Good times and pleasant memories in 2019


 The thing about a year, is you never know where you will end up by the end of it. No matter how carefully you plan your life, life itself has its own plans. There is always something, be it family issues, changes in employment status and financial status, or just discovering a new inspiration that clears a new path. But it is always up to you whether to take the new path or stay on the same road.
2019 has been really busy and fulfilling year fraught with freak snowstorms and rain.

Most of my life over the past 10 years has been intertwined with L.A. Beat — that and helping my dad in the city.

 I started L.A. BeThe Arkells were a highlight of whoop Up Days in 2019. Photo by Rchard Ameryat with a lot of help from my webmaster cousin Rod, two days after the Lethbridge Herald laid me off right before Easter in April 2009. Ten years operating your own business is a monumental  and exhausting achievement, and an almost thankless task  financially, but fulfilling in all other ways.

 I didn’t think Lethbridge’s arts community was getting the recognition it deserves and still don’t. I’ve done my best to fill that niche. In  the midst, of everything, the Allied Arts Council gave me the Mayor‘s award for individual excellence at the Mayor’s Luncheon in September. Thank you to everybody for reading my ramblings and , more importantly, supporting the arts in Lethbridge, because I can’t do what I do without you doing what you do.

 So I wanted to mark 10 years of covering arts in Lethbridge on  L.A. Beat by becoming a bigger part of the arts community.
I got to act with three of the major community theatre troupes in Lethbridge, beginning with breaking in the newly renovated Sterndale Bennett Theatre. I played a bit part in Playgoers of Lethbridge’s production of Where’s Oscar in February. Right after that, I played the therapist Ernie in Hatrix Theatre’s production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors,” at another new venue, the McNally School.
 And hot on the heels of that joined the Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society’s production of Macbeth, which was a blast, though plagued by inclement weather.
 I even got up on stage to sing and perform a couple of times. I always enjoy being part of The Lethbridge Girls Rock Camp Band Swap fundraiser so took the stage at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, June 8, joining Mandy Fox and Amberlea Parker aka two thirds of Mombod and Chris Hibbard on vocals. I got to play bass, guitar and cigar box guitar for that show.
I wanted to show off some of my favourite photos  from the past 10 years of L.A. Beat.
 Darcy Logan let me have an exhibition of some of my 3- D photos at Casa in May, which was very cool. I had a lot of fun splashing paint on some of my favourite photos and turning them 3-D by pasting cardboard behind parts of them.
 And because I spend a lot of time at the Slice listening to music, Slice owner Derek Hoyle let me put up a couple dozen of my favourite shots at the Slice over the past 10 years.
 On top of everything else, I went back to school in September for a second degree in masochism … er management and new media.
 The New Media 1000 class installed a show at the Dr. Penny Foster Building in November, so I put up another pic, which I didn’t get printed in time for the Slice show at the Dr. Penny Foster Building instead.

 I started off the year by starting singing lessons with my wonderfully talented and supportive friend, inspiration and muse Andi Roberts. A single mom teaching singing full time while going back to school, she inspired me to tackle university as a mature student.
 Going back to school was a path I hadn’t really considered seriously. I already booked this January’s vacation, not thinking it might conflict with classes in the Spring. But freelance income dried up to pretty much nothing, about the same time I decided to apply to the U of L.
 But I did it, and pulled some decent marks considering I’m trying to run a business at the same time and help my dad every week in Calgary.
 Along the way, I acted in three plays, had three art shows and saw a lot of great bands.

As always, I was impressed with young new bands like Biloxi Parish, The Cayley, Fawns, Dead Army, The Decadent Phase and numerous other which seemed to form every month. A new ’50s pop band called Frankie and The Bridge Mix were a highlight.

I got to see some of my favourite bands play Lethbridge usually at the Slice like the Wild!, D.O.A. the Dayglo Abortions, Peter and the Wolves, Tin and the Toad and discovered lots of new touring folk and roots acts like Richard Inman and Ellen Froese. Winnipeg country musician Sean Burns became a familiar face in Lethbridge playing all over the city pretty much every other month.

 D.O.A. headlined the most eclectic bill of the year for a packed Slice, May 21. I missed local folk/ country musician Tyson Ray Borsboom. Everyone was there for Indie-pop singer Mike Edel and most had trickled away by the time Vancouver hardcore legends D.O.A. took the stage. They were still done by midnight though.Jolene Draper stands on Steve Martin’s bass. Photo by Richard Amery

 Five Alarm Funk made a long awaited return to the Slice, June 25.
 Eve Hell and the Razors also made a long awaited return to play more rockabilly.

 B.A. Johnson brought the funny for a couple of packed shows at the Owl Acoustic Lounge. The Owl was pretty much consistently packed for most of their shows. The return of folk trio Fates were one of my favourites. Jody Peck and Sarah Burton finally returned to the Owl Acoustic Lounge to play a great show for a handful of people, which was a shame.

 Due to family issues, I missed a final show from Hollerado and a few concerts I really wanted to see at the Geomatic Attic like Del Barber. I did catch one of my favourite touring road shows — Barney Bentall’s Grand Cariboo Express featuring Bentall, Leeroy Stagger, Matt Masters, Dustin Bentall, RIdley Bent and a lot more. Jimmy Rankin played two sold out shows at the Geomatic Attic
 The Folk Club found a new leader in Tom Moffat, so I caught a few outstanding shows there from folks like Tri-Continental, Old Man Luedecke. Earlier in the year, Ken Hamm return to blow some people away with fretboard wizardry, April 27.

 Shaela Miller’s Windy City Opry celebrated three years at the Slice with great acts like Zachary Lucky and Peter and the Wolves.
Mike Spencer’s Wide Skies Music Festival also turned three this summer.  He brought in some exceptional talent including Danny Michel, Harry Manx and Steve Marriner and Cousin Harley, who were outstanding as usual.
The Owl featured a variety of different music from folk and country like  to alternative rock and punk like Vancouver’s the Jins and a great stoner rock show featuring Chron Goblin and Black Mastiff.

Blues made a bit of a comeback with local acts like Papa King, Paul Kype and Steve Keenan playing a lot throughout the year. Colorado bluesman Johnny O played here twice and Keith Woodrow began a regular monthly blues jam at the Slice. Edmonton based harpmeister Harpdog Brown played another excellent blues show at the Slice, Feb. 26.

The Slice featured several indie-pop acts inPeter and the Wolves played several excellent shows in Lethbridge this year. Photo by Richard Amerycluding Royal Oak and Chersea.
 There were also several good Celtic rock shows including a new Calgary band Syryn and Mustakettu, who played the Slice, Aug. 24. There was also more traditional Celtic music  from the Irish Descendants and the Derina Harvey band who played within weeks of each other.
 There was also a fair number of metal shows, most of which I never made it to.
 Whoop Up Days had a modern flavour this year with outstanding shows including Corb Lund, Walk Off The Earth plus the Arkells and Dear Rouge. One of my new favourite‘s the Dirty Nil, opened that show.
I had to balance those shows with my annual Mulegrimmage. So this year I did a quick road trip all the way down to Billings without a working radio, to go see my favourite band Govt. Mule.

Average Joes brought in mid level pop acts like Tyler Shaw and country from Gord Bamford and George Canyon and up and coming country pop star Jojo Mason. They had a great rock show from the Trews, Feb. 5.

South Country Fair was a rainy affair this year. But there were a lot of highlights, though I only caught Friday night and Saturday. One highlight was Jack Garton and Demon Squadron, who returned to the Owl Acoustic Lounge after the Fair and played an exceptional show. Bad Buddy, an Edmonton psychedelic garage rock band featuring Alex Vissia were a South Country Fair highlight who returned to the Owl Acoustic lounge in December to play another excellent show.

 Peter and the wolves were another South Country Fair highlight who played Lethbridge  several times in different incarnations.

I didn’t catch a lot of the big Enmax Centre shows, but couldn’t resist a high octane Judas Priest show, June 10.

 So after all that, what’s next? I don’t know. Who knows where this year will lead me. Family will definitely be a big part of 2020. I anticipate acting a little. Harpdog Brown returned to Lethbridge in March. Photo by Richard Amery

You will likely see me at a lot of live shows this year. I probably won’t have any art shows this year. School is sure to be part of the new year as my second semester begins on Jan. 6. But I might even transfer to the College in September. Maybe I’ll just buy a Harley and ride off into the sunset. The future is unwritten. Texan songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard has some words to live by in his song Mother Blues — “ The days I keep my gratitudes higher than my expectations, I have really good days.”
 May the best thing that happened to you in 2019 be the worst thing that happens in 2020. Be excellent to each other.

 — By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor