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Romi Mayes putting her own stamp on the music of Lucinda Williams’ music for new tour

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Winnipeg blues rock singer songwriter Romi Mayes makes a long awaited return to Lethbridge to play the Slice, Thursday, May 18 to play her favourite Lucinda Williams songs.


Romi Mayes returns to Lethbridge to play Lucinda Williams music, May 18. Photo by Richard Amery

 Mayes, who has been a touring musician for 30 years has been taking a little break from the road. She played South Country Fair in 2015 and the Slice in 2014, but couldn't resist hitting the road again at the behest of John Scoles, owner of popular Winnipeg venue Times Changed who wanted to put on a special show in honour of popular alt country songwriter Lucinda Williams’ 70th birthday.


“The world is ever-changing and the music industry has been in flux right along with it. With the global economy shifting, gasoline prices soaring, and digital technology taking over as a stream and download world, you can imagine that it has been tricky for touring musicians to navigate how to make a living from hitting the road.  In about 2016 I realized I was losing more money that I was earning and looking at my career as a business, it was a failing business model. I still believed the music, the songs, the material were worthy and hardly a failure, but the business of touring seemed like a pipe dream for making a living anymore. I chose to take a long break from the road and only do one off shows here and there that made lucrative sense. I also haven't recorded new material in about eight years which really slows down the possibility of touring a new album. All that compiled together topped with the Covid cherry on top and it just seemed to make sense to stay close to home,” she wrote in an e-mail.


“John Scoles, the owner of our Winnipeg local Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club called me last fall (2022) and asked if I wanted to put a show together for January 26, 2023 to honour Lucinda Williams' 70th birthday. I had done a song or two of hers over the years but hadn't attempted to do 90 minutes of her material before. I needed a challenge and I knew this would be a perfect fit. That pushed my band and I to working hard to create this show. Once we had this show under our belt it was unanimous that we wanted to continue doing this show a little longer and tour it. I added a fifth member to the band for these shows and we have worked hard to get these songs ready. It is not so much a tribute as honouring her material. I can't sing like Lucinda and I really don't want to try to imitate her style. It's 90 minutes of Lucinda Williams songs done in my style. 


“I have seen her live before for sure and have been a big fan.

Back in the day when I heard Lucinda Williams’ album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was singing in country and bluegrass bands and identified much more with Lucinda Williams than the sweet bluegrass sounds of Alison Krauss. Lucinda’s songs were gritty and sexy and loose and breathy and that was not only tangible to me but also inspiring and achievable. 

As fate would have it, it wasn’t long before I found myself recording and touring with Gurf Morlix, the very man who had performed with and produced Lucinda for much of her career.

It has all brought me to today where I have the opportunity to share some of her kick ass repertoire on the road with a great band,” she wrote adding the show will be 90 minutes of Lucinda Williams songs, but none of Mayes‘ original music.

Last Updated ( Monday, 15 May 2023 20:19 ) Read more...

Apollo Suns bring horn powered cheer to Lethbridge to open tour

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 Winnipeg band Apollo Suns provided a cavalcade of horns to kick of their new tour at the Slice, Thursday, May 11. I rushed over as soon as I got off stage from Hatrix Theatre’s production of the Foreigner.


Apollo Suns rocking the horns at the Slice, May 11. photo by Richard Amery

 So I missed Makiisma’s set, but arrived in the middle of the sweaty as promised set from Apollo Suns who were caught in the groove and a chorus of cheerful saxophone and trombone.


 They’re an all instrumental band, so they just let the music flow with guitarist Ed Durocher a saying a few words to the sweatily dancing crowd in front of the stage.

I arrived as he was introducing their new single “ Pluto.”


 They sounded like a trimmed down Five Alarm Funk minus lyrics and  one drummer and the crazy costumes. But they  had a few moves.


 The six piece band featured alto saxophone player Aaron Bartel and trombonist  Benjamin Hill on trombone, Ed Durocher on guitar, keyboardist Anatol Rennie , bassist Fred Warner and drummer Tim Iskierski.

 Durocher grinned as he set down wah wah soaked rhythms and the occasional solo letting the horns shine. 


The band knelt down to build tension and leaped up wave style.


 Anatol Rennie set down Herbie Hancock style avant jazz textures on keyboards. 


 Durochers ended the show by saying ‘ this is a new song, so be kind,” as they ended with another upbeat number which had some ’70s style funky bass and sounded like the theme to a spy thriller movie. 


They were called back for an encore.


Rennie broke out a keytar to take centre stage. 


He danced on top of one of the speakers and lead most of the band, other than bassist Fred Warner and drummer Tim Iskierski who were keeping the rhythm on stage into the middle of the dancing crowd as if they were in New Orleans  in the French Quarter on a Friday night instead of the Slice oin a Thursday, to wind down their hot and tight show.


 They opened their Tour  in Lethbridge and are going to tour the West coast of the United States. 

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Friday, 12 May 2023 12:04 )

Kimberley MacGregor plays solo set of soulful new songs

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Vancouver Island based, Edmonton raised singer/ songwriter Kimberley MacGregor made a long awaited return to Lethbridge to play the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Tuesday, May 2.

Megan Brown and Kimberley MacGregor playing the Owl Acoustic Lounge, May 2. Photo by Richard Amery


 I missed half of your set but I arrived right in the middle of “ I Liked You,” one of my favourite songs from her latest album “Sitting with Uncomfortable Feelings,” which she was playing on acoustic guitar. She switched to her red Gibson style hollowbody electric guitar for the rest of her set


MacGregor was backed by Megan Brown on fiddle. But the show showcased MacGregor’s massive voice, dripping with soul and   blues.


She reminded me a lot of Rita Chiarelli .


 She dedicated “ Fill My Cup Up” to her strong female  friends.


 The hard copy of the new CD includes some B sides so she played them including “ the latest single “ Say You’ll Wait.”


 She wound  up her set and opened the stage to the Owl Acoustic Lounge’s open mic with another one of my older favourites “ Trouble.”

—By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Friday, 12 May 2023 11:58 )

Country singer Brayden King living the dream on tour and on American Idol

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Rising country star Brayden King is “living the dream’ with a new single getting play on many major radio stations and playing up to 200 tour dates a year including placing 55 on American idol.

In between all that, the 22-year-old musician, originally from Weyburn, Saskatchewan, hangs his hat in Lethbridge.

 he returns to the Slice on Tuesday, May 16 to open a western Canadian tour, which goes all over Alberta and B.C, and ends in Regina on June 3 and including a visit back home the night before.

Brayden King opens his latest tour in Lethbridge, May 16. photo Submitted

“ I’m a rocking country singer originally from Weyburn , Saskatchewan. I started my solo career about two years ago and just been hitting the road really hard, playing a lot of  shows and putting some new music out there . It’s been a fun ride so far, said King, who se single “ Living the Dream” is getting play on mainstream radio.


“‘It is one of the coolest things in the world, honestly. I never expected this song to do anything like it has been. So It a real blessing and I’m very thankful,” he said.

“ Living the Dream was written about a hangover and it’s kind of funny how it comes out with a positive sounding feel with but a bit of darker undertones in the lyrics. But it is definitely an anthemic sing-a-long song and people have been loving it. I wrote it with a couple of buddies of mine, Drew Shalka and Mark Maclure out of Edmonton just super stoked with how it turned out and people have been loving this one, so it’s a real blessing the have such a great response” he said.

King is planning to release a new single every eight week probably for the next two years.


“No real plans for  a larger project. We just want to get a bunch of content out there. Just testing the waters to see what people like. So we have a bunch of songs ready to go and we]re just going to throw them out there,” he said, adding music has always come naturally to him.

“ It’s always been  an automatic thing for me. I always just loved music. Ever since I could talk, I’ve been singing, so it’s kind of a no-brainer for me to do this because I’ve always just had a love for music and performing in my blood. So it’s my first choice and I’m loving it,” he said adding his mom always enjoyed singing and could play piano by ear but his dad isn’t very musical.


“But they both love music and there was always a lot of music going on around the hous . So it was definitely a very supportive upbringing for myself wanting to be a musician,” he said adding he took guitar lessons for a number of years and some vocal and piano lessons.

“Lots of self teaching as well but I wouldn’t be able to do that part without the base of lessons I had when I was younger,” he said.


 Brayden King placed 55th in American Idol this year. He noted one of American Idol’s  casting directors reached out to him about participating in the show after seeing his videos on Tik Tok. So he went to Las Vegas to participate and got thumbs up from judges Luke Bryan, Katie Perry and Katy Perry.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 20 May 2023 14:46 ) Read more...

Karen Romanchuk excited about stripped down fifth CD ‘Is It Just Me?’

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Lethbridge singer songwriter Karen Romanchuk’s fifth CD “ Is It Just Me” is stripped down to the basics.


It has been quite a few years since Romanchuk’s last CD, so she figured it was about time she recorded 10 of her newer original songs.


Karen Romanchuk has released her fifth CD ‘ Is it Just Me?’ By Richard Amery

Romanchuk recorded  two songs a week on weekends over five  or six weeks in January and February with Jason Gibson in his  home studio, Double Creek.


“It’s just me and my acoustic guitar,” she said adding though she doesn’t play live often, she has been getting audience requests for a CD of her new music.

“These are all some of my most recent songs,” she said.


“I had at least 20 going into the studio. But it’s all part of my history, she said.


“ The goal was to show the songs I was feeling that showed my improvement. I looked at the set lists from past shows and wanted to record the songs I’m still playing,” she said.

“ I’m really pleased with it,”she said.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 10 May 2023 14:33 ) Read more...
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