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L.A. Beat

Historic Lethbridge Festival celebrates the ’70s

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Historic Lethbridge and several Lethbridge organizations are going back to the ’70s for the annual Historic Lethbridge Festival with several events happening in the next couple of weeks celebrating the styles, music and movies of the 1970s.

Things begin on Friday, May 2 at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery with a 1970s happy hour from 5-7 p.m. There will be live entertainment, ”70s themed cocktails, frosty craft beers and a costume contest for best dressed  1970’s outfits, so dig out that old polyester suit and wide tie or your favourite disco outfit on and come out and dance.

Brian Black, Bente hansen and Mwansa Mwansa are excited about the Historic lethbridge Festival this week. Photo by Richard Amery
“We decided we wanted to  cover what was important,” said Brian Black, chairman of the  Historic Lethbridge community who is also teaches at the University of Lethbridge in the music department.
“It was an important year for building in Lethbridge.  The Whoop Up Drive bridge was built in the ’70s. It is difficult to imagine  Lethbridge without it and the University of Lethbridge was being built as well,” he continued.

He observed the tumultuous 1970s were an important time in North American history, with the Vietnam War, the Kent State shootings, Richard Nixon, freeing hostages in Iran and in Canada beginning with the FLQ October crisis, though the era of Pierre Elliot Trudeau and ending with the NEP and the Quebec referendum.
 So there is a lot of ground to cover for this year’s festival.

“We wanted to capture the vibrant and exciting culture happening,” said Black who remembered being a young adult in Montreal during the  FLQ crisis.
La Cite des Prairies is  exploring the darker side of the ’70s with  their first contribution — the film ‘La Maison du pecheur.”

“ It’s the first time we’ve been involved,“ said Marie Hélené Lyle, of CineImagine, one of several French cultural organizations operating at the  La Cite des Prairies, and who all will be contributing.

The film is about the FLQ crisis, which sparked Pierre Elliott Trudeau to  implement the War Measures Act.
 The film will be screened at  7 p.m., May 7.

“ I remember there was troops all over the place. it seemed so arbitrary. But it made everybody just take a step back,” recalled Black of the  October Crisis.

Lethbridge Public Library technician and audio-visual services co-ordinator Sheila Braund  is excited the Lethbridge public Library will be hosting several of the events. They will be screening iconic 1970s movies Sven Spielberg’s shark horror film “Jaws” on  Monday, May 5 at 7 p.m. and John Travolta’s  disco hit  “Saturday Night  Fever,” May 9 at 7 p.m.

“ I remember seeing “Jaws.”  It gave me nightmares,” Braund observed adding the library is always excited to be  part of the Historic Lethbridge Festival.
“The Crossings Branch Library will be hosting a Saturday cartoon afternoon from 1-3 p.m. on May 10.

“ The 1970s were a lot of fun. The Beatles were still around and the Rolling Stones. I always liked the British bands then and I got married in the 1970s,” she reminisced. Some of the music and fashion of the ’70s will be celebrated at the library May 6 with the “Can You Dig It” Concert in the Lethbridge Public Library Theatre Gallery 7 p.m. The fashion will be supplied by  the University of Lethbridge Department of theatre and dramatic arts’ Leslie Robison-Greene and Teresa Heyburn

The concert will be presented  by the U of L  Music Department and features Jesse Plessis, Bente Hansen, Mwansa Mwansa and the Integra Contemporary & Electroacoustic Ensemble.

“Jesse Plessis will be playing some songs from Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ ” said Bente Hansen, who is performing at two  concerts with the Historic Lethbridge festival —  the Can  You Dig It concert on May 6 and “Stayin” Alive in the ’70s rock concerts, May 10 featuring Mwansa Mwansa,  the Groove Apostles including senior members of the University of Lethbridge music program plus the Incanto Singers and U of L Youth Singers directed by Kathy Matkin-Clapton.
Tickets are $20 (regular), $15 senior/alumni/student.

“ We’ll be playing ‘I Can See Clearly Now,’ she said adding the music mostly concentrates on the pop side of the ’70s music spectrum, so there aren’t any Led Zeppelin or the Who, Kiss, or more rock and roll oriented bands.

“The festival examines a very specific, more pop based side  of the 70s,” she said.

“ I was 10 in 1970, but I had older brothers, so while everybody else was listening to pop music, I was listening to bands like Supertramp,” she recalled.
“ I remember all of the bad clothes in the ’70s. We moved around  a lot. We were living in Pincher Creek and then we moved to Lethbridge and it was ‘oh wow,” she recalled.

Lethbridge Jazz festival’s Don Robb is covering the jazz music of the ’70s at Sterndale Bennett Theatre Thursday, May 8 at  8 pm which will include music from  cats like Stanley Turrentine, Grover Washington Jr,  Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea.

“Herbie Hancock was doing some amazing things then and still is today,” Robb observed.
“That’s when  FM radio was starting to emerge and  smooth jazz was pretty popular,” Robb reminisced.
 The band includes Randy Epp on keyboards, Kyle Harmon on drums, Ryan Heseltine on saxophone and Robb playing trumpet and flugelhorn.
Tickets cost  $15 (regular), $10 (senior/student) at Long & McQuade and Music Court. Sponsored by Lethbridge Jazz Society.

Historic Lethbridge Festival is brought to you by: U of L Faculty of Fine Arts, Lethbridge Historical Society, Lethbridge Jazz Society, Lethbridge Public Library, Southern Alberta Art Gallery and 
Association Canadienne Francaise.

More information can be found at

— By Richard Amery, L.A.  Beat Editor
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