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Lots of memories in 2015

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It has been another amazing year in Lethbridge with good news, bad news and a plethora of very cool shows, and 2016 is  already looking pretty amazing. We’ll look ahead next week, but now things have slowed down for a week or so on the entertainment front, now is a good a time as any to look back.Murray nelson passed away this year. Photo by Richard Amery

Lethbridge said goodbye to Murray Nelson, who passed away from cancer this year. Nelson was one of the scene’s more prominent performers on stage performing solo and with a variety of bands as well as busking on the streets all over Lethbridge. He was also a talented videographer and a respected music teacher who taught many prominent Lethbridge musicians. He had also been a prominent performer at fundraisers for other musicians. His memory will live on in the students he taught and the souls he touched on stage or just chatting at various local watering holes.

On another sad note, in the new year, the Lethbridge Folk Club will be looking for a new location for their open mics on the second and fourth Fridays of the month as MJS Cycle is apparently closing by the end of the year. It doubled as the location for open stages and smaller Lethbridge Folk Club shows.
On a somewhat lighter, but still unpleasant note, Lethbridge got a black eye, so to speak, and made international news in April after shock rocker Marilyn Manson was punched at Denny’s on Mayor Magrath after his April 4 show at the Enmax.

That’s the bad news, but there has also been a lot of good news in 2015.
Lethbridge hosted a pretty big event in the arts — The Lt. Governor’s Awards and SOAR Emerging Artists Festival in June, which not only showcased some of Alberta‘s most talented artists, but also featured the ever growing pool of talent Lethbridge has to offer.
It has been a great year for Victoria born, Lethbridge based songwriter Leeroy Stagger, who released a great new CD “Dream it All Away” and capped off a successful year supporting it by winning the Peak Performance Competition in November.

Stagger’s new CD was one of several excellent Cds released this year by southern Alberta talent including John Wort Hannam, Karen Romanchuk, Cosmic Charley, the Supervoid, Accalia and Papa King Cole and Zojo Black to name just a few off the top of my head.

 Another highlight this year was the formation of Attainable Records who are starting to do shows spanning a variety of genres. ThSNFU’s Chi Pig playing inferno in July. Photo by Richard Ameryey had a weekend of showcases featuring a variety of Lethbridge, southern Alberta and Calgary talent in November.
Casino Lethbridge has expanded their musical horizons a little this year form the usual crop of classic rock and cover bands to also include comedy, mentalism and Calgary rockabilly band the Hi Strung Downers.

Lethbridge’s punk scene really took off this year, mostly thanks to promoter Alex Currie. Currie and company put on a day long punk and metal show, The Burning Bridges Festival, July 25 at the Moose Hall, another good venue for punk.

 The  Burning Bridges Festival featured a lot of the Calgary Beer Core scene including Citizen Rage,  the Motherfuckers, Kroovy Rookers, Press Gang plus a couple of highlights from Edmonton including Grizzly Train and Rebuild/Repair.


Street Machine Weekend to dominate downtown

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Over the past 37 years, The Street Machine Weekend , July 10-12, has slowly evolved into a Lethbridge institution for car buffs, aficionados and gear-heads of all types. PJ Nadeau is looking forward to the Street Machine weekend. Photo by Richard Amery

Lethbridge gets influx of between 15-20,000 people from all over Canada and the United States for the event which brings in millions of dollars to the city every year.
“It’s a great to see people having a good time doing something they love,” said new Street Wheelers Club president PJ Nadeau.
“People spend countless time and money on their cars so this is where they get to show off all of their hard work,” he continued.

“And it’s a great place to meet old friends,” he continued.
Street Machines takes over the downtown core and Exhibition Park, July 10-13 beginning with Cruise Control, Friday night , July 10 at 8 p.m., during which 832 cars will be cruising around the city core on 3rd Ave. South and Mayor Magrath Drive, 7-10 p.m.

“There’s something for everybody — people who like muscle cars, Mustangs, Japanese cars, Volkswagens…,” said new Street Wheelers’  president PJ Nadeau.
“We hand select the cars so there is something for everybody— Corvettes, muscle cars, European cars, Japanese cars. They have to be show ready,” he said, adding the entries must have something unique about them.
“Unfortunately we have to turn a lot of people away and it fills up in an hour,” continued Nadeau.
“Watching the Cruise is an amazing experience, but it doesn’t even compare to the feeling of actually being part of it,” he said.
There is a $10 entry fee to enter. They only have room for 832 cars in the cruise.


Great combination of big acts and valiant newcomers in 2014

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There were a lot of highlights happening this year from big names you young and hungry up and comers and a couple really exceptional music festivals.
Old punks had favourites D.O.A and The Real McKenzies on March 14 who are always great to see. I wanted to hear the  Boids opening for them, but had to choose between them and criminally under-appreciated gypsy folk  group Blackberry Wood, who I always like to see.The Wet Secrets were one of the highlights this year. Photo by Richard Amery

 And while I don’t usually travel to see shows as it means I miss everything in Lethbridge, I made a point of hitting Sidelines in Coaldale, April 19 to hear hockey punks the Hanson Brothers who played a lot of hockey themed hits and even premiered their own beer. As an aside, The Hanson Brothers’  Tom Holliston later returned to Lethbridge on his own to share his quirky folkie side at the Owl Acoustic Lounge , Aug. 28.

  I  also checked out several all ages punk shows at the Moose Hall this year and was  blown away by the raw power, energy and yes, even musicality of some great Albertan punk bands. I was commuting to and from South Country Fair this summer. I had to this time as my long time camera died after six years and I had to get a new one,  but it meant  I caught an amazing show at the Moose Hall from Edmonton bands MSA and Abuse of Substance.

 MSA were off the hook. They stripped down to their shorts and even brought out an didgeridoo for an brilliant punk cover of Midnight Oil’s “Beds Are Burning.” Fellow Edmontonians Abuse of Substance came back a couple of times this year.

 The Moose featured some excellent punk shows including a couple from The Rebel Spell and some great new discoveries for me including Copsickle and Knuckledown.

Lethbridge’s resident street punks the Scallywags were involved with most of these shows  as were another new discovery, the Mangy Mutts, the only acoustic/ country act to play a lot of these.
 The Mangy Mutts were a highlight of one of several excellent festivals happening this year as they opened up the Slice stage during the day long Electric Eye music festival on May 10, which featured garage rock, electronica, punk, country and hip hop at five different venues.

 This  also featured another great new discovery — The Outlaws of Ravenhurst— a medieval, classic metal metal trio who dressed up as knights  for their set.
 They returned for another great day long music festival — the fifth annual CKXU Love and Records in Galt Gardens, Sept. 13 as well as at several venues
 They were among many highlights of the day and even  got the University of Lethbridge Mediaeval club to duel during their afternoon set at Galt Gardens.

 Yet another great new new discovery returned to Lethbridge for Love and Records — Edmonton’s Wet Secrets, a side project of headliner Shout Out Out Out Out.
 The West Secrets (who later won the PEAK  Project competition for Alberta) stole the show, sporting vintage band uniforms band playing upbeat pop music with a horn section, bass and  keyboards. They played earlier in the year at the Slice with another favourite — the Gay ’90s who played Lethbridge several times this year.

 While Love and Records had after-parties at several different venues, I only made it to the one at Plum featuring Edmonton’s Marshall Lawrence and Paul Kype and Texas Flood, mainly because I organized it.
 I thought it was amazing.
 Blues rocker Marshall Lawrence  never gets the turnout he deserves in Lethbridge, though he had a full house rocking until midnight, when everybody mostly cleared out to either go home or to go to the metal after-party at the Slice.
 Blues music itself never seems to get the turnout it deserves in Lethbridge, though we had some excellent local blues shows including excellent shows from Paul Kype and Texas Flood and a couple different versions of Papa King and his band.


What do you do with those old doo dads? E-cycle them with the Lethbridge Community Network

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Technology changes in what seems like seconds. So, after you’ve stocked up on new gadgets over Christmas and Boxing Day, what do you do with the old gadgets?Allan Schneider suggested people  wanting to donate old technology  to the 2015 E-Cycle drive either drop it off in bins across the city or just call the Lethbridge Community Network  (403-317-7799). Photo by Richard Amery
“You can either take it to the dump or leave it in your basement,” said Lethbridge Community Network e-cycle co-ordinator Allan Schneider, who provided a third option —  recycle and refurbish them for people who need them by donating them to the annual Lethbridge Community Network Annual E-cycle Drive, Jan. 10-17.

“We did this last Easter and the e-cycle drive raised 25,000 pounds of old technology,”  Schneider said, surrounded by a stack of everything from old monitors, laptops and a bucket of old hard drives.

They don’t offer data removal services like wiping the old hard drives, so he encouraged people to remove them on their own. If they don’t know how, he will remove the drives and destroy them.
“I’ll put a nail through each one of them when I have time,” he said.

 There are fewer locations for the bins this year, but bigger bins which will be emptied regularly. A Calgary company,  Global Electric Electonic Processing (GEEP) pays them a few cents per pound, which resulted in approximately $2,900 coming in for the Lethbridge Community Network.

 Bins will be located at Peavy Mart (33 Southgate Blvd. South), Save on Foods West ( 401 Highlands Blvd. West) , Save on Foods north (1112 2nd Ave North), Sobeys Uplands (327 Bluefox Blvd. North), the Lethbridge Public Library downtown and Crossings Public Library on the west side. They can also be dropped off at their office upstairs in the same building as the Round Street Cafe ( #200 427 5th street south)
“ There are fewer locations and more bins this year,” he observed adding he had to empty many of the bins on his own last year.
“ We need volunteers because those bins fill up fast,” he said.

 The technology, which can range from rotary phones to televisions and a lot of computers, monitors, cameras, DVD and Blueray players, scanners, printers and cell phones will either be refurbished and sold to people who need them at a reasonable price. He said computers are upgraded to Windows 7 before being sold to other not for profit organizations and individuals who can’t afford new technology.
“We don’t have the funds to give away the computers” he said, noting more obsolete items are sold to GEEP which will dismantle, recycle or refurbish the parts of each of them.
“It all gets used. Every single part,” he said.


Some of the best and worst of 2014

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It seems to happen a lot— Lethbridge loses prominent members of the music community.Chainsaw Charlie lights his cowbell. Photo by Richard Amery
 This year the community had to say good-by to resident Irish roots musician  Frank Dooley. I didn’t know him well, but had the pleasure of  drinking a beer or two with him. He could usually be found playing Irish music  on St Patrick’s Day as well as with roots bands like the Skilletlikkers. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it to his wake at the Slice on Nov. 9 due to family business in Calgary.

We also lost First Nations flautist Two Spirit Sage, who had being keeping a low profile, due to moving away. But he could always be found sharing peace, love and traditional stories at open mic, particularly at Lethbridge Folk Club events.
 Both will be missed.

As always there was a lot of local music this year. I’m not going to try to choose the best, because that would be impossible.
 But two excellent local roots and country acts, Treeline and Shaela Miller joined forces for many shows and an excellent CD “ Curtains” which combined the vocals of Danny Dyck and Shaela Miller.

  A variety of local musicians released new music this year including Lethbridge rockers Billie Vegas and the Dirti Speshuls,  bluesmen Paul Kype and Texas Flood and somewhat related, Greg Gomola’s new project  Zojo Black. And those are only the ones I can remember off hand.

We had a lot of memorable touring acts, proving once again if anyone tells you there is nothing to do in Lethbridge, they are  either lying or not paying attention.

 I got to see one of my new favourite rock bands three times this year. Toronto based ’70s influenced supergroup Public Animal, including the unique sounds of Ian Blurton and keyboardist Caitlin Dacey were not only an early highlight of the year at one of many poorly attended, not to mention easily one of the loudest shows this year (which is saying something) at the Slice on Jan. 2 but were also a must see at Sled Island in Calgary as well.

 It is a challenge getting to multiple shows in the same night. I usually try to time it so I catch another show during set breaks. But it still requires tough choices.
 I had to make a lot of tough choices this year, one of them being June 23 with Public Animal at Bo Diddley’s while  Five Alarm Funk were playing a packed and sweltering Slice. I caught the essence of them both though Public Animal was sadly under-attended.

The Geomatic Attic outdid themselves with big shows this year, so much so that they had to move to bigger venues. I was lucky enough to catch most of them.
They brought legendary Mexican rockers Los Lobos to the Yates Theatre, Jan. 23 with special guest Leeroy Stagger and his band who had a great year of their own including opening for Steve Earle in Chicago. Los Lobos played all of their hits and set down a wicked groove for the whole night.

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