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New West trying new idea with online reading of Meg Braem’s “Flight Risk”

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As the arts community waits for things to get back to normal in the midst of Covid-19, New West Theatre is trying out a few more new ideas.
 So on Jan. 28, they are hosting a live online  play reading of Calgary based playwright/, former U of L professor Meg  Braem’s “Flight Risk.”

Erica Hunt performing with New West Theatre. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s an opportunity to engage our audience even though we can’t be on stage until summer when we can be outside again and it puts a spotlight on an Albertan playwright,” said New West Theatre artistic director  Kelly Reay, who will be directing this pilot project.

Local actors including New West Theatre veteran Erica Hunt plus Terry Gunvordahl and Alison Dereght will be reading “Flight Risk,” the story of 99-year-old Second World War veteran Hank Dunfield, who forms an unlikely bond with  22-year-old nursing student/ caregiver Sarah.

“Hank Dunfield is found wandering aimlessly through a field in the early hours of the morning, five kilometres away from his residence at Ponderosa Pine Lodge. Six weeks away from his 100th birthday, the lodge recruits Sarah, a nursing student, to help keep Hank safe, comfortable and in the building while they plan a grand centenarian celebration. There’s one problem…Hank doesn’t want to live that long,” according to New West Theatre.

“I want to emphasize it is not a romantic relationship,” Reay said.


Allan Roy Wilson tunes in to music community for new CD

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Allan Roy Wilson’s music has hit the right note with people all over the world, but he wasn’t going to take a rest during Covid last year. He just released his first full length, 10 song CD “ I Just Want You To Come Home” at the end of 2020.

Allan Roy Wilson has released his new CD I just want you To Come Home. photo by Richard Amery
“I started releasing the songs two and a half years ago between 2018 and 2019. I thought if I can write seven songs, then I can write three more,” said Wilson, noting all of the songs on the CD are the only ones he had for the project.
The well known member of the McKillop United Church band and local cover bands got inspired by the events of 2020 and Covid to write three new songs to complete the long awaited new CD.

 Three tracks, “You Should Not Walk Alone,” “Roadhouse” and “Love And Grace (Everywhere),” have already received crescendos of praise from fans all over the world on social media platforms.

He engaged an all star local orchestra to help fill out the sounds he created.
“I went into the studio with 99 per cent of the songs written. So I had a good idea of what I wanted the songs to sound like before I went into the studio,” he said.
“It’s like directing a film. I had the script written and gave everyone their parts,” he described, noting he had to work around his musical guests’ schedules as well as Covid protocols.

“When I decided not to put together a band for this project, it meant I could bring in who I needed. I would tell them what I wanted to hear and let them go with it,” Wilson explained, noting lead guitarist Steve Keenan added a hot solo for “Music Makes Me Fly.”

“It only took two takes. They were great. I asked him if he wanted to do another take and he said nope, we’ve got it,” Wilson said.
Moberly studio owner James Odenburg, who produced the Cd, also added lead guitar on most tracks and bass on “Music Makes Me Fly”and “You Should Not Walk Alone,” one of the earliest and most popular tracks. Wilson sings lead vocals and plays mandolin and rhythm guitar on his CD.

Oldenburg’s bandmate Paul Holden, who also plays with several local bands including Hippodrome, plays bass on most tracks. Hippodrome saxophonist Ryan Heseltine adds sax to a couple of tracks. Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra cellist Mark Rodgers and bassoonist Robert George play on several of the tracks.


Taylor Ackerman’s Global Acid Reset open 2021 with new single from upcoming EP

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There’s no moss on local musician Taylor Ackerman.

 He is first out of the gate to release new music in the new year as “ Stand Tall,” the first single from Taylor Ackerman’s Global Acid Reset’s upcoming new Ep “Encephalon,” will be released Jan. 8
 The rest of the five song EP will be released online on Feb. 5.

 Like last year’s CD, “Perfect Vision,” “Encephalon” will only be available online.

Thew five song EP includes three originals and covers of the Sadies’ “Talking Down” and Lee Hazelwood’s “Cold Hard Times.”
“‘Stand Tall’ is a song I wrote about 10 years ago and played with Toques and Beards, ” said Ackerman, who chipped away at the project in his downtown studio space throughout Covid last year and played live in between lockdowns.  It is about longstanding musical venue the Slice.

“This is a more rock and roll version. The original version was more of an acoustic singer / songwriter version because I was really into (Winnipeg musician) Scott Nolan, who is a really excellent storyteller,” Ackerman continued, adding he borrowed his talented friends when they were available to record on the new songs.

“I also changed the key because my voice is lower than it was then,” Ackerman added.

The new EP features Dustin Gegel playing drums on most tracks. Tyler Bird plays bass on most of the tracks including  “Stand Tall” on which he also plays drums.

 Don Cassell sings on “Stand Tall,”  sings harmonies on others and plays harp throughout the CD,  which reflects Ackerman’s long affinity with the blues.


Ryland Moranz explores vintage mediums for new single from new CD ‘XO, 1945’

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Ryland Moranz is exploring old school film making for the second single from his  second CD XO 1945. The entire CD has a vintage sound, featuring a lot of banjo and band mate Leeroy Stagger’s band bacRyland Moranz performing at South Country Fair in 2019. Photo by Richard Ameryking Moranz on 12 tracks reflecting on the past.
“ It features the Rebeltone band. It’s like a Leeroy Stagger album if Leeroy took a break,” Moranz said, noting it was one of the last CDs recorded in Stagger’s Rebeltone Studios, before he moved to Victoria. It features bassist Tyson Maiko, drummer Kyle Harmon keyboardist Michael Ayotte and Calgary fiddle player  Calvin Vollroth. George Fowler also adds some cello to the songs.
“ And Leeroy is singing back ground vocals in it,” Moranz said.

A lot of the  music was inspired by  discovering an old banjo from the 1890s  in the music store in  San Rafael , California, tuned to an unusual tuning.
“ It was in Open C, which was pretty common . So a lot of the songs are in open C, but there’s also songs with the band and songs on my own,” Moranz said, noting the new single “ Where Are My Blue Eyes,” is among the songs recorded in open C. That is the follow-up the the debut single “ If I Had Wings,” which was released in October.

 He tapped in the the many talents of  Evan Uschenko for the new video, which he shot on 16 mm film.
“He’s really talented and is interested in that style of film making like me,” Moranz said, noting Uschenko also filmed the video for the first single “ If I had Wings.” which features Moranz flying at the Lethbridge Airport.

“He filmed that too. I’ve had my pilot’s licence since I graduated from high school, so we rented a plane from the Lethbridge Airport. He was standing right next to the runway and I was afraid I’d hit him,” Moranz said.
The new video was a lot less dangerous, but a lot more time consuming as Moranz hand painted every frame.

“I’ve always been interested in old analog formats like film It’s very  much old school. There’s no digital enhancement,” he said.
There was no deliberate theme to the CD.

“But a friend pointed out that the songs all look at the past. So it turned out being a postcard to a time which I never experienced, but still affects everyone today. And it feels like you were there,” Moranz said.
 Some of the songs are three or four years old,  dating back to Moranz’s first solo album.


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