Thursday, February 28, 2008

Saoirse And Jordan at Second Cup Downtown

The Second Cup attached to the downtown library branch has an open stage every Tuesday evening, starting about 7:00 pm. Ron Taylor runs the stage and leads off. Ron is a strong folk musician, with a wide repetoire. This is an open stage for 'readers' and artists. You will often see people reading, drawing, knitting or whatever while they listen to the music.

Like most open stages, there are lots of regulars - Rob Heath, Farley Magee - but last Tuesday we had two new faces - new to me at least. I especiallly enjoyed heaing Saoirse and Jordan. Jordan has been out before, and he can be a bit restrained. Maybe Saoirse will help him to be more outgoing. It will be interesting to see what comes of this duo. Luke, also a new face, was reading Hemmingway before he gave us a few tunes -- he seems to fit right in.

If you are downtown on a Tuesday evening, drop by and catch a few tunes (and some coffee of course - I generally have decaff and a date square). And if you notice the photos on the wall - mine. Many were taken at the open stage -- the dance photos were taken in Sir Winston Churchill Square.


Second Cup photos

Marty Majorowicz Syndicate at Yardbird Suite Jam

Every Tuesday, you can get your Jazz fix for only $3.00 at the Yardbird Suite. And if you are a musician, you are welcome to sign up to play. But you'd better have the chops. These guys can be pretty intimidating if you are just a 'musician'.

The Jam sessions start with a one hour performance, at 9:00. Jamming starts at 10:00. Yardbird Jam has been a fixture for many years and is activley supported by local musicians, Grant MacEwan students, and often visited by touring musicians who happen to be in town. Hosting of the Jam can be a thankless job, currently looked after by Don Berner. Say thanks to Don next time you see him. He's been looking after this for a few years now. Don is also host of Time for Jazz on CKUA's Saturday afternoons.

Marty Marjorowicz is a solid jazz trombonist, with his syndicate, consisting of Tom King on piano, Darryl Meyer on drums and Joseph Lubinsky-Mast on bass. The place was starting to hum by 9:30 - at which time I unfortunately had to leave. Tuesdays are not usually a good night for stay out late.

You can catch more of Marty at Hulbert's on Saturday March 1 at 8:00 pm.

Marty's website Marty's Myspace
Yardbird Suite website

see all my Yardbird photos

Heather Blush at Blue Chair & Kaley Bird at Hulbert's

Heather Blush returned to the Blue Chair Cafe, with Shane (Canonball) Sutherland and Steve Hazlett. She was here in January 2007 Heather Blush and Erin Ross. I enjoyed hearing her perform with a group, as opposed to trading tunes with Erin. The crowd was clearly enjoying the music, as well as the break in Edmonton's winter weather. Lots of talking, imbibing, and interaction. I enjoyed the addition of bass and drums, giving the music more energy and complexity.

Blue Chair Photos from that annoying photo guy SLIDESHOW
Blue Chair Cafe website

After dinner at the Blue Chair, with a set of Heather Blush, I dropped by Hulbert's on my way home to hear a few tunes from Kaley Bird. Kaley is an up and coming Edmonton Singer songwriter, currently exploring different tunes, band configurations and venues. I've watched her grow in experience and confidence over the past year. She has some fun tunes, and I especially enjoyed her China tune (I think of it as the 'slow boat to china' tune).

Hulbert's Photos SLIDESHOW
Hulbert's Website

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Family Day at City Hall

City Hall is a brilliant stage. The light from above, the stairway, the size... It's like a city square - with balconys - inside the building. And we need a city square 'inside' for a lot of our year. Family day was not too cold, so we had activities inside - Cooper Studios was showcasing some of their singers, and outside, jugglers, skaters and a horse ride around City Hall.

Cooper Studios is a vocal performance career school. Five singers presented their talents to an appreciative audience seated on chairs and on the long staircase. Jack Cooper trains students in performance and gives them a place to perform. This time, there were no male performers, but last July Photos they also had a male performer. I enjoyed the vocals and the vocal variety and look forward to seeing more.

A juggler wandered around inside and outside, and a clown made balloons and 'accidental fire' to the delight of the young audience. The performances were loosley structured - perfect for groups spending some 'family time' together.
Cooper Studios Slideshow

Monday, February 25, 2008

Uptown Folk Club

The Uptown Folk Club has a great deal for musicians at their monthy open stage. Come on down, perform a few tunes - and they record directly to a DVD and give it to you - all it costs is your $4.00 performance fee. I dropped by to see who was playing. Lots of old friends and new faces too. The music is quite varied - and generally solid. Enjoyed Rock and Flower - they will be opening for STEW on March 7th. Weird that, one of the performances I enjoyed most was a song about a blind gunslinger (by Roy Stewart)-- of course I'm busy shooting pictures and missed the point! Met Jill Pollock & Jughead - and what fun they are to watch and hear. I'm told you can catch her regularly at the Druid open stage. Lots of interesting people and performances. I'll be back.

The Uptown Folk Club runs out of the Norwood Legion so there is food and drink available. Nice.

Uptown Folk Club website

Tait Roberts Duo at Hulbert's

I always enjoy hearing and meeting new jazz singers. On Feb 15th, Hulbert's featured the Alexandra Tait and Matt Roberts in the Tait Roberts Duo. I have seen Matt before, a few years ago at the Yardbird open stage. He moved to Ontario and linked up with Alex Tait. I'm glad they came 'home' and gave us a performance. I enjoyed Alex's vocals, especially when she threw some scat, based on Charlie Parker's Ornithology - into one of her tunes.

Hulbert's website

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Marleigh & Mueller at Hulbert's

If you are thinking 'party', call Marleigh & Mueller! Their Valentines performance at Hulbert's drew the audience in, and helped them sing - on stage and off. Their boisterous stage presence, and muscial friends created a lively evening. Marleigh called up Byron Leffler to sing a few tunes. The song of the evening was his smooth "My funny Valentine".

After 25 years of singing together, Marleigh Rouault and Randy Mueller have it down. Their repetoire of show tunes and torch songs will make you feel like you are in the front row at a broadway performance - with lots of crowd interaction. Hulbert's provided the smooth red wine, smooth chocolate, while Marleigh and Mueller provided the smooth tunes - and hot torch tunes. Like a good mole - you never know what to expect next, smooth spicy and meaty. The joint was jumping. And the audience was howling.

Hulbert's website

Valentines at the Blue Chair with Jim Findlay

The Jim Findlay trio, with Mike Williams on bass and Cam Neufeld on fiddle is one of the regular Sunday morning brunch features at the Blue Chair. The music is interesting, but does not intrude - perfect for a romantic valentines dinner. The trio performs many jazz standards, in a light swing manouche, gypsy jazz style.

Listening to a unique style like this, I often play the 'name the tune' game with myself. I was tripping along, getting every tune, then, Jim baffled me with a bright, expressive guitar piece. I actually got up and walked over to see if I could read a title on the music sheet. "The light of day", Jim said quietly, not missing a beat, "one of my own compositions'. Quite a long piece, with an often changing mood if I remember correctly -- somewhat like the real light of day. I always enjoy hearing a musician perform their own.

Photos Slideshow
Jim Findlay Trio myspace
The Blue Chair Cafe

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Jazzworks 2008

Jazzworks is a non-competitive band festival at the Yardbird Suite, and also making use of the Cosmopolitan Music Society rehearsal space. Bands from all around the province, and occasionally farther -- come to show off their talents and learn from professional adjudicators. In the evenings Jazzworks presents a performance of selected bands from the day's workshops. On the last evening, the adjudicators present a show for the participants.

Each band plays 3 tunes for the adjudicators, and then spends about an hour listening to comments, encouragement, etc. Jazzworks is non-competitive, and the organizers recognize that every band is at a different stage in their development, requiring different levels of advice and assistance.

The evening performances, held in the Yardbird Suite, are generally sold out with tickets to parents and friends of the band members. The Suite is an excellent venue for bands, and the new lobby area is put to use as large groups of musicians arrive, move to the stage, and back to the audience.

KUDOS to the Yardbird Suite, Joel Gray - the current Jazzworks Director (for a few years now), sponsors, organizers, the adjudicators and the volunteers who make this even possible. I know from many years experience that the organizers and adjudicators are very tired by the time it is over. Jazzworks always makes February a little more bearable.

I have been a volunteer at the Yardbird Suite for hmmm (don't actualy remember).... more than 15 years, and have followed and assisted in Jazzworks since it started. I have photographed the festival since 2003. You can see my photos at: Jazzworks

Jazzworks website
Yardbird Suite website

Friday, February 22, 2008

Harry Manx at CKUA

Sometimes my volunteering with CKUA gets me to some very special 'stages'. Today I was privileged to see, hear, and photograph Harry Manx interviewed by Lionel Rault on the Nine to Noon show. Harry is performing at the Arden this evening, and gave a taste to CKUA. I believe there are still a few tickets available.

Harry started out on the Mohan Veena, a fascinating instrument looks like it would take weeks just to tune. In conversation, he is amazingly modest about his vast experience and talents.

A second tune on guitar and then one from his new 'soon to be released CD'. Harry Manx is a very special treat. Catch him if you can.

photos Slideshow
CKUA website
Harry Manx website

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Winspear = 'a small cafe in Spain'

Photo: 'Local bellydancer 'Gypsy Lady' (Diane Szoke) posing with Paco Pena dancers, at the Westin, after the show'. Photo by Denise Leclair.

Several years ago, late in the evening, I was walking down Robson St in Vancouver with my wife and we heard some Spanish music. Investigation found a small cafe, with a group of musicians, singers and dancers at the end of a dinner party. They had moved some chairs into a small circle for the musicians, and the singer, or dancers would perform inside the circle. It turned into a magical evening that I will remember forever.

On Sunday we saw Paco Pena at Edmonton's Winspear Centre. The show started with the musicians, in a dark semi-circle, on a few chairs. Miguel Orgeta walked into a square of light - as if it was thrown from a streetlight thru an upstair's window, and started tapping his cane. And then he began to sing. The stage in the Winspear shrunk. We were transported to a small cafe.

The evening continued with music, dance, singing, and more and more and more. It was not just a wonderful evening 'we were there', in a small cafe in Spain, with magical musicians and dancers. The lighting, with squared or rectangular spots and backlight - always a bit dim, held the illusion throughout the show.

The dancers were fantastic. A rectangle of light appeared and one of the male dancers glided down, like it was an icy slope. His feet moved so fast he floated.
Charo Espino's performance was subtle and spectacular. A male dancer stomped onto the stage, like a little boy - and gave a performance so devoid of fear, that it could only be accomplished by a reckless showoff teenager.

Paco Pena's performance was stunning, and the musicians he brought with him more so. If you missed it, be sorry. Or perhaps you can redeem yourself by taking a trip to Spain, and trying to find a late night performance in a small cafe, down some side-street.

Paco Pena
Offical Paco Pena photo gallery (not my photos)
Winspear Centre

Monday, February 18, 2008

Blues Bash Party - Dark Horse Productions

On Friday the 9th of February, EBS (Edmonton Blues Society) provided some volunteer assistance to Dark Horse Productions to host a twofer, with Jimmy and The Sleepers for the first act, with the Rault Brothers following, at Bonnie Doon Hall. It was a very cold night - lots of people were running out to start their cars. But the show quickly sold out.

The Sleepers are working on their second CD. And they had T-Shirts with the logo from their first CD on sale at the door. EBS members love to dance to the blues and Jimmy and his boys quickly got the dance hall jumping with some familiar and some new tunes. The band was hot and hopping. Crawdad was pouring sweat and thrashing back and forth. The crowd was matching him move for move

After a short break Lionel and Ron Rault, with regular Bill Hobson and Stuart MacDougall took up the charge. Again the dance floor filled quickly, it was impossible to move. The Rault brothers have been playing the blues together for a few years and they know how to please. The night started at 9:00 pm, and when I left at 11:30 they were still going strong.

It was a fantastic show, a friendly blues loving audience, and a great crew of volunteers.

Edmonton Blues Society web

Strathcona Farmer's Market - Spring's Forth

As you wander through the market, you will often hear music long before you see the performer. Amity is in the reserve band, and can be heard in many small group settings as well. She moves around - the market has set times for musicians at each of the stages to give musicians a chance to perform, and to give the customers some variety.

Joe is a bit shy. But his fiddle sounds great and he plays a nice variety of pieces.

The Strathcona Farmer's Market is a quiet place in February. Many of the vendors are absent and there is acutally room to move around - in contrast to summer saturdays. There are several 'stages' musicians can sign up for, and in the summer you need to get there early to secure a spot. Of course there are always 'fringe performers' outside in warm weather.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Drew and Lindsey

I've seen Drew Malcom and Lindsey Walker at open stages a few times - and I was glad to catch them in concert. They combine songs (often more than one at a time), vocals, and an interesting guitar line to produce music that is new and exciting. You can't be bored listening to these GMCC graduates, with lots of coffeehouse experience. Drew & Lindsey are a solid musical duo.

Lindsey's vocals have a lot of power - and Drew's guitar rises to the challenge. Together they are definatlely more than the sum of the individual musicians.

I caught them at Hulbert's where many of the acts are 'the best of' the Sunday Open Stage run by Rhea March. If you want to see the best before they 'break out', check out Sunday nights at Hulbert's.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Late Night at Four Rooms

After the music is gone from many Edmonton stages, you can slip over to Four Rooms for a jazz fix. It's a great place to wind down after a show at the Winspear, the Citadel, or even -- dinner at Four Rooms. I swung buy after photographing the '8 Concert for Peace', an catching the encore from Tim Williams at the Blue Chair.

Harpe Jazz was on a break when I arrived, giving me a few minutes to talk to Terry, Thom and Dan before they started up again. I've enjoyed their music many times before - but this time, I was struck by how much the harpe sounded like a piano. Never noticed that before. I stepped forward and watched Terry closely. He was immersed in the music and certainly not aware that I had somehow 'changed my perspective'.

Four Rooms is a great place for food, drinks and music. The sound is always great, excellent performers, and view is perfect. Light from the street highlights the musicians, occasional people peeking in thru the windows (I remember a 'moon' once), a relaxed atmosphere... you know you are 'there'. I'm happy that the 'no smoking' rules are in effect, but the cigar humidor is still in the corner for those who want to indulge - after they leave.
more Four Rooms photos

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tim Williams at Blue Chair

As I stepped out of my car, I didn't hear any music. Maybe I was too late and the show was over? "Your're late," said Harold as I walked in the door, "But you're in luck - he's starting an encore." Tim gave a short introduction and started into 'New Babylon.' It's a song that grabs you by the scruff of the neck -- even more so with Tim's voice. You have to listen. Once the tune was over, many people came forward to talk to Tim, shake his hand, etc. One of the nice things about the Blue Chair concerts - you can easily meet the musicians.

Tim had three guitars on the stage, and it was clear that the crowd had enjoyed the show. Almost every seat was still full, that late at night. I have heard Tim play quite a few times and was sorry to have missed most of the show - but I can't hear everything.

I also missed Harold's food. I'll make up for it tonight (Valentines), we've booked the Blue Chair for dinner and jazz with Jim Findlay trio.

photos SLIDESHOW Tim's Website

Tim Williams with Georgette Fry at the Yardbird
Tim Williams at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival

The Blue Chair Cafe photos

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

8 Minutes of Peace on 08.08.08

The symbol 8 stands for infinity. All we are asking is a start. 8 minutes of peace. The second "8" concert for peace was on February 8th at Riverdale School. It featured Samantha Schultz, Michael Rault, Joe Nolan and Kaley Bird - the U-22 musicians. As well as Mike Ehlers, Jessica Heine, Darryl Matthews and Lynett McKell.

8 Also displayed works of art by members of Night of Artists, paintings, photos, etc. It was a cold night, and a warm crowd. With a slate of 8 'up and coming artists' the crowd was hearing many new voices. Samantha Schultz is still only 16, but she is getting more mature and polished every time I see her. Her voice is getting stronger and her stage presence more confident. Michael Rault's driving, rocking stage presence shook and exhilerated the audience. Joe Nolan took us from the introspective instrumental 'Blue Chair', to the social question "Is the world half asleep?" and Kaley Bird encouraged us to join in with our ham bone (coconut version).

This was the first time I enjoyed the music of Mike Ehlers and I loved the subtle guitar accompaniment he added to some of the other performers. Jessica Heine's Either Way CD has been getting play on CKUA. I love her "Funny how the Days Go By". It has a melody that flows like a brook. She was one of the performers at Edmonton's Folk Music Festival this summer - and I am sure we will see and hear more of her. Darryl Matthews' hammer on style gives intensity to everything he performs. And Lynette McKell. I've heard her often at local open stages - it was great to see and hear her in concert. She took us from Boat/Float, an upbeat love song, to a song so sad all the other performers and audience just stopped everything to listen. Lynett's emotion was stronger than any 'tasty guitar lick'.

photos . SLIDESHOW

Where am I going tonight?

Watch for the next "8" event on March 8th. To learn more, or help out with "8", contact Phil Alain
Peace be with you.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

CBC Centre Stage - Urban Spirits

On Friday CBC's Centre Stage 'Urban Spirits' featured Angela Gladue, Red Power Squad and Freshly Squeezed. I heard Angela on my way in to work in the morning and decided to drop by.
It was damn cold -- for some reason there is no parking downtown any more and I had to walk several blocks. But I arrived early enough to unfog my glasses and enjoy the show. Once the dancing started, things moved pretty fast. Back-flips without warning. This is not a sport for old men. The floor in Edmonton Centre is rock solid - and I am surpised there were no broken bones. Mixing urban smarts with hot hip-hop dance and intelligent rap - lunchtime went by pretty fast.

CBC Centre stage is a lunchtime enlightenment.Shows range from singer songwriters, to poetry festivals to dragon dance. What I like is the short introduction and the obviously unrehearsed show that generally follows.

CBC's Urban Spirits
Photos: Angela Gladue at CBC . SLIDESHOW
My CBC Galleries

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Too Much Music!

Jim Serediak at Hulbert's SLIDESHOW
Edmonton is definately the place for live music. I had to choose between three excellent shows on Thursday. We chose dinner at Hulbert's, with Jim Serediak, Jamie Philp and John Towill - Jim's CD release of The Transcendent Sky. I haven't heard much from Jim over the past few years - he doesn't get out much, I guess. Jim is a thoughtful guy, and his tasty melodies were well supported by Jamie and John. I'm looking forward to hear more from him.

Kaley Bird at Cafe Select SLIDESHOW
Kaley Bird unplugged at Cafe Select. Twenty year old Kaley is definately a budding talent. Here solo show was well attended and the crowd was listening and having a good time. Kaley is a hard working singer songwriter, soaking up lots of gigs and experience. Give her a listen.

Shuyler Jansen and Jim Bryson at the Blue Chair SLIDESHOW
The Blue Chair
Shuyler Jansen and Jim Bryson at the Blue Chair Cafe. I only managed to catch a few tunes - and I want to hear more. Jim sounded much better in person than his web tunes on my tinny notebook. Shuyler's voice was rich and powerful. I enjoyed Jim's banter and had to tear myself away (it was late - and I have to work Fridays). Harold's Blue Chair Cafe brings consistently good music and high quality food. Check it out.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Hulbert's Open Stage - BEST!

Rhea March runs a tight ship. She has to. Last Sunday's open stage featured 20 different musicians, playing guitar, banjo, violin, keyboard, harmonica, drums, glockenspiel, saxophone, hambone - and of course vocalizing. Performing alone, in featured as well as pickup groups - moving smoothly on and off the stage.
Hulbert's Open stage happens on Sunday night and finishes promptly at 10. 'Are you doing an original?' she asks. If you don't perform your own music, she won't give you much time on stage. On the other hand, if you just happen to be in from down east - and performed last night at the Jubilee, the Winspear, etc - she will give you an extra tune or two.

But things move fast. The music is always excellent - and the atmosphere upbeat.
Rhea is a consomate open stage host. She welcomes, introduces and encourages every performer, customer, and even the staff throughout the evening. She starts with a full slate - if you want a spot on stage you may need to arrive very early and sign up. And she smooths over changes throughout the evening as people disappear, and arrive unexpectedly.

Get there early if you want a seat. Earlier if you are bringing friends and need a table. The place is always packed.

Hulbert's Open Stage on Feb 03 . SLIDESHOW
Hulbert's Open Stage series
Hear more of: Drew and Lindsey, Hulbert's on saturday. They had the open stage rocking.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Andrea storms the house at Jeffrey's

Andrea House

was an unplanned fill due to multiple bookings for members of The Fuzz. The crowd I talked to was pleasantly surprised to see someone 'fresh and new'. Although Andrea is not new to Edmonton by any means, many people in the audience had not experienced her whimisical brand of music. Of course she was, as always, fresh. The band, consisting of Chris Smith, Thom Golub, Bob Blair and drummer Duke Paetz put on an excellent show for a sold out crowd. Even in -30 snow, whenever one table emptied, more people came in.

Andrea was selling the last of her Heart's Hotel CD, in preparation for a new CD release -- and we heard many of the new, and some old tunes as well. I picked up one myself and listened to her on the long way home. I look forward to the new CD and the tune I call 'her Fado tune', which I missed last night by arriving late.

Slideshow of Andrea House Photos

Get out and enjoy some live music! It warms you up.

Pete Turland at the Blue Chair Cafe

with Chris Brzezicki and Kevin Lesmister rocked to a small crowd at the Blue Chair, where the cold weather continued to keep audiences small. A shame, there are lots of people out there who enjoy his music. I especially enjoy the tunes where Pete plays clean sharp rifs, without the fancy fuzz box stuff. Does my memory fail me, or did he actually play a Beatles tune in the first set?

Slideshow of Pete Turland Photos

I always enjoy meeting and hearing new voices, and Lois Mullen -

Underneath the Fray at Hulbert's

was no exception. Again, a crowd shrunken by the cold listened as Lois moved from her own tunes through covers of Johnny Cash and others. At first I thought a woman singing a Cash tune would be a bit strange - but she chose well and delivered.

Slideshow of Underneath the Fray Photos

Friday, February 1, 2008

Underneath The Fray


Hulberts: Underneath the Fray; Lois Mullin from Saskatoon
Blue Chair: Pete Turland
Jeffrey's: Andrea House

Last Night


Mile Zero always manages to provoke intelligent thought and discussion, and last night was no exception. An enthusiastic crowd extended the discussion (the crowd almost had to be forced out of the theatre to the reception), and many expressed their desire to see the films again. I found it especially interseting to hear the dancers talk about their work in a 'normal' dance performance, vs the work in a film. Was it dance? or Film? It became clear that you cannot 'film' a dance. The audience (camera) at a normal dance performane is very far away and only gives a very limited perspective. Filming directly does not capture the essence of the dance. When you create a film of dance, the dancers, the filmmakers and even the musicians need to make dramatic changes resulting in a new work of art.

The four films were each unique in many ways. Kitchen Angels was witty in sound, motion and ideas. Filled the audience with fun an laughter. Fisherman's daughter was thought provoking and the discussion made it clear that different audience members saw and felt different things. Nightshot combined a chance encounter with a fire, and studio improvisation to represent and explore the myth of Baba Yaba, the forest spirit or witch. In Luz, the camera moved in, deliberatly create a landscape of the dancer's body parts. The film let me feel the physical aspects of dance.