his pencilina, which looked like a gutted steel guitar, and tapped out rhythm on a few other strings.


 They focussed on songs from their new EP as well as on jams on a few revamped Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer songs.

This was all about the rhythm and strange, alien sounds Hall squeezed out of his harp with the help of a few guitar effects units and  synthesizers.


 They had a long jam on the Harpoonist and the axe Murderer’s “Mama In the Backseat.”


 The trio played a hypnotic hour set  powered by percussion , relentless rhythm and strange sounds.

 Unfortunately I missed Kat Danser’s closing set due to other commitments.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Bradford Reed playing with Satellite and the Harpoonist at the Coulee Blues Festival, Aug. 28. Photo by Richard Amery
Last Updated ( Thursday, 02 September 2021 14:18 )