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New West Theatre's presentation of Jake’s Gift is a “love letter” to veterans

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When Montreal playwright and performer Julia Mackey went to France for the  60th Anniversary of  D-Day back in 2004, she had no idea it would change her life as much as it did.Julia Mackey performs Jake’s Gift, Oct. 1-11 at the Sterndale Bennett Theatre. Photo by Richard Amery
After spending a week interviewing Canadian, British and American veterans and  Normandy residents,  she wrote her one person show Jake’s Gift, started performing it at Fringe festivals in 2007 where it was an immediate hit, and she has been touring Canada with ever since.

 The New West Theatre presentation runs at the Sterndale Bennett Theatre Oct. 1-11.

 She returned 10 years later for the 70th anniversary.
“ It was very emotional to come back to the place  which it is part of,” she said.

 She even translated it into French and performed it twice right on the shores of Juno Beach.
“There was woman in the audience who spoke French and she was shaking her head throughout the show. Her family lives in the Queen’s Rifle’s House which I talk about and pointed to it out  the window. Afterwards she came up to me and said  ‘My name is Isabelle and you’ve just told my story,” said Mackey, who is still amazed by how the show has affected people.

“We had 30 people there that first night and 35 the next,” she said, noting her partner Dirk Van Stralen is directing the production.

“We played a theatre in Bayeux and the window was open so you could hear the waves crashing. And I could actually point to the house where the play takes place,” she enthused.

“ It is about a Second World War veteran named Jake who goes to Normandy for the  sixtieth anniversary of D-Day to find his brother Chester's grave. He meets a 10-year-old girl, Isabelle, who is part of one of the families he helped  liberate. She encourages him to find his brother’s grave. She helps him remember,” said Mackey, who plays all four characters in the play—  the 80-year-old veteran Jake,  Isabelle, the 10-year-old girl, her 70-year-old  grandmother  who was Isabelle's age during the battle and a 30-year old teacher.

“ I consider it to be a love letter to all veterans whether they are from the Second World War to Afghanistan,” she described.


Lots of laughter and rock this week

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 Jonas and the Massive Attraction bring the rock to Bo Diddly’s, Sept. 30 to rock out September with big hits like “Big Slice,” Burn Bright,” top 15 single “The Deep End” and Top 20 hit “Seize the Day.” The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $15 in advance, $20 at the door.Jonas and the Massive Attraction return to Lethbridge this week. Photo by Richard Amery

The other big rock show is at the Slice, Oct. 3 with Lab Coast and Dead Soft who help rock in Blueprint Records’ anniversary this year.

 If you like big rock with a touch of pop, don’t miss Victoria pop rock band Isobel Trigger making their first visit to Alberta and Lethbridge with a show at the Slice, Oct. 2.


Isobel Trigger enjoying exploring on first official tour

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Victoria based pop/ rock band Isobel Trigger are enjoying their first official tour which brings them to Lethbridge for the first time at the Slice, Oct. 2  with Rend and the Utilities.

“ It’s been great. We’re in Dawson Creek and we just had breakfast at this funky ’50s diner,” enthused lead vocalist Felicia Harding.

Isobel Trigger come to Lethbridge,Oct. 2. Photo submitted
“And Brett (Faulkner), our guitarist has a brother in Fort. St. John. So we went to visit him,” she continued. Bassist Kyle Lowther and drummer Ariel Tseng complete the lineup of the band.
“  We‘re definitely pop rock I like to say we’re alternative pop rock,” she said.

They use  a lot of synths in their music.
“ I just started playing  keyboards a couple years ago. They echo our times. We’ve become more like cyborgs with our cell phones and technology. So synths really echo the time we’re living in,” she said adding the first two singles off their EP “Dust and Bones” and “Tiger Shark” feature a lot of  keyboards.

 She said the band is looking forward to their first visit to Alberta.

“It will be different than B.C, so it will be interesting to experience,” she continued.
They tour quite a bit around Vancouver Island and play a lot in Vancouver and go up to Smithers in northern B.C., but touring is still quite new to them.

“This is our first official tour. We love it. We all live together, so we’re like family. It’s been fun exploring and  seeing new places. And playing shows every night has been exciting,” she said.


Rend covering new ground on new tour

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Edmonton alternative rock band Rend are excited to come to Lethbridge in support of their EP “Winter to Summer” and latest single and video “Scars,” when they visit the Slice, Oct. 2 with Isobel Trigger and the Utilities.Rend comes to Lethbridge, Oct. 2. Photo submitted

“ We’re in Prince George now, and it is a long  way from Lethbridge,” said lead vocalist Carol-Lynne Quinn, who just traveled 14 hours from Victoria from this show.

“It‘s going really well,” she said adding the band is doing short burst of mini-tours.

“We’ve played a lot of cities we haven’t played before and we’ve made contact with a lot of radio stations we haven’t met before and we’re meeting a lot of new people,” she said.

“ I think meeting all of the new people has been the highlight,” she continued.

 She noted the band has found their stride and their sound with the EP which is more straight ahead alternative rock along the lines of bands like Metric, Paramore, a touch of Alanis Morissette and a smattering of the Foo Fighters.
They are excited about their live show.


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

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