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L.A. Beat


The L.A. Beat

More great music and new discoveries on Outlaw Country Cruise 7

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It’s hard to believe it’s been a month since I was on board the Norwegian Pearl for floating music festival, Outlaw Country Cruise 7. My brain is still reeling and my ears are still ringing from another fantastic Outlaw Country Cruise, which left from Miami, Feb. 21,  went to Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas, the island of Cozumel outside of Cancun, Mexico and back to Miami, Feb. 27. Lately takes a lot longer to recover from the best vacation ever, not to mention writing about it. Yet they already put out a call to register  for OCC8 without announcing the line up a day after I got home on March 1. I signed up anyway even though it’s a year away as it’s always a good bet they will have a killer line up, which ended up being Blackberry Smoke, Dash Rip Rock and  drivin n Cryin  and Ray Wylie Hubbard, to name just a few to start. But that’s not until next year.

Bill Kirchen and Sarah Borges on Outlaw Country Cruise 7. Photo by Richard Amery


The Outlaw Country Cruise is always a good time as I always discover my new favourite bands on the boat. I come back drained and alternately inspired depending on the day. This time my new favourites were easily a couple Texas bands The Vandoliers and Mike And the Moonpies.

 The Waco Brothers have been my new favourite since Outlaw Cruise 5, so I knew they were going to be great on this boat, especially with a new album out. There was a whole lot of Jon Langford, one of the frontmen of the Waco Brothers, who was also playing with the Mekons and  Jon Langford and Skull Orchard.


The other band I was looking forward to was the Old ’97s who  are celebrating  30 years together as a band. 

 Beaming frontman Rhett Miller was a blast. I caught all three Old ’97s and one guitar pull with Miller, but missed his solo show.

 They are full of energy and played three very different sets.

“Jesus Love You,” was a highlight of their pool deck show. And “Turn Off Your TV” was an apt highlight of at least one of them.


 I also caught all three Vandoliers sets.

 Their set in the atrium was a the best, with all six of them crammed onto the tiny stage. They sounded like Elliott Brood but louder and with a trumpet and keyboards and a bare chested fiddle player channeling the spirit of Charlie Daniels.

Most of them were shirtless by the end of their furious and hot set. They bill themselves as your favourite punk band’s favourite country band,” and not without reason.

 They were off the hook. They’re in the news now for protesting Tennessee’s draconian new anti- drag law by performing in dresses and auctioning those dresses off  for Tennessee LBGTQ organizations.


 Atrium shows were the best and most intimate, they felt more like a bar setting where most of the performers are more used to playing.


The Vandoliers on Outlaw Country Cruise 7. Photo by Richard Amery

 The Waco Brothers’ best and most dangerous set was also on the atrium stage. They all sported their trademark Waco Brothers ’ sailor hats. Tiny fiddle player Jean Cook was ducking to save her life or to at least to avoid a concussion from bouncing bassist Alan Doughty who was leaping and kicking in his corner, while playing some of the fastest, most melodic bass lines I’ve ever heard while putting on a show.


 I only saw Cook only get knocked down once, but he helped her up immediately.


 The Supersuckers are always a highlight of the boat. This time, bassist Eddie Spaghetti was everywhere doing triple duty as Supersuckers frontman as well as playing bass for Supersuckers guitarist Metal Marty’s band and playing bass again with punk rock trucking collective the Franklin County Trucking Company, who were another new  favourite.

The only musician to play more shows was probably Bill Kirchen was everywhere, playing with pretty much everybody. I only caught one of his own shows, but luckily caught his set ending jam on “ Hot Rod Lincoln,” which  ends with a medley of riffs from a cornucopia of hits ranging from country to punk rock.

 Everyone loves Bill Kirchen, who  was part of  Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen in the early ’70s. I heard he even went crowd surfing during Sara Borges’ set.

The Waco Brothers on Outlaw Country Cruise 7. Photo by Richard Amery


 Outlaw Country Cruisers are a tight knit  group of music lovers who are like a family away from the family but from all over the U.S, Canada and even a few overseas cruisers including music lovers and musicians alike hanging out blissfully on a boat.

 Bill Kirchen looked a little shocked after receiving a round of applause while getting on an elevator en route to one of his many appearances. The crowd parted for him on another elevator as he rushed from one gig downstairs to pool deck guest spot with Sarah Borges, who is always a cruise favourite.

Her fans set up a Facebook campaign to get her on the boat a few years ago, so she responded by writing a song with Bottle Rockets bassist Keith Voegele called “Got me on the Boat” which is on her most recent album. Borges and her partner Kurt Voegele were everywhere too.


 He even got to take centre stage on a late night cruise ending all-star jam of hits hosted by Warner Hodges band to belt out a version of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender.”

 I always come home with a lot of great memories and new musical discoveries. I forgot my good camera, so didn’t take as many pictures of things as trying to get a decent shot from a cell phone camera was more trouble than it’s worth so it was really weird to not be officially covering the shows.


 With six days of non-stop music, there is always something happening and a lot of highlights so it is essential to pace oneself to catch a little bit of everything without burning out. It’s a lesson I should learn some time, but the first night was front loaded with great shows and pretty much everybody I wanted to see.


 I made sure to board the boat early for a great collaboration between Joe King Carrasco and Texas Tornado Augie Meyers, who played a wild  boarding show on the pool deck. The two of them were  a couple of the many musicians who were special guests on a lot of other musicians’ shows, which is one of the best things abut the boat.


The Mavericks are always a good times so I caught their cast off show, but cut it short because Kathleen Edwards, one of the main reasons I signed up for this cruise  was playing her first show in the main theatre, The Stardust  at the same time and  didn’t want to miss her. Her set and stories brought me to  tears a couple of times. Her set was pretty similar throughout. She opened appropriately with “Just another Song the Radio Won’t Play,” played a lot of her new album, and couple  old favourites including “In State” and Six O Clock  News.”  I didn’t hear  “I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory” for the first one but she played it at her Atrium show a couple days later. I was wondering how many people would get the Canadian references in the song including “ The Horseshoe” and the  CBC,” but a lot of them did.


 I rushed back upstairs to the pool deck for Steve Earle’s last show with this iteration of the Dukes. As expected, it was a hit heavy show with  “Guitar Town,” “ I Ain’t Never Satisfied,” “Galway Girl” and, of course “Copperhead Road,” on which Earle played his mandolin. He seemed to be elsewhere, performing his best known numbers, basically going through the motions. He perked up for some of his newer  songs like the acidic “ It’s About Blood.” The  Mastersons’ multi-instrumental prowess added a much needed burst of energy to that set as he promised to play all of his songs about girls for his solo set.


Quaint, Quirky and Queer helps Theatre Outré celebrate 10 years

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This years Quaint, Quirky and Queer festival has a cornucopia of good times as the cornerstone of Theatre Outré’s tenth anniversary, April 6-22.

 So to celebrate, Theatre Outré welcomes a variety of acts, several old freinds and two major productions happening at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, Good Times Comedy Club and Did’s Playhaus.


Theatre Outré has been hosting Quaint, Quirky and Queer for over 20 years even before Theatre Outré was founded to showcase Lethbridge artists, particularly LBGTQ artists.

“The space that Theatre Outré has created in Lethbridge is really, really rare and really, really precious,” said actress Ash Thomson.


DJ Rabbyt stars in  How To Make Electronic music as part of Quaint Quirky and Queer This Year. Photo by Richard Amery

“I know, for myself, having this community of people has sort of given me strength to challenge some of those really common social narratives.”


Quaint, Quirky and Queer has evolved from a one night cabaret/ variety show to a two week long festival this year.


“There will be something happening almost every day. I think we only have three dark days,” said David Gabert, who has been involved with Theatre Outré since 2016. He stars with Ash Thomson in improvised tragicomedy “ No Way Out.”


There are two feature presentations bookending this year’s festival. “How to Create Electronic Music” is a theatrical music experience coming back to Theatre Outré after a sold out run in February created by Deonie Hudson and Lyndsay Labreque, aka  DJ Rabbyt .

“We both came down with Covid over the Christmas break and we created it then,” Hudson said.

“ How to  Create Electronic music” runs April 6-8, 2023 at  8 p.m. every night at Didi's Playhaus - 517a 4th Ave S.  It is about music lover Megan who has decided she wants to learn how to create music and be a DJ. She orders Rabbyt's course to learn the ways of her musical hero. Rabbyt guides Megan through the five steps to becoming a musical mastermind. 


“ It’s very visceral,” Gabert said.

The show combines several of Labreque’s passions— electronic music and  multi-media.

“The screen is in front of my and I’m performing behind it,” Labreque said.


“ It’s about  electronic music, but it’s also about the arts as a way of life,” Hudson said.

“I found a way to blend acoustic and electronic instrumentation, and smash it together with my background in visual effects to create an exciting, emotional and perhaps a slightly educational experience," Labreque said.

“ No Way Out” is a popular improvised tragicomedy created by  local improv troupe Impromptu.


“ It”s different every night. We take audience suggestions at the beginning of the show  and choose one. But the audience doesn’t know which one we’ll be doing,” he said.

 Gabert and Thomson.


The cast features David Gabert, Ash Thomson, Erica Barr and Greg Wilson plus special guests each night including Jay Whitehead, Katie Fellger and more to be announced.

“It is about two siblings who have a conversation that there is no way out of,” Gabert summarized, noting they have explored a variety of  serious topics in previous productions of the show.

 Gabert and Thomson improvised a scene about a discussion between the brother and the sister about the sister coming out to their dying father at the media call for the event..

“ But that won’t be part of  the show,” Gabert said. 


Lots of laughter and country bring in April

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March is ending with a roar and that’s no joke,  with April Fool’s Day on the horizon there is plenty of entertainment happening.

Peter and the Wolves have two Lethbridge shows this week. photo by RichardAmery

Start the week tonight, Monday, March  27  at Mojos where Luke James Bruce is hosting an open mic.


 The Lethbridge A And District Music and speech Arts Festival winds up with  performances all week and the Stars of the Festival concert, April 1 at 2 p.m. at Southminster United Church.


 Music at Noon continues in University Theatre on Tuesday, with Megumi Masaki and Keith Hamel performing at 12:15 p.m.

 The Owl Acoustic Lounge’s weekly open mic is on Tuesday.


 Paul Holden and James Oldenburg return to the Water Tower Grill  to play some jazz music  beginning at 6 p.m.

 The Slice’s weekly open mic is Wednesday.

 Gabe Thaine hosts an open mic at Theoretically Brewing on Thursdays beginning tab 6:30 p.m.


 Get ready to dance at the German Canadian Club on Thursday, March 30 as the Geomatic Attic hosts a  blues and rockabilly dance party with rockabilly band Peter and the Wolves and blues rock trio MonkeyJunk. Tickets are $50. The show begins at 8 p.m.


 Peter and the Wolves have had a busy week in Lethbridge as they were also at the Slice, on Friday. They also play the Red Tie gala at the Coast Hotel on April 1 for the United Way which recognizes the dedication and hard work and spirit  of individuals in Lethbridge.

 Tickets are $150 for dinner, the ceremony and the show. Things begin at 5 p.m. with cocktails and a silent auction followed by dinner and then the music.



Lethbridge and District Music and Speech Arts Festival features live events and new concerts

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The Lethbridge and District Music and Speech Arts Festival is back, March 20-April 1 with a full line up of talented performers from Southern Alberta and Lethbridge, plus a bonus concert.


This year there are 3,584 participants performing solo and with choirs, orchestras, bands and choirs, performing 753 pieces. Participants mostly come from Lethbridge, but there are a few of out of towners from Cardston, Taber and even High River.



“We have a full week of bands Tuesday to Friday and a full week of choirs,” enthused Jaimee Jarvie, the new general manager of the Lethbridge and District  Music and Speech arts festival.


“ It’s been great. It’s been a learning curve. It’s been amazing. But I’ve been involved with the festival as a performer or teacher since I was in Grade 1,” Jarvie said.

“It’s been a little easier because I already know a lot of the students and teachers. So it’s a joy to connect with them again and getting them excited about the festival again. It’s been wonderful, ”continued Jarvie, who has performed in the festival as part of several school, university and  community choirs as well as a solo performer.


There are performances every day beginning at 9 a.m. at Southminster United Church, St. Augustines Church and sanctuary,  Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Casa as well as the Owl Acoustic lounge. There are no performances at the Yates Theatre.


 There is also a new concert, opening the festival on Wednesday, March 22 at 7 p.m. in Southminster United Church.


The Musical Theatre Showcase Concert is March 25 at 2 p.m.and  The Stars of the Festival Wrap Up Concert is April 1 at 2 p.m.

The festival begins with Senior piano in the Casa Community Room, Monday,  March 20 and woodwind/ brass solo in St. Augustines sanctuary.


 The schedule and more details are at

Jarvie is excited to bring back handbell classes, Tuesday, March 21 at St. Augustine’s sanctuary as well as pipe organ, Friday March 24 also at the St. Augustine’s sanctuary   which they weren’t able to do because of Covid.

“ We weren’t  able to do those during the pandemic festival, but they’re back and we’re really happy about that,” she said.


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L.A. Beat is Lethbridge, Alberta's only online arts and entertainment magazine.

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