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South Country is a family afFair

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This weekend most of Lethbridge's roots/ blues/ world music community head west to Fish and Games Park Fort Macleod for the annual South Country Fair every July for a weekend of great music, fun in the sun and swimming in the Oldman River. So a lot of people are getting excited about July 18-20 and the opening volunteer soiree, July 17 featuring performances by Linda McRae and High Society.Blackberry Wood's Kris Wood will be a highlight of the South County Fair. Photo by Richard Amery

“ I hope people will come out and have a good time and be kind to their neighbours,” said founder/ organizer Maureen Chambers.

“ I’m looking forward to seeing all of my people again. This is the biggest family reunion I’ve got, so this is what I get excited about,”  she said.
 They have an eclectic selection of musicians performing this year from Cousin Harley’s take on rockabilly to Siberian/ Chinese electro folk from Namgar.
“It’s all good,” she said adding the grounds have a lot of mosquitoes.
“So it will definitely be a bug juice weekend, but once you get a lot of people there stomping on the grass, it's good,” she said adding the grounds had a little bit of flood damage, but nothing compared to last year.

“We had some, but we rerouted some water,” she continued.

 She said there aren’t any changes to the festival this year.
“ I think we have a well oiled wheel, so there was no need to make any changes,” she said. Advance ticket sales were strong so they are expecting about the same number of people as last year.”
 They have a little bit of indie rock from Saskatoon's the Young Benjamins and a lot of familiar faces like Little Miss Higgins and Blackberry Wood who often play Lethbridge.

Vancouver based accordion/ punk/folk songwriter Geoff Berner is excited to share a stage with Calgary's poet laureate Kris Demeanor for this year’s South Country Fair. They play the South stage on Saturday at 6:15 p.m.
He is always excited to play South Country Fair and especially to do another show with Kris Demeanor.

“ We both enjoy each other's songs a lot. He plays a few of mine and I play a few of his. It’s very relaxed. We get on stage and take turns playing. It’s a nice fit,” he said.
“ It’s a really informal song symposium,” he continued.
Workshops are always a lot of fun as you get several different artists on stage listening to each other's songs and sometimes playing on them.

Kris Demeanor has a Sunday afternoon workshop scheduled for 12:30 p.m. with Maria Dunn, Declan O’Donovan and Clinton St. John. There is a noon workshop on Saturday featuring Little Miss Higgins, Steve Brockley and Ryan McNally. And the always popular mayoral address workshop features retiring mayor Mark Sadlier Brown, Linda McRae and Maureen Chambers on Friday at 6 p.m.

“ I have a lot of friends out there, so it will be great to see everyone again. I played a wedding at the Theatre, the Empress,” Berner recalled.
“ It’s going to be a really great time,” he continued.

There is also a solid line up of poets performing on the Lotos Land Stage including Kris Demeanor, who is on Friday night at 9 p.m.
Paul Pigat aka Cousin Harley has many fond memories of South Country Fair.

“I remember one year I was playing and there was this Mongolian band playing before me and you could see two storm systems moving in and they met right over the fair. And it was a torrential downpour. I thought they'd have to cancel the fair, but when I started to play, it just stopped,” he recalled.
 He loves playing the South Country Fair.
 “ I have a lot of good friends there now, so it is always great to see them again,” he said.

Saskatoon based band the Young Benjamins are excited about their first visit to the South Country Fair.
“ We’ve been to Ness Creek and the North Country Fair and people give the South Country Fair the thumbs up,” said frontman/ guitarist Neusha Mofazzali. The classically trained  band members began as a folk band but have evolved into an indie rock band.
“We don’t know what to expect,” he continued.

“We think the festival is more traditional music, so we‘ll probably play a lot of our more violin driven traditional songs and maybe some indie rock songs,” he continued.
 They play Saturday, July 19 at 10 p.m. on the South Stage.
 Gillian Moranz is excited about booking the east stage or the fifth year in a row.
“ South Country Fair has been in my family since before I was born. My brother was six months old during the first fair and I came along three years later,” said Moranz, daughter of Maureen Chambers and Trent Moranz who helped found the fair 28 years ago.
“So this fair is like the middle child of our family,” she said adding she is always excited about the East stage and the fair.

Little Miss Higgins and the Winnipeg Five visit the South Country Fair this year. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s fun. It’s really fun to book a lot of my favourite musicians. Especially when it turns out they are already really good friends with each other. So it is really exciting to see them interact with  the other people, the audience and the bands,” she continued.
She is excited about the entire lineup of the fair.
“We have the Crooked Brothers. They going to be closing off the East Stage on Sunday. So it is a nice way to end the fair,” she said.

 “ And we have two members of High Society, Chelsea D.E. Johnson and Adam Farnsworth. High Society played last year and were a hit with everyone. They'll be doing a duo project this year. And we have Ryan McNally who is from Whitehorse and Montreal. But I could go on and on until there isn’t anymore,” she continued.
She always books her stage with a lot of variety.
“ Things are coming together. I spend the winter booking the acts and all of the details come together during the last two weeks,” she said.

“ I look at it as a buffet with a lot of different tastes. I want to be different but I also want to showcase all of the local talent was have and the talent from across the country. I want to create a place where people can just come and hang out for the whole day if they want to,” she continued.
“After five years, it’s a lot of fun but it is also a big learning curve.

“I always come away from it feeling rejuvenated,” she said.
Jana MacKenzie has been volunteering for the South Country Fair since she was 16 and has been artistic director for the south stage for the past five years. She was  artistic director for the east stage for five years before that. She enjoys the community aspect of the fair.
“I like being there and seeing how people treat each other,” she said.

She is excited to see how people react to the South stage line-up.
“ I’m excited about Maria Dunn. And Kim Churchill opened for Billy Bragg, so I wanted to get him. And I’m pretty excited about seeing the Young Benjamins,” she continued adding she is also excited about  The Good Co. coming from Seattle and Bend Sinister.
“ And we’ve got Little Miss Higgins this year. She usually plays the Ness Creek Festival, which is the same weekend,” she continued adding she is also excited about  songwriter Ryan McNally and Decaln O’Donovan.
 She noted she books a lot of acts that she hopes audiences will enjoy and that she wants to see.

“So I book a lot of acts I want to see so it’s for purely selfish reasons, the rest is filling in the holes,” she continued.
 She is excited about bringing back Mongolian/ Siberian electro jazz group Namgar.
“We brought them in about five years ago, but we got a lot of rain, so the audience all took cover. So we wanted to bring them back,”she said.
In addition to music, she is excited about the evening film component for the festival supplied by Prairie Tales.

Tickets for the festival cost in advance $90 weekend ($80 students /seniors); Friday or Saturday Evening $45 ; Saturday or Sunday Afternoon $30 ; Saturday All Day $55. At the gate they are $120 weekend ($110 seniors/ students)  ; $50 Friday or Saturday Evenings ($45 students/ seniors) ; $30 Saturday or Sunday afternoon; Saturday all day $60.

Schedule Friday July 18

South Stage
5:30 p.m.:Bunch of hearts Choreo
 6 p.m.: Workshop mayor address with Linda McRae, Mark Sadlier Brown, Maureen Chambers
7 p.m.: Clinton St. John:(folk/ psych folk)
 8 p.m. Poet Greg Ritallin Frankson
 8:15 Stephanie Niles (jazz/ punk/ barrelhouse)
9:15: Songwriting competition winner Sarah C Louise
9:30 p.m.: Little Miss Higgins (country/ jazz)
 10:45 p.m. Namgar (World)
12:01 Cousin Harley (Rockabilly)
Friday night Jammers: Watson Bryant Duo

 Schedule Saturday July 19

South Stage
 Noon Dance Workshop
1 p.m. Workshop Little miss Higgins, Steve Brockley, Ryan McNally
2:10 p.m. Maria Dunn (folk)
3:10 p.m. poet: Andre Prefontaine
3:30 p.m. Declan O’Donovan (blues)
4:30 p.m. volunteer photo
5 p.m. : Workshop Aroara, Stephanie Niles, Blackberry Wood
 6:15 p.m.: Geoff Berner and Kris Demeanor (folk/ rock/ klezmer)
7:20 p.m. Mamselle Ruiz (Jazz/folk/ Latin)
8:30 p.m.  Aroara (wold/fusion)
9:45 p.m.  Songwriting contest winner Curtis Glas
10 p.m. Young Benjamins (indie rock/folk)
11:15 p.m. Good Co. (jazz/electronica)
12:30 a.m. : Bend Sinister (rock/pop)
East Stage

Noon— Tin and the Toad
 1:05 p.m. Jennie Thai (jazz/ pop)
2:10 p.m.: Ryan McNally (blues/ folk)
3:15 p.m.: Adam and Chelsea  from High Society) (rock/ jazz/ folk)

4:30 p.m. Blackberry Wood

5:25 p.m. Whiskey Sheikhs

 Lotos land
6 p.m. PT for young Audiences
10:30 Heliosols ( CineImagine;'s H Short)
12:30 a.m. CSIF film projection
Saturday Night jammers:  "The" Tod Robinson will be rocking out the Jam Stage with Chris "Hendo the Barber" Henderson on Saturday night. These heavyweights of the Lethbridge scene boast impressive pedigrees: Jil, The Vespas, John Gleu 3 and Guerrista to name but a few. Tod and Chris will keep you up all night with stompin' grooves and funky chords. Then after the sun comes back up, party in Tod's van! (Actually don't do that, Tod is a pilot. Pilots need rest.)


Schedule Sunday, July 20

South Stage
 Noon: workshop: Maria Dunn, Declan O’Donovan, Kris Demeanor, Clinton St. John
1:40 p.m.: Steve Brockley (Alt country)
 2:50 p.m.: Poet Dia Davina
3:15 p.m.: Kim Churchill (folk/ blues)
 4:20 p.m.: Workshop Bend Sinister, Good Co. Twin Peaks
East Stage
Noon: Little Gill's Big Grass jam
1:05 p.m. David Newberry (folk/ singer songwriter)
 2:10 p.m, Twin Peaks (folk)
3:15 p.m. Crooked brothers (folk/ alt country)

A version of this story appears in the July 16, 2014 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 16 July 2014 10:46 )  
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