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Fun in the sun with jazz and blues at Coulee Blues Festival

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There was a lot happening on Saturday, Aug. 28 including the Raymond Music Festival, but Arts in The Park’s co presentation of the Coulee  Blues Festival in Civic Park with The Geomatic Attic and the Lethbridge Jazz Society took priority.

Jack Semple's fast fingers at the Coulee Blues Festival, Aug. 28. Photo by Richard Amery


There was no way I was going to miss Saskatchewan bluesman Jack Semple, though I missed Paul Kype and Texas Flood’s opening set.

It’s been several years since I saw him playing Casino Lethbridge with a band backing him, so I was l really looking forward to this show.


I was in time to be properly humbled by Semple who “warmed up” with a sizzling, finger bleeding version of “Classical Gas” after playing  the bluesy “Hard Times.”


His set  was heavy on covers, interspersed with a few originals soaked in blazing , fiery fretwork and soulful vocals.


 He has released a couple new CDs  including a tribute To Gordon Lightfoot and played stripped down Lightfoot classics like “ If You Could Read My Mind, which highlighted his acoustic guitar.


 He was playing a solo show, but made his acoustic guitar sound like several.


 Even more impressive than his  guitar playing was his soulful tenor voice,  which was soaked in R and B influences.


 The set focussed heavily on covers including the Gordon Lightfoot songs and a particularly soulful version of “Under the Boardwalk and “Stand By Me” which  let Semple show off his falsetto.

 Bu his blazing fretboard work  throughout humbled all of the guitarists in the audience, sweltering in the sun or refreshing themselves in the beer garden.

 He ended on a gospel note  with “Lord Have Mercy.”


Calgary’s Rondell Roberts band provided the jazz portion of  the afternoon thanks to plenty of trumpet and saxophone, but with a few pop covers from the ’80s, a touch of reggae and  a lot of soulful vocals.


Their laid back groove, throbbing bass and understated guitar was perfect for a sunny Saturday afternoon.

The played quite a few originals, but also added  ’80s moments including covers of Terence Trent D’Arby’s “Wishing Well,” and Lionel Richie’s “ All Night Long.”

 They also added some  reggae covers, before making way for Satellite and the Harpoonist, Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer’s Shawn Hall’s new project.


Rondell Roberts at the Coulee Blues Festival, Aug. 28. Photo by Richard Amery

The trio including Shawn Hall on Harp, keyboards and vocals, percussionist Theo Vincent from the Boom Booms and Blue Man Group/ King Missile III veteran Bradford Reed on percussion and a home made instrument called a pencilina. Reed thumped out a bass line on his pencilina, which looked like a gutted steel guitar, and tapped out rhythm on a few other strings.


 They focussed on songs from their new EP as well as on jams on a few revamped Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer songs.

This was all about the rhythm and strange, alien sounds Hall squeezed out of his harp with the help of a few guitar effects units and  synthesizers.


 They had a long jam on the Harpoonist and the axe Murderer’s “Mama In the Backseat.”


 The trio played a hypnotic hour set  powered by percussion , relentless rhythm and strange sounds.

 Unfortunately I missed Kat Danser’s closing set due to other commitments.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Bradford Reed playing with Satellite and the Harpoonist at the Coulee Blues Festival, Aug. 28. Photo by Richard Amery
Last Updated ( Thursday, 02 September 2021 14:18 )

Breanne Urban brings new band Detour to her 23d Taber Cornfest

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 I haven’t been to Taber Cornfest in several years as there’s usually numerous events in Lethbridge that take priority.

 But I haven’t seen Breanne Urban’s new band, so made the trek. Breanne Urban and Detour were part of a Lethbridge heavy line up performing the three day annual festival, Aug. 27 and 28.


Breanne Urban and Detour playing Taber Cornfest, Aug. 27. Photo by Richard Amery

 It’s nice to see town fairs back in force.


 A good sized crowd partied like they’d never heard of Covid. There booths were bustling, motorcyclists performed aerial stunts and the music blasted off the stage.

 Breanne Urban and Detour, as expected played a set heavy on ’90s country, where she is most in her element.


 She’s been a mainstay of the festival for 23 years.

 This was the first gig for the new band including Urban on vocals and percussion, bassist/vocalist Duane Kiever, keyboardist/singer Gary Drayton, lead guitarist Jack Steven and drummer Bob Gammon.


 They opened with Carlene Carter’s “Every Little Thing,” with Urban belting out the lyrics while Drayton danced behind his keyboards.

Children danced and bubbles filled the air as they played a song about Mississippi  that I didn’t recognize. I enjoyed their version of Shania Twain’s “Still the One.” and “Poor Me.”


 Drayton belted out Sawyer Brown’s “ Some Girls Do.”

 They stepped away form ’90s country for a bit with a laid back  jazz tinged version of Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee.” Urban belted out a couple of common cover band standards with “Don’t Stop Believing ” and “Summer of ’69.


 Urban dedicated Elle King’s  “Exes and O’s to Bev.

Then they were back to ’”90s country with “Heads Carolina, Tails California.”


 They dabbled  a little more in classic rock as  Kiever sang Harlequin’s “Did It For Love.”

 And Urban took centre stage for more classic country on Gretchen Wilson’s “All Jacked Up.”


 She then belted out Pat Benetar’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” and slowed things down with some Reba McEntire and Heart’s’80s  power ballad “All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You.”


 They wound their set down with some upbeat pop including Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance With Me” and  “Let it Rain,” which thankfully it didn’t.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Thursday, 02 September 2021 13:53 )

Exhibition Park ready to Whoop it up this week

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It’s been a long time since we’ve whooped it up.

Organizers are excited see an abbreviated Whoop Up Days come together at Exhibition Park beginning tomorrow, Sept. 2 and going until Sept. 4, as Covid cancelled last year’s Whoop up Days.


Mike Warkentin is excited about this year’s Whoop Up Days, Sept. 2-4. Photo by Richard Amery

“So far so good,” said Exhibition Park Chief operating officer Mike Warkentin, watching a slightly smaller Midway come together.


“The purpose of Whoop Up Days is to bring the community together, but the priority is to do it in a safe and responsible manner, he continued.


 Due to Covid, the Midway is 20 per cent smaller, but there is more space in between attractions.


“ It’s 20 per cent smaller, but it occupies the same amount of space,” he said.


 Organizers have had to overcome the challenges of construction occupying most of Exhibition Park as well as Covid.


“We’re strongly urging you wear masks and to sanitize your hands. Our staff will be masked and be given Covid rapid tests before their shifts,” he said adding the Midway operators were given the opportunity to opt in as well.

All patrons will be given a temperature check as they go through security.


“ But if you aren’t feeling well, please stay home. There will be a Whoop Up Days next year and we’ll be happy to see you when you’re feeling better,” he said.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 01 September 2021 14:37 ) Read more...

Whoop Up Days and a whole lot of live music and laughter for long weekend

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Whoop Up Days dominates a long weekend chock full of live entertainment.

 But several major summer festivals also continue this week.

 But first, Good Times restarts their regular Tuesday night comedy open mic tonight, Aug. 31. Everyone is welcome to come down and lay down their laughs, ha has and yuk yuks. Doors open at 7:30 with performances beginning at 8 p.m.


Bailey Kate is performing at this week’s Upside Downtown at Casa on Thursday. Photo By Richard Amery

 The Owl Acoustic Lounge’s regular Tuesday open mic is also tonight, Aug. 31.


 Things start to take off on Thursday, Sept. 2. Upside Downtown continues at Casa with Bailey Kate performing from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday..


The Slice’s open mic starts around 8:30 -9 p.m.


A stripped down, free Whoop Up Days opens at Exhibition Park on Sept. 2 with local acoustic favourites Uncovered playing everything from ’90s favourites, ’80s metal like Def Leppard and modern pop like Katy Parry, the Weeknd and Lady Gaga on the Gas King Stage in Heritage Hall beginning at 6 p.m.


Whoop up Days continues with country musician Ryan Lindsay playing the Gas King Stage on Friday, Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. He has won Country Music Alberta awards  for Album of the Year and  Horizon Male Artist of the year.

Honker’s pub has their usual Friday night open mic at 8 p.m.


 Casino Lethbridge features country band Driven Friday and Saturday beginning at 8 p.m.


 The Owl Acoustic Lounge features Danica Sommer, Spencer Jo, Ol’ ben and Bob Scallywag for a  night of high powered folk music on Saturday beginning at 9 p.m.

 On Friday, Sept. 3,  The Owl has a  aloud show planned with Calgary based Fem positive alternative  rock band Slut Prophet, local lo fi rock band Body Lens and  Rhinestone NDN  who is  Dri Hiev]s Dan Auger's new electronic project beginning at 9 p.m. 


Owl co-owner Steven Foord will be roasted at Good Times , at 8 p.m. by local comedians Cole Howg, Connor Christmas, Dwayne Smith, Mark Andrew, Johnny Pogo and host Faris Hytiaa. Tickets are $20.

 And the Owl aocustic Lounge welcomes back Hamiton funnyman B.A. Johnston with Open Channels on Tuesday, Sept. 7. 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 01 September 2021 08:52 ) Read more...

Steve Keenan Band help Spectrum Ale Works celebrate second anniversary

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 Local microbrewery Spectrum Ale Works celebrated their second  birthday with three days of live music.


 While I missed sold out performances of Duelling pianos on Friday and a sold out  night with Adequate on Saturday.


The Steve Keenan Band playing Spectrum Ale Works, Aug. 22. Photo by Richard Amery

 But I made a point of being there to see the Steve Keenan Band playing to a good sized afternoon crowd on Sunday, Aug. 22.


 Steve Keenan used to play rhythm guitar with Paul Kype and Texas Flood so the show was a reunion of sorts as it featured Paul Kype on guitar on vocals, taking over from keyboardist TJ Waltho who had another commitment.


Bassist David Popovich and drummer Darwin Romanchuk provided a rock solid rhythm section for Kype and Keenan to play over.


 The duo had a double Strat attack, trading solos and  harmonizing with each another throughout.


 They started their second set with an amped up jam on “Crossroads” on which they traded solos.


The set was a pretty much equal mix of familiar blues standards and originals, many from his most recent CD “In My Hands” including “ Dream Train” and “ Doin’ Fine.” and delved into his back catalogue for “Linda Lou.”


They tried their hands at ’70s Eric Clapton with “Lay Down Sally.”

 Of course, with the Texas Flood background, they had to pull out some Stevie Ray Vaughan, so they played “ Pride and Joy.”

 They wound down the afternoon with  “Can”t you See and  blues classic “ Got My Mojo Working.”

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 25 August 2021 14:24 )
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