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Billie Vegas release debut CD of original songs

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Beloved local rock band Billie Vegas have released their debut CD of all original material “One Hit Wonder.”
 They hope the lead single and video “Ride” will help make them more than that.
“Shawna Romolliwa singing with Billie Vegas. Photo by Richard Amery

We’d like to play outside of Lethbridge with this CD,” said lead singer Shawna Romolliwa. Billie Vegas includes Ryan “ The Doc ” Dyck on drums, Ray Banman on bass and Sheldon Arvay on guitar.
 They recorded the CD in guitarist Sheldon Arvay’s Hothouse Studios and officially released the CD with a show at Backstreet South at Streetwheelers, July 12.

“Sheldon is putting out the feelers for radio airplay  for ‘Ride.’ He’s really great with that sort of thing. So hopefully we’ll get some bites on that,” Romolliwa said.

The CD is a lot heavier than one would think, considering they are best known as a Top 40 cover band who cover an array of songs, though their original music is reminiscent of No Doubt crossed with Canadian classic rock along the lines of Toronto and the Headpins.
 A lot of the lyrics have to do with heartbreak.

“I’ve been writing songs since I was 14. But for this CD, we wrote the lyrics in the studio. I didn’t have to go home and think about them. Angry heartbreak lyrics just came out,” Romolliwa said.

“We tried writing a ballad, but it was dreadful,” she said.

“ We’re not really a love ballad band,” added bassist Ray Banman, who joined Billie Vegas two years ago around the same time Romolliwa did.

Billie Vegas have been playing around Lethbridge for the past nine years with different lineups.

“When Sheldon was talking about doing original music, I was really interested in that,” Romolliwa said. She also sings with local R and B orchestra Hippodrome and Bandemonium, though both of those bands aren’t as busy lately.

Ray Banman, who plays in several different bands ranging from pop to country rock bands, enjoys Billie Vegas’ heavier sound. He played in punk and metal bands when he was younger.


Lots of different kinds of music and drama this week

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Things pick up after a relatively slow week in Lethbridge due to South Country Fair.
 Some of the highlights this week are at the Owl Acoustic Lounge.
Nelson born, Montreal based “chill jazz” band Tofu Stravinsky make their first visit to Lethbridge to play the Owl Acoustic Lounge, July 25. They play laid back jazz music featuring keyboards and the sultry vocals of Sarah Orton. Locomotive Ghost were also expected to perform but had to back off the bill. There is no cover for the show which begins at 9 p.m.Bend Sinister return to Lethbridge, July 23. Photo by Richard Amery

The Owl Acoustic Lounge has a great folk show featuring Victoria musician Oliver Swain’s Big Machine, who stop by Lethbridge, July 24, taking a break from the summer folk festival circuit. Swain has played with a variety of well known folk and roots acts including the Bill Hilly band and Scruj MacDühk. He plays stand up bass, banjo and sings. He won’t be bringing the Big Machine to Lethbridge, though they are joining him for all of the folk festivals he is playing this summer. He will be accompanied by longtime collaborator Glenna Garramone. There is no cover for that show either. They bring back rock band Windborn, on July 26.

 The Slice crashes into action after taking a few days off  for the South Country Fair with organ powered alternative rock band Bend Sinister on July 23, who closed off the South Stage on Saturday night at the Fair.

 The Slice welcomes back local blues band Paul Kype and Texas Flood, July 25. Also for blues fans, Papa King, Darryl Düus and Evan Uschenko play the 1010 Pub, July 26.
 And for something a little different, welcome rapper/ beatboxer Hachey the MouthPeace on Monday , July 28.


Award winner David Vest to rock the piano in Bow Island

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Alabama born, Victoria based blues piano player David Vest is excited to return to  Bow Valley, for the second time, July 26.David Vest Plays Bow Island, July 26. Photo Submitted
 The first time he  was inspired a close brush with a freight train inspired “Freight Train Rolling,”  the first single off of his latest CD “Roadhouse Revelations.”

“I’ve only been there once,” said  the Maple Blues award winner from Victoria, doing some last minute packing for a trip to the  Winthrop Blues  Festival in Winthrop, Washington.

“We were driving  from the hotel to the theatre and came to these railroad tracks. It never  occurred to us there were active. But we saw this freight train hauling a car coming at us full tilt. And Jimi Bott, my drummer on that tour who has also played with the Fabulous thunderbirds said‘ I think I can beat this train.’ Luckily the other three of us talked him out of it,” Vest related.

“But I had the melody and the first three lines of the song right then,” he said.
 Bott won't join him on this quick  Alberta visit, which  also includes a stop in Edmonton, however Downchild rhythm section bassist  Gary Kendall and drummer Mike Fitzpatrick plus former Fathead guitarist Teddy Leonard will be joining him.

“ I met Gary four or five years ago at the Hornsby Island blues camp and he put this group together,” he said.

 They will be playing most of the new album, which is already topping blues charts in Canada.

“ And a few years ago “East Meets Vest”  was nominated for a Maple Blues award, it didn’t win. MonkeyJunk won. They're a great band and put out a great album. We’ll be playing some songs from it too (East Meets Vest) ,” he continued.

“It”s all about creating an experience for them,” he said.

He is excited about returning to the Bow Island Theatre.
 “I don’t think there is a musician who has played there who doesn’t want to come back to it,” he said.

“When I  first got there, my agent told me it was a theatre in the middle of nowhere and I wondered where all of the people came from. It’s a subscription series. You buy the entire season. And people come there from all over Alberta and the United States. It’s a labour of love and run by volunteers,” he said.

 “I guess they bought the theatre from the city which had slated it for demolition. But they renovated it. They got hardwood from old churches and a hired a sound guy who has toured with big rock acts like Journey and Triumph,” he said.
 The 70-year-old Vest has played with numerous blues greats including Big Joe Turner, who had  a variety of hits in the  ’50s and ’60s including “Shake Rattle and Roll,” “Honey Hush” and “ Flip, Flop and Fly.”


Nelson born indie chill band Tofu Stravinsky expand horizons in Montreal

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Nelson born, Montreal based band Tofu Stravinsky are an amalgamation of musicians from all over Canada who met while attending music school in Nelson, B.C. and bonTofu Stravinsky visit Lethbridge this week. Photo Submittedded over similar musical influences.
They come to the Owl Acoustic Lounge with Medicine Hat's Terra, July 25.

“ I’m from Alberta, our bassist (Pat McTaggart) is from Manitoba, our drummer (Edward T) is from Ontario and our keyboardist (Jon Perry) is from eastern Ontario,” said Tofu Stravinsky guitarist/ vocalist Tyler Toews from the middle of Ontario in Wabigoon Lake. Lead vocalist Sarah Orton is also from Ontario.

“We’re a chill band with guitar, bass, drums and keyboard and a great female jazz vocalist,” he described

“We’re a five piece indie chill band from Montreal,” Toews continued adding though they met in Nelson and spent, they have been based out of Montreal for the past year.

“ We moved to Montreal because we wanted to expand our horizons and it was a really good excuse to hit the road and drive across the country,” he continued.


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