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New CDs and live music returns in another trying year

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 Thanks to  Covid, we spent most of another year in a puritan hell of no music, no singing, no dancing, and no socializing outside of our bubbles at least until July when everything re-opened. Not that that helped as cases increased again in the fall.


 After Premier Jason Kenney  lifted all restrictions in July, it was all systems go on the local arts scene.

 We had a summer full of outdoor festivals while local venues cautiously  re-opened. A couple popular venues Sound Garden, Coco Vanilla, Average Joes and Beaches Pub closed, but new businesses opened as did a couple new venues reopened. The Place reopened in the space that was Average Joes.

Jack Semple playing the Coulee Blues Festival, Aug. 28. Photo By Richard Amery.


Though musicians  couldn’t play live or tour, a lot of them took the opportunity to record new music in the brief openings when we were allowed to meet in person.


 So we heard great new CDs from Adequate, Bailey Kate, Berserker, Fawns, Shaela Miller, John Wort Hannam, Queen of the Worms, Steve Keenan, Zojo Black and Tyler Brownfield’s new  project Hell Diablo and two from Taylor Ackerman’s Global Acid Reset, who released another CD at the end of 2020.


 New bands formed and other bands rejigged their line ups. Popular local singers Breanne Urban and Bridgette Yarwood both introduced new line-ups.

Luckily the weather co-operated this summer other than being excruciatingly hot and smoky as most summer events were outside.


Several local venues opted to do outdoor shows this year including Honkers Pub and Spectrum Ale Works.


We said good bye to some prominent members of the scene this year including Brent Sorge, who was always the life of the party, a huge supporter of the scene and always a joy to be around. He passed away on April 3.


The scene also lost Rick Maddeaux, July 8. He played bass for numerous local bands including Coda.  Another popular bassist Monte Swanson passed away on Dec. 20. He used to play with Driving While Blind and several other blues bands as well. 

 We also lost William , Ash’ Singer from the band Chief Mountain, who was a prominent part of the Lethbridge punk scene.


Covid is still concerning.

 New Years Eve shows are starting to be cancelled because of Covid. The Italian Canadian Club cancelled Their New Year’s Eve feast  with the Bamboo Guppies.

Biloxi Parish, Bailey Kate and Niku decided not to play New Year’s Eve at the Owl Acoustic Lounge because of Covid but DJ Penomenorm is still on deck 

Southern Comforts aka Jenn and Paul Kype, Zojo Black and special guest Shyloh Haberman play the Slice tonight at 7 p.m. There is a $15 cover.


James Oldenburg and Paul Holden are playing a late announced jazz show at the Firestone Lounge  from 7-9 p.m. Everything else is still a go as far as I know.


 I can’t get to everything and haven’t heard all the new CDs, but here’s are some of my highlights. May the best thing  that happened to you in 2021, be the worst thing that happens to you in 2022.


 Allan Roy Wilson released his CD “I Just Want You To Come home” at the end of 2020

 Taylor Ackerman’s Global Acid Reset was the first local musician to release a new CD Encephalon. He just released “Perfect Vision” a few months before.



Lethbridge Musical Theatre decided to try  doing Their Broadway open mics online



 March was tough on a personal note. Most of March was spent dealing with family matters and getting my dad into a senior’s home.

 Around the same time, I lost my freelance gig as the Lethbridge Sun Times shut down.

 And my big annual  winter treat  the Outlaw Country Cruise was cancelled.

 A lot of big festivals announced cancellations in March.

 The South Country Fair decided to cancel their July  festival for the second year in a row because of Covid.

 The ATB Dragon Boat Festival also announced  they were cancelling their popular June festival in Henderson Lake park.

Locally,  Steve Keenan released his new CD “In My Hands”,” one of several new local releases.


 Trevor Panczak ’s new single “Where I Go to Come back ” which he recorded pre-pandemic hit the Top 40 charts.

The Lethbridge And District Music and Speech Arts Festival  went online due to Covid as all participants had to submit their entries with a video.


 With no place to play other than home studios of living rooms, lots of local musicians released new music.

 Fawns released a new EP “Unsafe” in May, Funk trio Adequate dropped their self titled CD on June 11.


Everything reopened and the scene was going full bore as of July.

Peter and the Wolves  were the last band I covered  at the Slice before everything shut down, but returned to the Slice. July 2. 

Shakespeare in the Park returned to Galt Gardens, Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens and several other venues this summer, mostly outside.,  with their tenth anniversary production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Chevelles break in the new stage at the Place, July 9 and 10.

Honker’s has outdoor festival July 10 with lots of local bands

Adequate releases their debut CD at the Owl Acoustic lounge, July 9.

Street Machine Weekend returned in July, Coco Vanilla decided to do an outdoor festival, July 8-10 with numerous bands performing outside as well as an  acoustic stage inside.

Lethbridge Folk Club brings Winnipeg’s Big Dave mcLean to pavan park for an outdoor show, July 11, finished just before it started raining. It was an early  candidate for best blues show of the year, especially when  McLean called up Keith Catfish Woodrow, who opened the  show, to play a couple songs with him.

Berserker CD Release party at Slice, July 17.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 04 January 2022 09:46 ) Read more...

Most New Year’s Eve shows are still a go this week but cancellations are being announced

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Christmas has come and gone, now we have New Year’s and New Year’s Eve to look forward to. But with covid, what’s a go and what’s a no this week?

Stage Fright: the Def Leppard Experience plays the Place for New Year’s Eve. Photo by Richard Amery


A songwriter’s circle at the Slice hosted by Danica Sommer has been cancelled due to rising Covid cases.


But their, Dec. 30 open mic is a go.


 New West theatre winds up their run of their entertaining new show Ode to Joy at the Yates Theatre. It winds up on Dec. 31 with  a 1 p.m. matinee and 7:30 p.m. evening show.

 For New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31. Stage Fright: the Def Leppard Experience with special guests the Bridgette Yarwood  band  show is a go at the Place. Tickets are $20. Doors open at 7 p.m. and will likely end early as alcohol sales are supposed to end at 11 p.m.


 The LA Chefs’ Chevelles annual Christmas party is back at the Coast  Lethbridge Hotel.

 Cocktails are at 6 p.m. followed by a five course meal with music from Cal Toth.

 The Chevelles will rock in the new year after that. Tickets are $93.45 through Eventbrite.


 The New Testaments with Chris  Mercado are still playing the Canadian Brewhouse,  but without accompanying acts and without Danica Sommer. Tickets are $20. The fun begins at 8:30 p.m., but there is a discount if purchased in advance through Eventbrite.


 Chef Stellas is serving up a  prime rib dinner at   The German Canadian Club for New Years Eve with music by Joel Spires.

 Doors open at 6 p.m. , dinner is at 7 p.m.,  The music begins at 8 p.m.. Tickets are $47.25 for members, $57.75 for invited guests.. Tickets must be picked up by Dec. 22.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 29 December 2021 12:54 ) Read more...

New West Theatre brings joy and happiness through music and comedy

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If you’re feeling down, Mrs. Brown, catch New West Theatre’s new show “Ode to Joy,” before it closes on Dec. 31.

 Because they , true to the title, will bring you joy and buckets of it.

 As expected, there are a lot of smiles, lots of popular hits ,  lots of jokes and lots of laughter.


Alinafe Lupwayi performs in New West Theatre’s production of Ode To Joy. Photo by Richard Amery

 The talented cast of  Scott Carpenter, Erica Hunt,Katie Fellger, Alinafe  Lupwayi, Ashley Thomson and Kyle Gruninger plus a hot band of Kathy Zaborsky, Scott Mezei, Greg Paskuski and Keenan Pezderic start the show with a cheerful version of the Edgar Winter Band’s “Free Ride.”

Everybody gets to shine in the show.


 One of my favourites featured  Ashley Thomson dressed as a cheerleader  as she belted out “ Hey Mickey,” which, of course featured the guys  coming ion stage also dressed as cheerleaders as Thomson interjected “No, this is my song,” as sheKatie Feller joined them dressed as a football player.


In addition to  more comedic moments, there were more straight ahead, moving number, such as Kathy Zaborsky singing a gorgeous version of Don McLean’s  Vincent Van Gogh tribute “Vincent,” as  Van Gough paintings  appeared on the backdrop behind her.


 Set 1 also featured a beautiful, more or less a Capella Version of “ i Can See Clearly, as Pezderic added subtle drums and Mezei added gentle guitar.


Katie Fellger belted out Fleetwood  Mac’s “Don’t Stop” let Mezei cut loose on a note perfect version of the guitar solos as well as  showing off Fellger’s powerful voice.

Another Highlight was Kyle Gruninger belting out Alanis Morissette’s hit “Hand in my Pocket,” complete with harmonica solo and the bad word.


Set two was the strongest half of the show.

 It opened with  the female  cast members belting out “I Want Candy,” but it quickly got better.


  Erica Hunt and Scott Carpenter’s Scottish film critics, replete in kilts, lead the cast in a rousing version of “ I”m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” which was a great segue into to their film critics bit, which only covered the new Ghostbusters movie.

Last Updated ( Friday, 24 December 2021 15:04 ) Read more...

Rob Ursel makes long awaited return to Lethbridge stage

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I missed  another presentation of  TJ Waltho’s A Charlie Brown Christmas at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Saturday, Dec. 18, but was glad to catch Rob Ursel. He was supposed to play again with Waltho’s “A Charlie brown Christmas,” Dec. 23 at the Slice  but he had to cancel because of illness.


I haven’t seen Ursel since 2013, but was glad to finally catch him again with a band including TJ Waltho on Keyboards and the Owl’s piano, bassist Paul Holden and drummer Brad Brouwer, who were just warmed up after performing the soundtrack to “A Charlie Brown Christmas” plus two back up singers dubbed “the Little Somethings.”

Rob Ursel and his band at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Dec. 18. Photo by Richard Amery


Ursel strummed acoustic guitar to start off his set as he played a set of humourous, upbeat, original country/ blues music with a  touch of  jazz with Waltho, Brouwer and Holden on board.


“Every Angel, Every Devil” was reminiscent of  blues classic “St. James Infirmary.”


He dusted off an old song, quipping it was about “a Canadian hero” David Suzuki, which I remembered from his last show here in 2013.


He followed it up with “Everything is Gold.”


“Big Bamboo was a crowd favourite.  He switched to electric guitar for the last couple of songs including a little bit of surf music. TJ Waltho played  a hot keyboard solo.

He was called back for an encore of David bowie’s “Modern love,” before calling it a night.

—By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Friday, 24 December 2021 14:38 )

Honkers regulars help Captain Morgan Dyck with successful fundraiser

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As usual,  the music scene came together to help out with a few songs, Dec. 18.

 A group of Honkers Pub regulars took the stage to help  “Captain” Morgan Dyck, who is fighting Stage 4 brain cancer.


The Trippy Hippys playing Captain Morgan Dyck’s Dec. 17 fundraiser at Honkers Pub. Photo by Richard Amery

 There was  a $10 cover at the door and a silent auction which raised $12,420 for Morgan Dyck’s medical and transportation expenses.


The show started in the afternoon with Chuck Reinhart at 5 p.m. followed by  Earl Halmrast.


 I arrived in time to catch most of Andy MacNamara’s 6 p.m. set. He covered a variety of ’90s and 2000s hits including Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train” but he ended on a Celtic note with Great Big Sea’s crowd pleaser “Is’e The Bye”


The Trippy Hippys’ Laurie Wintoniak and Joy Pizzengrilli showed off their range and vocal harmonies, playing everything from old country to soul to ’80s pop.

 They started their set with “Teach Your Children Well,” and followed it with Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again,” then went ’80s with Doug and the Slugs’ “Day By Day.”

Andy MacNamara playing Captain Morgan Dyck’s Dec. 17 fundraiser at Honkers Pub. Photo by Richard Amery

 They were in the middle of “Under the Boardwalk” when I had to leave to do my radio show.

 But there was still a lot of fun yet to come with a new country band Circle Ridge Country, bluesman Steve Keenan, local Tragically Hip Tribute the Hip Trip and Driving w While blind, winding up their show followed by an open stage.


 Honkers Pub owner Vicky  Vanden Hoek called the fundraiser a “huge success” in an e-mail and presented him with the proceeds on Dec. 24.


 Because of new Covid restrictions, Honkers Pub has decided to cancel their Thursday karaoke beginning Dec. 30 until restrictions lift as well as all Christmas parties.


But live music will continue  from 7-11 p.m. on Fridays and 5-9 on Saturdays.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Friday, 24 December 2021 14:19 )
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