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Ken Hamm makes long awaited return to Lethbridge with hot fingerpicking and new music

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 Ken Hamm is so talented, he usually makes my want to burn my guitar, and his Lethbridge visits are rare, so I was glad to catch a second set from the Forget, Saskatchewan based blues and folk musician at the Lethbridge College Cave, winding down the Lethbridge Folk Club’s season, Saturday, April 27.
 I missed the Karen Romanchuk 3’s set and with the freak blizzard blowing in, I was sure no other show would be as good as this one was.Ken Hamm returned to Lethbridge, April 27. Photo by Richard Amery

 Hamm grinned as he sat perched on a bar stool, as he worked his way through a set of gorgeous fingerpicked blues, folk and instrumental music on a National Steel Guitar, a banjo and acoustic guitar. He played some Robert Johnson,  Pete Seeger and lots more, leaving the 80 some people  with their jaws on the floor. At least mine was.

 He played a lot from his latest CD “Mokomon.” His version of the instrumental “Anji” was beautiful as was his cover of J.S. Bach’s ”Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring,” which he played on banjo.  He had the audience singing along with Barbados musician Eric Minns’  “You Ain’t Hurryin Me.”

 I especially enjoyed the heartfelt version of “ Tell Old Bill,” which caused a few goosebumps after really listening to the lyrics.

 He always sings brilliant renditions of blues classics. He covered Robert Johnson’s “Walking Blues,” and a great version of “Rolling and Tumbling” and an exceptional version of Leadbelly’s “Relax your Mind.”
 Of course he was called back for an encore of a new instrumental featuring some hot finger picking. While I didn’t burn my guitar, after hearing that I too humbled to play for three days.

— by Richard Amery, L.A Beat Editor
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 08 May 2019 08:55 )

Rancho Deluxe expolores Southern Alberta people and places on new CD “Lucky Stars”

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Local musician George Arsene  has a lot of reasons to be excited about the process of releasing his first Cd, “Lucky Stars” from his country rock band Rancho Deluxe.
 Not only did he record it with renown Nanton based producer Steve Loree, but in the process of recording a cover of “ Come on Train,” by his musical idol Willie P Bennett, the long time mandolinist and vocalist for Fred Eaglesmith, who passed away in 2008, got to hang out with his sister Esther and hear stories about him.

George Arsene of Rancho Deluxe. Photo by Richard Amery
 But most importantly, he got to make music with friends, drummer Brad Brouwer, bassist Paul Holden, pedal steel guitarist Ryan “Skinny” Dyck and multi-instrumentalist Tyler Bird, who plays guitar, accordion, fiddle and adds background vocals to the CD.
“‘Lucky Stars’ was a great opportunity to make music with good friends,” said Arsene, who plays a lot solo as well as with Rancho Deluxe and is a frequent finalist in the South Country Fair Songwriting Competition.  Several of his South Country Fair songs are on the CD.

“I enter the competition every year, but never win,” he observed.
“We’re a hot country rock band and I just want people to hear the CD and then come out to a show and see that,” he said, noting there will be CD release parties, May 23 in Nanton at the Auditorium with  Lance Loree’s band the Pail Bunters, May 24 at the Slice and in Calgary, May 25 in the afternoon at the Ship and Anchor. They are also playing the Twin Butte General Store, June 8. And they have a good festival gig set at  South Country Fair, which is a fair dear to Arsene’s hear. They will be part of an excellent line up including Captain Tractor, Leeroy Stagger, Peter and the Wolves, Blue Moon Marquee, Curt Young, Tom Phillips, Tara Warburton, Petunia and the Vipers, Andrew Scott, Kris Demeanor and many more.

 Because of everyone’s busy schedules, he isn’t planning on doing a more extensive tour in support of  “Lucky Stars.”
Arsene enjoyed working with Steve Loree, a much in demand producer, though ran into some scheduling conflicts with band members, injuries and a few funding issues. He had to co-ordinated the busy schedules of Loree and his band mates.

“We were supposed to go up and record but Brad Brouwer got in a car accident.  Eventually Steve just brought all of his recording equipment here and set everything up and we recorded some bed tracks. I went up on my own to record some good vocals. But it was great to record it here in the garage where everything started,” said Arsene.
 Arsene’s garage is a popular hangout and home to many a late night jam session for local musicians and touring musicians alike when they play Lethbridge.
Arsene was especially excited to record “Come On Train.”

Last Updated ( Saturday, 11 May 2019 13:58 ) Read more...

Streets Alive Fundraisers among this week’s highlights

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There is a little something for everyone this week.

 Tonight country stars the Bellamy brothers, s who were all over the pop and country charts throughout the ’70s and ’80s with hits like “Let Your Love Flow,” Dancing Cowboys,” “Sugar Daddy,” “You Ain’t Just Whistlin’ Dixie,” “Lovers Live Longer,” “Do You Love As Good As You Look,” “Redneck Girl,” “For All The Wrong Reasons,” “I Love Her Mind,” “I Need More Of You,” “Old Hippie,” “Too Much Is Not Enough,” “Kids Of The Baby Boom,” and “Reggae Cowboy” and “Crazy From The Heart”, play The Yates Theatre. The show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $65.

First up, boogie woogie for Streets Alive at a special fundraising concert at Southminster United Church, Wednesday, May 8. Diane Lines celebrates swing, boogie woogie and jump blues in her show  “Jump”. It begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 with all proceeds going to support the Streets Alive mission.

Coda play The Piggy Stock fundraiser for Streets Alive this weekend. Photo by RiStock Fundraiser for Streets Alive this weekend. Photo by Richard Amery It is one of two fundraisers for Streets Alive, as local bands  local blues rock band CODA, classic rock band Good Time Charlie , Horizon and Continuum play the first annual Piggy Stock Roast Pig dinner and dance. The licensed and catered  event is at the Polish Canadian Club beginning at 5 p.m.. Tickets are $40 for adults, $15 for children under 15. They will be taking donations of food and clothing for Streets Alive.

Also on Wednesday, The May edition of the Windy City Opry features B.C. songwriter Dennis Bouwman, Calgary alt country musician Jess Knights and bluegrass/ country group the Local Group performing at the Slice at 8 p.m. sharp. As always, admission is $10.
Average Joes goes rap on Thursday, May 9 with  Odin and Evolution’s Firestarter tour featuring Alberta rappers Odin and Evolution with Craigles O’Grady, Crisko, Kropp Hopper and Chad L.A. McGhie. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $10.
 It is all about rock for the weekend. Biloxi Parish, plus Medicine Hat alternative rock band Old Youth and indie rock band the Northern Coast playing the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Friday, May 10.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 07 May 2019 08:40 ) Read more...

Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden opens for year with kites and sumo wrestling planned

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Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens opens for the season, Friday, May 3 with a lot of fun activities planned for the year including everything from Sumo Wrestling to kite flying and yoga.The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden has opened for the season. Photo by Richard Amery
“Because it’s a federal and municipal park, we can’t make any physical changes, but what we have done is increased our programming and creative, collaborative, cultural experiences,” summarized executive director Michelle Day.

 There are many regular events including  the Yoga experience, Yukata Shimatsu on weekends, reflexology, Nodate open tea services, a special board game night Go Fridays,where participants play the popular Japanese game Go, Okinawa Doughnuts, Sunset Sake and specialty tours.

The first big event is this weekend, May 4 and 5. “Let’s Go Fly A Kite,” coincides with the popular Japanese Children’s day holiday.
 Participants will learn how to build their own kites and fly them.

 Local taiko drummers will open the day at 1 p.m. while kite expert Dan Guick shows off his kite collection and gives a flying demonstration.
 Locally made Okinawa donuts will be available in the visitors centre. And  after getting your fill, build and fly your own kite beginning at 2 p.m.
Next weekend, the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden  features a a special Mother’s Day Tea, May 16.

Last Updated ( Friday, 03 May 2019 16:27 ) Read more...

Heron and Bort bring the heavy to a Wednesday night

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Things got loud at the Slice, Wednesday, April 24.

A decent Wednesday night crowd was on hand for The Rainbow Patrol and Vancouver bands Heron and Bort. local band Monolith wasn’t able to make it.
 Heron borrowed Bort’s drum kit and amp stack. Bort playing the Slice, April 24. Photo by Richard Amery

There was nary a bassist in sight as the two guitarists, including one of them playing a seven string,  layed down super heavy, gloomy, Black Sabbathy, sludgy, massively detuned depressing riffs that could only come out of a depressing, endless rainy winter of their Vancouver home.
 The vocalist howled and growled his death metal best punctuating  it with the occasional blood curdling shriek.

He thanked the audience of approximately  30  for “coming out on a Wednesday to hear bands you’ve never heard of before,” before the band crashed into a song abut “ the  vastness of the universe and meaninglessness of life.” In addition to punishing riffs, they enhanced their set with sound effects of car crashes and news clips.

I was there to see Bort,whose CD I’d been playing on my radio show.

Heron playing the Slice, April 24. Photo by Richard Amery They had a more accessible, ’70s style heavy rock sound along the lines of Grand Funk Railroad and Foghat, with more modern influences like Monster Truck and Truckfighter, whose shirt the lead singer was sporting.

 They were a little more upbeat than Heron and even had a couple tasteful guitar solos to go along with the big riffs.
As a bonus, they even turned Tears For Fears’ ’80s pop classic “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” into a sludgy stoner rock anthem.

 They played behind a double stack of 4x20 cabinets, which were probably unnecessary for a room the size of the Slice, but surprisingly reined in the volume a little bit through their solid  set.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 01 May 2019 12:36 )
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