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Geoff Berner combines politics with dry humour

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A good crowd came out to hear Vancouver based punk accordionist Geoff Berner at the Slice, Wednesday, Dec. 3. Unfortunately Rae Spoon had the flu so wasn’t able to play as scheduled.Geoff Berner returned to Lethbridge. Photo by Richard Amery
 Burt Berner is a bit of enigma. You never know whether to laugh or take to the streets protesting and breaking things after one of his shows which tackle everything from religion to police brutality and urban gentrification. While I missed the first set, I caught a solid set which began with “ Praying to The Volcano God” which immediately drew cheers from the approximately 50 people present. He captivated most of them with just himself and his accordion.
 Hits lyrics have deadly serious  undertones but his deadpan delivery  of them, not to mention his between song patter, just makes you want to smile at the very least.
“Settling of Accounts” was definitely one of these straddling the line between the serious and the satirical about trying to get money from shifty bar managers.

“ Unlistenable Song” about “a song so good you don’t ever want to hear it again” was a highlight though he said Rae Spoon usually sings it better than he does. He sounded pretty darn good and hilarious.
 He tapped into his Jewish roots for a song  by a Yiddish poet called “It’s Burning ” for which he alternated the Yiddish lines with the English translations.
“ I feel like I’ve been hitting you with a lot of heavy stuff, so I’ll play something a little lighter,” he said, launching into “ When Didi Gets Her Donkey.” He followed that up with a pair of songs about the gentrification of his hometown of Vancouver including a song about tearing down landmarks and low income neighbourhoods where artists live to build expensive condos.
 He ended his show around 11:30 p.m. by getting the crowd to sing along with “Dalloy Polizei.”
— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Mother Mother put on fun, fun show of pop pop music

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Due to the Huron Carole, I missed USS's opening set for a sold out  Mother Mother show at Average Joes, Dec. 2.Mother Mother entertain a full house. Photo by Richard Amery

Mother Mother played a solid set of fun, fun, pop, pop music full of  seizure inducing strobe lights, multicoloured lasers and more importantly, toe tapping beats,  catchy keyboard hooks and plenty of addictive vocal harmonies with ambient guitar hooks   as well.

They started the show off with the  lights dimmed and with the crowd singing along to their new single “Get Out the Way” from their new CD “ Very Good Bad Things.”Mother Mother put on a light show. Photo by Richard Amery

 There were plenty of songs from the new CD sprinkled throughout the set as near the end of the show, frontman Ryan Guldemond thanked the crowd for letting them play some new stuff. Their bass heavy set sounded like a mix of  the Pixies, the B -52s and Men Without Hats as they sang some superb vocal harmonies courtesy of Molly Guldemond and Jasmin Parkin and played addictive rhythms full of catchy keyboard hooks. 

Many of the highlights were tracks from their last album “Sticks” including the title track and crowd favourite “ Let’s Fall in love.”

Mother Mother shows their crowd some love. Photo by Richard Amery
The lyrics had plenty of animal imagery and had the crowd singing along with much of the set.
While the band was supremely tight, the set dragged in places with more ambient, droning material.

 I ended up moving to the back of the packed house after being deafened by booming drums thundering through the speakers and blinded  by seizure inducing strobe lights.

— By Richard Amery, L.A.  Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 10 December 2014 15:26 )

Huron Carole full of love, peace and lots of stories

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Actor, musician and philanthropist Tom Jackson has a way about him of making everyone in his vicinity feel like they are his best friend.
 He made a room full of new best friends at  the 2014 edition of the Huron Carole at a sold out  Yates Memorial Theatre, Dec. 2.

“I love you,”  Jackson greeted the room, backed by soft keyboard accompaniment, dressed in simple jeans, leather jacket and bright red scarf.
He chuckled as he observed a mewling baby in the crowd as  “this is the future.”Tom Jackson incorporating props into  the Huron Carole 2014. Photo by Richard Amery

 While he brought the Huron Carole  to Lethbridge just last year with much the same line up of One More Girl, Shannon Gaye, Beverly Mahood and newcomer Don Amero, this year’s show was markedly different.
He started the evening with a solo show, which was equal parts stand up comedy,  Christmas carols,  storytelling and motivational speech as he told the story of how he started the Huron Carole back in 1987 and in the process ended up raising over $200 million or food banks all over Canada.

He had an array of props which he used to illustrate bad puns and a video screen featuring footage of chilly winter scenes illustrating the grim undertones of some of the stories of his early life growing up on a reserve and on the streets of Winnipeg, being addicted to drugs and eventually getting addicted to helping people.Huron Carole 2014 welcomed back some familiar faes to Lethbridge. Photo by Richard Amery

 He told a humourous story about  visiting a friend of his brother  Bernie and noticing he didn't have a Christmas tree , which lead to  them stealing part of the trees and lights decorating  the “parliament” buildings, which lead to police tracking them down by following their footprints in the fresh fallen snow.

On the more serious  side, he told a story about being on the streets looking for his next fix and trying to find the next party then seeing a woman with a young baby and trying to give her his scarf.

“You all have the capacity to make the world a better place,” he advised the audience.

“ You are all philanthropists,” he continued.

“ You can all change your lives. You don’t need to be trapped.”
That lead to the tipping point and the event that lead to  starting  the Huron Carole — seeing a man lying bundled up in the middle of the street, mistaking him for a garbage bag and deciding to help him while other people walked past him, ignoring him.

“That could have been me,” he said adding he went to the closest soup kitchen and offered to help, which in turn lead to Jackson calling up his musician friends to put on a fundraising concert at the Massey hall, which failed, but lead to a smaller concert and more importantly, trucks full of food donations for the food bank.

 That was the cue to invite the current cast of musician friends, One More Girl,  Beverley Mahood, Don Amero and Shannon Gaye playing for the Huron Carole.
 They sang and played background music to his vocals on several Christmas  themed songs, for which he got the audience to sing along.
 They took a break after that before beginning the official Christmas concert portion of the event.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 10 December 2014 15:14 )

Violist Rivka Golani to play fundraiser for FNMI bursary students

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Internationally renown violist Rivka Golani has fostered a strong relationship with  First Nations and Southern Alberta over the past nine years.Rivka Golani rehearses for her  Dec. 12 concert. photo by Richard Amery

 She will be playing her second annual fundraising concert for the University of Lethbridge FNMI First Nations and  Metis Bursary, Friday, Dec. 12 at CASA.
The Israeli born Golani moved to Canada in the mid-’70s and taught at the University of Toronto and began her solo career before moving to London, England.
The concert at CASA, Dec. 12 features Golani, pianist Deanna Oye and percussionist Adam Mason.

“It is an ongoing nine year project with First Nations,” she explained, rehearsing for the concert in Deanna Oye’s office.
She first became familiar with the area through masters classes she held through through the Fort Macleod International Festival and even received an honurary doctorate from the University of Lethbridge in 2013. She got to know several First Nations people upon first playing Southern Alberta.

“I was touring with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and had a few free days, so I asked my manager to please fill them with shows at places where nobody goes and one of them was Fort Macleod,” she said adding that performance grew as she decided to teach several masters classes and lead to the Fort Macleod International Festival.

“The first time I got there, my first thought was I was in a Fellini film. There was only one street. I didn’t think anybody would come out, but the first concert was full,” she recalled adding one of the students  in the first Master’s class, Brooke Day, eventually moved to London, England and got married there.
While raising money is important for the bursary, she said it is more important to inspire.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 09 December 2014 16:05 ) Read more...

Christmas charity takes centre stage this week

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Christmas season kicks into full swing this week with several big holiday concerts happening.Jolene Draper will be performing  with How Did I Get  Tinsel There for the CKXU Holiday Extravaganza. photo by Richard Amery
The annual Mayor’s Christmas Concert featuring the Gold and Silver Community bands will be playing all the Christmas classics you can handle at Southminster United Church, Dec. 13 as well as new works. They will also be featuring harpist Karin Barg. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Admission is $15 and they will be accepting donations for Lethbridge Food Banks.

 Also on Dec. 13, the students of Infunite Drama Academy and the Helen O’Grady Drama Academy will be showing off all they know at McKillop United Church. The concert is 6:30 -8 p.m. Admission is a minimum donation of one dollar. All of the proceeds will be split between the ALS Society of Alberta and Kids Cancer. People are also being asked to bring a non-perishable food item for the Lethbridge Food Banks.

While it isn’t Christmas themed, the University of Lethbridge presents the second annual  fundraiser of First Nations and  Metis Bursary concert to CASA, Dec. 12 featuring internationally renowned violist Rivka Golani, pianist Deanna Oye and percussionist Adam Mason.
 The concert will begin at 8 p.m. with Fritz Kreisler’s  “Midnight Bells,”  Michael Colgrass’ “Variations for Drums, a special presentation followed by Ernest Bloch’s “Suite for Viola and Piano and Brahms’  “ Hungarian Dances #1 and 3.”
Tickets are $40 regular, $20 for seniors, alumni and students with all of the proceeds going to the bursary fund.

 And you can’t have Christmas without renown Christmas themed ballet Nutcracker. Although the  Moscow Ballet brought the  Great Russian Nutcracker  Ballet to Lethbridge at the Enmax Centre, Nov. 21, this week the University of Lethbridge Ballet program brings their own production of the Nutcracker to  University Theatre, Dec. 12 and 13 under the direction of Miss Mary and Carol Godlonton. There are matinees at 2 p.m., Dec. 12 and 13 and the main production , Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $23.50

For a Christmas party guaranteed to get a little bit wilder, CKXU’s Holiday Extravaganza happens at the Slice, Dec.12 featuring local bands like Cosmic Charley and the Ruby Plumes, Edmonton experimental rock band Midnight Crisis and a couple bands formed just for the occasion of tearing apart Christmas favourites including How Did I Get Tinsel There featuring Jolene Draper and Steve Martin, St. Christmas Creep and Christ Cringle.
There is a $10 cover for the show.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 09 December 2014 14:05 ) Read more...
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