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L.A. Beat

Kirbfest features entertainment for all ages and tastes at the Yates Theatre

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Form the banks of the Oldman River on the Blood Reserve, to the Yates Theatre, Kirbfest, comes to Lethbridge, this Friday, June  17 and 18.

Willy Big Bull is excited to play Kirbfest with his band WinterCount, June 18. Photo by Richard Amery

New West Theatre is doing something a little different by hosting this multicultural event full of stories and song.


“It’s not a First Nations festival, it‘s a muti-cultural festival,” emphasized Willy Big Bull, who is excited to play original “sad songs” and popular covers with his new band WinterCount featuring Calgary musicians drummer Wayne Summers, multi-instrumentalist bassist  Guy Plecash and  guitarist Mark Templeton.


“We’ll be playing  rock and roll, boogie blues band R and B music plus my sombre ass songs,” said Big Bull, who has been playing  solo shows around Lethbridge and  special events with University of Lethbridge community radio station CKXU. Plus Arts  in the Park last summer. He has also played Kirbfest since founder John Kirby started it in 2012 or 2013.


“It was called the festival across the river or something like that, but nobody wanted to call it that. They started calling it Kirbstock then Kirbfest,” Big Bull chuckled, praising Kirby.


“ He’s a hardworking man and so dedicated to music,” he said.


New West Theatre Artistic director Kelly Rhea noted Kirby reached out to New West about collaborating on the festival during Arts in the Park last year.

“We’ve done collaborations in the past with groups like the Geomatic Attic and wanted to work with Kirby on this,” Reay said.


“This show is a mix of musical styles and theatre for young people,” Reay said, noting the Band Formerly known as Karen Lewis and Pam as well as the new Hootenanny show will appeal to children and families.


John Wort Hannam is excited to close off the first night of  Kirbfest June 17. Photo by Richard Amery

“It’s about really celebrating music, songs and stories. It’s about bringing people together,” Big Bull said.


Big Bull is a late bloomer, only starting playing guitar at 22 after his father gave him a guitar.


“People started asking me to play at funerals, and I didn’t think they’d want to hear anything too happy, so I started playing gospel songs and sadder songs,” he said, adding Kirbfest was where he first started being able to hone his chops in front of a lot more people.


“It’s a huge deal for me being asked to play Kirbfest,” he enthused.


There are three different shows.

 Friday, June 17 features Kirby Smith, Randy McHugh and Sheila Fox; Steve Keenan, Desert Orchid, Jorge Aviles, Double Rider and John Wort Hannam closing the show.


John Wort Hannam and Willy Big Bull are among the performers at Kirbfest June 17 and 18. Photo by Richard Amery

 The music begins anew on Saturday with a kid focussed show beginning at  at 2 p.m. with Quade Mountain Horse, Blackfoot Dance Troupe, Hootenanny!, the Band Formerly Known and Karen, Lewis and Pam, Chris Weasel Moccasin and 12-year-old performer Jax  Running Rabbit.


 The evening program begins at 7 p.m. with   Bailey Kate, The little Lethbridge Opera company, Richard and Gloria Red Crow, Kyrese  Mountain Horse, Joel Stretch of Starpainter and Willy Big Bull and WinterCount closing off the night at 10 p.m..

Tickets are $10 for the show.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 15 June 2022 15:11 )  
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