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Phao look forward to playing Dragon Boat races

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 The eleventh annual Rotary Dragon Boat Festival, taking place July 6-8  is one of Lethbridge’s most popular summer events.Phao play the Rotary Dragon Boat Races this Sunday. Photo Submitted
 In addition to approximately 70 teams competing with each other in a  three day marathon of rowing, drumming and  celebrating,  there is also a lot of live music.

 Phao , who have just released their second CD “Playing With Fire” are excited about being part of  the event for the first time.

“We’ll pump the crowd up a bit. it will be a fun time. They’ll be ready to party by the time we start,” said lead singer Mike Gnandt.  His brother and guitarist  Kevin Gnandt and bassist  Mike Dosso form the core of Phao, which started out as a Christian rock band, but have moved to a more mainstream, pop/ rock sound on their latest CD.

“We still get a lot of gigs because we are Christians, but we are a rock band,” he said.
“ I’ve been going to the Dragon boats since I was a kid,” he continued.
“We’re pretty stoked about it. It will be the first time we have played the new music locally,” he continued. They are very popular among the all ages crowd, but haven’t played a lot of local shows lately.

 They are stoked about a lot of things including the new CD and a  big tour of the United States, where they will be playing a lot of summer festivals.
 The new CD has already done well  plus they released a brief EP of the  songs from the CD in April, which also did well.

“The day we released it, it made number 32 of iTunes’ top 100 rock records list, and it stayed on there for three days. I was really surprised by it,” he said.
 They recorded their debut CD in Toronto at the encouragement of producer  Wayne Young who saw them at one of their shows and was so impressed he suggested they record a record with him.

 For the follow-up, they spent a week and a half in Nashville recording the CD in Februrary and released it at the beginning of June.
“There were so many great people there.  It’s a real community of people there. It’s not very ego driven. They just want to help people make good music,” he enthused of their Nashville experience.

“ There is everything  there— rock, country  and pop. The vibe there is incredible for singer/songwriters. A lot of bands tour out of these because it borders on seven states,” he observed.

Phao  themselves have changed  quit e a bit.
“We have a better sense of ourselves as a band,” he said.

“ We wanted to take a basically different approach to pop and rock music and  make it the best we could. We  wanted to show our versatility, so there are big rock songs, some pop punk and  some big ballads and have it all sound cohesive as one,” he continued.

 While he is a drummer, the band decided to move him to lead vocals while they pick up drummers for touring.

“My first love is drumming. In the beginning  we couldn’t find anyone to sing, so they said ‘why don’t you do it,’ And in the beginning we knew a lot of drummers,” he laughed.

They will be playing all ages shows all over the eastern United States and will return to Alberta to play  Shake the Lake in Sylvan Lake.

 They would like to play more locally, but he noted it is difficult to find a good all ages venue.
“We usually have to pack everything in including lights and sound system,” he said.

“Everyone has been so supportive and have opened their doors to us,” he said.

There are a lot of familiar faces playing  over the three days on the big stage outside the beer gardens next to Henderson Lake.  Lethbridge area country musician  Dusty Dee Litchfield opens up the show on Friday, July 6 at 4 p.m. There are also young talent including Vista Park.
 There are a lot of dance groups from throughout  the community including the Ammena Dancers, Rocky Mountain Cloggers and Desert Wind Belly Dancers. Hibikiya drummers will be there again as well as lots of familiar faces  including Bridgette Yarwood,
 Calgary pop duo Boy and Gurl  open up the day on Saturday, July 7 at 11 a.m. Blues band Texas Flood will be playing Saturday as will Soup of Flies.
 Sunday will be pretty exciting as well with Phao making their Dragon Boat Festival debut, Pow Navarro returning to the stage and the Coal Creek Boys playing at 1:30 p.m. followed by  the Desert Wind  Belly Dancers and Who’s Yer Daddy, who will end the event with some classic rock.

Henderson Lake— Rotary Dragon Boat Races:
4 p.m. Dusty Dee Litchfeild
5 p.m. Vista Park
 6 p.m. Opening ceremonies
6:30 p.m. Ammena Dancers
7 p.m. "to be confirmed"
8:30 - 10 p.m Band of Brothers


Henderson lake— Rotary Dragon Boat Races:
11:00 a.m. boy and gurl
12 p.m. Rose ceremony
12:30 p.m. Hibikiya Drummers
1 p.m. Alyssa Mcquaid
1:30 p.m. Salem Abraha band
2:30 p.m. Double Jack
3:30 p.m. Murray and Brian  Shockey
4:30 p.m. Rocky Mountain Cloggers
5 p.m. Texas Flood
6:30 p.m. Bridgette Yarwood
7- 10 p.m. Soup of Flies


11:00 a.m. Phao
12:30 p.m. Pow Navarro
1 p.m. "to be confirmed"
1:30 p.m. Coal Creek Boys
2:30 p.m.Desert Wind Belly Dancers
3 p.m. Who's yer Daddy

A version of this story appears in the July 4, 2012 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Friday, 13 September 2013 11:37 )  
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