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Outlaw Country Cruise 8 featured Mojo Nixon’s last show and lots of great music

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Once again, I headed south to escape the snow , but not the rain, to join my Outlaw Cruise family of the Outlaw Country Cruise 8 for good music , good times and , this time , shocking tragedies. Feb 4-9. Yes, this was the  one beloved  musician, all round character, iconoclast and Sirius XM  Outlaw Country  personality Mojo Nixon passed away on.

 There  was two distinct parts of the cruise— before Mojo’s last show and after.

Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr playing the Pool deck, on Outlaw Country Cruise 8. Photo by Richard Amery

Other than Miami being under a rare tornado warning when we boarded the steadfast Norwegian Pearl under a relentless downpour on Feb. 4, it was business as usual.

I signed up for an early boarding time to catch the country strains of Sarah Gayle Meech, who was a highlight of Outlaw Cruise 3, my first Outlaw Cruise.

 She has a new album out as  well.

 

 The weather cleared in time for headliners Blackberry Smoke who killed it on the pool deck.  “Get Well Soon Brit” was emblazoned on the bass drum  for Blackberry Smoke drummer/ band’s CD and merch artist Brit Turner who was away recovering from health issues and passed on this week. As usual they played a solid set of songs from their 20 some years playing music incuding a lot for their latest album “Be Here Now.”  I was hoping to get an early copy of it so was in line for merch and missed  Steve Earle joining them on stage  to play “Copperhead Road.” They didn’t have the new album on board anyway.

 Ever since the Outlaw Country Cruise expanded to six days it has become a marathon, not a sprint, both with alcohol consumption and making sure you catch everybody you signed up to see as well as discovering some great new talent.

 

 With 37 bands playing five stages, thankfully most performers played multiiple times, so there was a good chance to catch them, weather and tragedy permitting. Yet I stlll missed a few  shows including Steve Earle solo shows,  Chuck Mead, whose pool deck show was cancelled because of rain and a Nick Lowe jam with Los Straitjackets. I also missed Mary Gauthier’s sets but caught her  interview with Steve Earle about songwriting, which featured some crowd favourites.

 

 I caught the last part of Shinyrib’s  first night set on the atrium stage. I didn’t get to Hear “ I Don’t Give A Shit, but caught their hilarious cover of Rihanna’s “ Bitch Better Have My Money.”

  A lot of people signed up to see Virginia country band 49 Winchester, who are just beginning a tour with Corb Lund, and who played a solid show on the pool deck. I cut that show short to catch my first new discovery— Oklahoma musician Kaitlin Butts in the Spinnaker Lounge and missed Steve Earle solo show in Stardust. Elizabeth Cook missed the boat due to family reasons, so her fiirst show was cancelled . I cuaght her pool deck show later, wh9ch would rturn out to be her only show on the baot, but I also caught her dreat interview with Blackberry Smoke.

 

The Vandoliers played their usual energetic a tight set of punk infused original music with  horns, keyboards and bare chests in the atrium. With so much else to see, that was the only show of theirs I caught.

 Raylene Nelson, the eldest granddaughter of Willie Nelson by his son Billy Nelson Jr, was a highlight I caught a few times. They were playing for a packed room in the Magnum Lounge, playing their own mix of ukulele powered folk, country and alternative rock. 

 They wound up their set with a punkish Pretenders deep cut I think was “ Precious.”

 

Laid back country Picker and Warner Hodges on the Outlaw Country Cruise 8. Photo by Richard Amery

I caught Lucinda Williams’s wonderful set, which focused on  her latest  album “Stories From A Rock n Roll Heart.”

 The first day at sea was the day to ease into the rest of the cruise by sitting in on Sirius Sessions at Sea interviews.

 Steve Earle wanted to talk about Texas songwriters and Steve Earle instead of his interview subject Ray Wylie Hubbard.

 He missed an excellent opportunity to  ask  what it was like to work with a Beatle ( Ringo Starr,) an Eagle (Joe Walsh) and a Black Crowe (Chris Robinson), not to mention Don Was all on the same song “ Bad Trick, a highlight from Hubbard’s Co starring CD, until the self deprecating and ever humble Hubbard brought it up. He  delivered that story later on the pool deck. Earle  did get him to tell the story of “Redneck Mother” and  played  it with him.

 

 Hubbard observed he also played a song with Steve Earle  on his latest album Co-Starring Too, but couldn’t remember what it was (Hellbent For Leather), but noted it wouldn’t have been on the CD without Earle . He did play “Stone Blind Horses,” which is a duet with Willie Nelson on Co Starring Too.

I caught what turned out to be Mojo Nixon’s last interview, with up and up and comers .49 Winchester. Mojo Nixon interviews have always been a little surreal, but he played it straight with this one, sticking with the five Ws as he bonded with the rural Virginia band. Things got more typically  Mojo as he asked them the best way to test the quality of  moonshine.

The evening was the time to  catch the bands I signed up for .

 Los Straitjackets beamed through their  lucheador masks  a on the pool deck as they worked their way through a solid set of surf rock and instrumentals, but I cut that short for Ray Wylie Hubbard’s Stardust  set.

Hubbard played Stone Blind Horses,“Redneck Mother and  “Bad Trick” again. I was hoping for “Stolen Horses,” “ Screw you We‘re From Texas,” and maybe even “ Conversation With The Devil,” but it was not to be.

 Of course he played  his autobiographical epic “ Mother Blues , ending by deadpanning the ultimate inspirational line “ The days I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, I have really good days.” He used that song as an excuse to introduce his new band including  his son Lucas, who was playing lead guitar .

 He was going to expand on that set on his Thursday pool deck show and was starting to include special guests for his  pool deck  show on Thursday, but that set, which was to include “Redneck Mother” ended up being cut short.

Nikki Lane is one of the reasons I signed up for the boat, so caught all of her  shows. The now blonde, formerly brunette “Highway Queen”  stole a lot of the shows including the Lucinda Willaims tribute a few days later with a hot version of “Passionate Kisses.”

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Galt Museum shows history of Lethbridge photo-journalism in Extra! Extra exhibit

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Extra, Extra, read all about it— The Galt Museum focuses their lens on photojournalism from the Lethbridge Herald in a new exhibit,“ Extra! Extra! Eras of Photojournalism in Lethbridge which runs until Aug. 4.

Guest curator  Tess McNaughton  condensed an online exhibit Bobbie Fox  has been working on since Covid, into a set of panels and photos from Herald photographers Lloyd Knight and Orville Brunelle who were working in the ’40s and ’50s and David Rossiter and Ian Martens who represent the transitional era.

Guest curator Tess McNaughton looks at one of the photos in Extra! Extra! Eras of Photojournalism in Lethbridge. photo by Richard Amery

 

 The exhibit puts the lens on how photojournalism has  changed through the Analogue Era, Transitional Era, and Digital Era and how it has transitioned from analog cameras with film and darkrooms to the digital era where photojournalists are also expected to be multi-media journalists.

 

“We have a very large collection of photographs from the Lethbridge Herald, about 100,000 of them. We focussed on four photographers who have all won awards and showed the transition through the eras,” said Bobbie Fox, who noted she began working on the exhibit during the pandemic.

“ It really captures these photographer’s works,” Fox said.

 

“ These are all photographers who  have won awards  for their work,” Fox said, noting examples of some of these award photographs are included in the exhibit. She observed the exhibit covers photography from most of the twentieth century until now as Orville  Brunelle worked for the Herald from  the 1950s to ”70s before starting his own photography studio.

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March opens with a roar with a little punk rock and a lot of jazz and country

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March begins with a roar in the form of a lot of punk rock not to mention plenty of jazz and country

 Deathbridge  Disease celebrates 20 years with a big punk rock show featuring Calgary  punk /metal band Citizen Rage, Total Wolf, Chernoff, Berserker and Rad Dog.

 Doors open at 7 p.m The bands begin at 8 p.m.. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door.

 

Coyote Junction play Casino Lethbridge this weekend. Photo by Richard Amery

 But before that, Ellen Froese returns to host the open mic at the Owl Acoustic Lounge tonight with Jesse Northey.

Veronica Raine hosts the Slice’s open mic on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

 

It’s the end of the month, which means it is time for the Owl Acoustic Lounge’s monthly poetry open mic. Teri Petz is the host for the night, which begins  at 8 p.m.,Wednesday, Feb. 28.

 Open mics are back  at Theoretically Brewing. The Jam for Hunger is Thursday at 6 p.m.

 

The Lethbridge Folk Club’s open mic is on Friday at McKillop United Church

 It is a good week for jazz music. 

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Devin Cuddy excited to bring long awaited new music back to the Geomatic Attic

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Ontario roots/ rock musician Devin Cuddy makes a long awaited return to the Geomatic Attic , Sunday, Feb. 25 with guitarist Mike Tuyp and special guest, Ryland Moranz.

 Cuddy is looking forward to returning especially with a new album “ Dear Jane” to support.

“Well we’re just starting a little run of Alberta, Edmonton, Calgary and finishing down there in Lethbridge. So we’re hoping for a good time,” Cuddy said, just pulling into his motel in Edmonton.

 

 He enjoys touring with Mike Tuyp, noting it give them an opportunity to reimagine the songs and  enjoy some more musical space.

“We‘re doing a duo show, which we do on occasion just for these short runs.

 

It’s a fun grouping to do it in. It’s a lot different than playing with the band. There’s a little more space and  its sort of interesting to hear reworks of these songs. It’s very fun,” he continued.

 He is playing  keyboard snd piano for this tour.

 

 He is pleased with the new album “ Dear Jane,” though the release was delayed due to Covid.

 

“We put out an album in early November called ‘Dear Jane’ which is sort of a collection of songs we had and added to over the past five or six years. In fact we had quite a bit finished when the pandemic hit and sort of decided to sit on it instead of putting it out during that time because we always feel that we need to tour in order to get our music  and our record out there. So it sort of felt pointless or fruitless I’d say to do during the travel restriction times. So I feel very relieved to have it out. It’s a lot of stuff we’ve had finished for a long time. We did add the title track  just last year. It’s a mix of different stories and sounds and we’re very happy to have it out. The reception has been great. We’re very thrilled we can bring it to Alberta this weekend,” he said.

 

 He always like to add a cover to his CDs. For “Dear Jane,” he added a cover of Barney Bentall’s early ’80s hit “Come Back to me.” as a tribute to a family that he ah and his dad  , Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo, consider to be their western family.

 

“I’ve been very lucky to have played with Barney for many years and he even sings a little on it  as well which is a real thrill for us to have him doing some backups and cal and response. It was great,” he said.

 

“Our families have been friends our whole lives. So we grew up with the Bentalls. They’re sort of our west coast family and we do some fundraising and charity events with barney. We’ve played some shows in 2018 I believe. My brother, myself and Barney joined my dad Jim Cuddy on tour. so We did a double family band thing. So we’ve played with Barney in many different forms over the years. So it was extra exciting to record one of his songs that  I’ve played for many years,” he said.

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L.A. Beat is Lethbridge, Alberta's only online arts and entertainment magazine.

It is designed to support music, art, drama and other cultural endeavours in and around the city.

It will start out as an online presence and then evolve into a print edition which will be distributed at numerous locations in the city.

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