Monday, March 31, 2008

2008/03/28 Three Viewings at the Varscona

Shadow Theatre's 'Three Viewings' by Jeffrey Hatcher was an unexpected pleasure. I knew something of the theme before going in. And I'm quite familiar with the Varscona stage, and anyone who catches more than a few plays in Edmonton knows of Davina Stewart.

Dave Clarke played Emil, a funeral mortician, falling in love with one of the 'regular vultures' in attendance. With a strange, almost macabre result. Emil hovers and whispers 'I love you'. His quiet 'unobtrusive' hovering pervades the interludes between pieces. Mac (Davina) was a quirky, bisexual, hard driving rationalizing pre-grave robber. In and out, quick and clean - no missing fingers here. In the end she shows us that she does have a heart. Davina is so versatile - and this time I actually 'forgot' she was Davina during the play. Patricia Casey as Virginia, the helpless housewife, who is given a hand from beyond the grave. The last story lifted us back to life and the living.

I found the one-two-three format, with no intermission, a bit long. I suspect having an intermission creates logistical problems and Shadow Theatre decided on the longer format to simplify the organizing.

The Varscona Theater is a busy place. It is difficult to keep track of how many theatre groups use the Varscona, plus an occasional CD release, or other private event. And then there's the fundraisers, and of course The Fringe. I spend a lot of time at the Varscona. A friendly, volunteer run place.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Terry Morrison and John Gorham at Hulbert's

I need to hear more Terry Morrison. I caught a few tunes at Hulberts, and hearing the 'herbaceous ballad of coriander mandrake' again, I immediatly bought her CD. I put it on in my car, and started at 9. The ballad. Drove home and went to bed.

Next day, out to the hardware store in the afternoon, and thinking: "That's a really nice singer, I'll wait for CKUA to tell me who it is. Strange, doesn't sound like blues...". Then I realize it's Terry, doing 'Big Trouble". Into the hardware store, out, and off to groceries, and I hear the 'thinking song'. It happens again. I stop in the Safeway lot, wait to the end, and when 'no announcer' appears,

I pull out the CD cover and have a look. Terry Morrison again (still).

What is it about her voice? I have had people who study music 'correct' my impressions about who is a better musician. But, I know what I like. Frankly, I like music that transmits an emotion (and I like photos that have emotional content as well). And I like Terry Morrison. There is something about her voice that can be pensive, or laughing, or crying with joy. You hear it, and you feel it.

I arrived late at Hulbert's, and there was still a substantial crowd listening to Terry and John -- I'm not the only one who likes her stuff. Next time, I'll have to plan better and arrive earlier. I'll probably need to reserve to get a table.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Prairie Pilgrims at Hulbert's

When I saw Prairie Pilgrims listed for Hulbert's, I wondered who that was? When I met them on the stairway (sort of Hulbert's 'green room') I found I knew them all. Logan Sarchfield, Hannah Goa, Sue Decker and Ron Mercer, put them together and you have Prairie Pilgrims.

The music, arrangemnts and instrumentation was varied. Hannah and Sue on multiple instruments, vocals. Logan singing 'Moondance', with Hannah doing a bit of a solo on violin. Sue moving to the drum set. An 'instrument exchange' with appreciative the audience -the place was packed. Hannah and Sue join in harmony for Blue Stone Mountain. Unfortunately, I had to run. This is the kind of music I love to hear when I can lean back, listen, and slowly sip my Hoegaarden.


Tim Hus and Spider Bishop at the Blue Chair

'Pick-up trucks, rodeos and dust', the hurt'n albert'n picks up a hitch-hiker and pens a tune.

It's clear that Tim lives in the country -- in the west. Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the northwestern states. Simple tunes, country styles and a guitar that sounds like a freight train.

Spider Bishop put on his red shirt to match the Canadian flag hung at the back of the stage. The crowd soaked up music, and 'canadian'.

Tim Hus. An 'original country' night at the Blue Chair Cafe.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Jonny Mac Attack at the Castle Rock

I had heard about the Jazz jams at the Rock a few weeks before, and having moved to St Albert, I made my way over last week. I immediatly discovered that althought most of the patrons, and the owner did not know me -- a lot of the musicians did. Enrique introduced me to the owner, I met others, Jonny introduced me to more -- and I was happy to meet an old friend, Ralph Pretz - who I had not seen since his performance at the Yardbird Suite in 1995.

Jonny and the guys were honking up a jazz storm, so I picked up a Stella from a newby bartender and took a listen. The crowd was friendly, sociable, and attentive. I was surprised at the quality of the music - and then I talked to Enrique. "I moved here a few years ago" he said. "I walked into the Castle Rock and discovered many fantastic musicians - that I had never met before. And I have been around". So it goes. Living in Edmonton, we often assume nothing is happening in the 'burbs'. Well, it's happening at The Rock. I see they have Slow Burn in this weekend, and if I remember correctly, it's Hank Leonhard - with his Tacoy Ride friends no doubt, next weekend. And music throughout the week as well.

It was announced that in April, Mark Amar will be hosting is 200th jam session. Once I shed my day job, I might be spending a lot more time over here.


Castle Rock gallery

Madly, Gloriously, Deeply in Love - Story Slam at Blue Chair

Story Slam at the Blue Chair. Sign up at 7, stories start at 8. No story -- good, we need people to be judges. Make your donation, winner takes all. No second place here. The third Wednesday of every month storytellers take over at the Blue Chair. many of the competitors are accomplished, or working writers. There are always new faces.

Roxanne Felix won, finally, last month. I guess that's how Susan talked her into hosting. She even managed to keep Lisa at bay. Well done. Of course this gave Susan Hagan, one of the organizers - a chance to tell her tale of giving up smoking, and blaming everyone else. Then JP gave us a tale of a poet, a scientist, musician, silent observer, statistician, trapped in time. Because I'm taking pictures, I often find JP's items difficult to follow. This time he worked in enough repition to keep me in synch. Renee was up next. New to Story Slam I think. An intereting tale with a twisted sense of time and place. I talked to her afterwards, and she was experimenting with different ways to tell a tale.

A break - usually after 5 stories, but today we did not have a full slate. Very unusual, the winnings almost always top $300, bringing out lots of competitors. After the break, and old hand and previous winner Mark Nixon took the lead with his 'new boss', explaining why nobody gives a damn about the work, as long as you make it look good. Unseen, unread, ignored and wasted. Then Terrance Harding, another newcomer, told us about his failed love and his bittersweet (or was it just bitter) wishes for her success. Taking final marks, and all the money. See you next month.


Breezy and Friends at Little Flower - Fiddler's Roost

Little Flower Open Stage moved to Fiddler's Roost some time ago due to renovations, and then to avoid a rent hike. I think of it as a step up, even if it is downstairs.

For those of my age, Fiddler's Roost is the 'old media club'. I remember hearing Garnet Rogers there many, many years ago. Bernie runs the place now, and has many different open stages and music circles throughout the week. Located on 99th street and 86 ave - you'll see the sign outside when there is music. Down the stairs, pay your two bucks - and make yourself at home. You can find a cool beer, some chips, and sometimes even a full meal if there is a special event happening.

Little Flower Open Stage happens on Wednesdays. Breezy Brian Gregg is almost always in attendance (although Pascal recently covered when Brian was checking out the politics in Cuba). When I came in, John Peterson was making music with Scot Morgan on bass and Pat Flanders on drums. Then Alin Rogoz gave us some soft bass solos. I think it was the first time Alin visited - always nice to see someone new, do something different. Then Dr John joined up with Breezy while Pascal noodled on the piano. It was late (for me, on a weeknight) - but as I left Maurice Jones came down the stairs. Sorry I missed him - but at least I had a chance to say hello. I asked, but he has sold all of his CDs and needs to make some more!


Fiddler's Roost website

No Leonard Cohen at Hulberts Open Stage

With Cohen in the news, I seem to hear his songs everywhere... And maybe someday at Hulbert's open stage --- but only if he actually shows up. Hulbert's open stage is unique, because they podcast, artist can only do their own songs. So Cohen can do Cohen.

Don't think this creates a scarcity of music - much the contrary. With Edmonton's hot economy - we have many musicians passing thru, or coming here for 'day jobs'. And it doesn't take long for them to find Hulbert's open stage, and Rhea March's open welcome.

On March 16, we saw some old friends with new tunes, including Carla Anderson, Joe Nolan and Ken Stead - and made some new friends Mike Magaw, Kerry Krishna, OJ and the very young, budding songwriter Megan. And of course, as always, many others. And tonight I saw Brad Hardstaff sharing his percussion sounds - and beautiful drums, with several of the performers. Rhea is always managing a rapidly changing list as the night passes. The open stage closes early - 10:00 but having to go to work early on Monday, I don't often manage to stay for the entire show.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Carrie and Alex at Steeps

Steeps is a very small stage... A narrow tea house, with some space near the entrance for music. But the sound is good, the atmosphere is very relaxed. They have music on Friday nights, from 8:30 to 10:30. You can find their music schedule, and more on Facebook under the group Steeps Old Glenora.

Carrie gave me a head's up that they were doing a special performance on Sunday evening. I heard Carrie and Alex two years ago in the same location - and it was nice to catch up with them. We talked a bit about Cohen's "Hallelujah" as he had just been named to the Rock and Roll hall of fame. "What type of music does Cohen create?" asked Alex - poetry, was our conclusion.

It was a quiet night, perfect time to chill with some hot tea, and listen to a few tunes. Good music, quiet location, excellent tea and lots of choices. What else do you need for a Sunday evening?


My Steeps gallery

Rick Fines and Suzie Vinnick at Blue Chair

The place was packed. The music was great and the audience was enjoying intensely. "Wow, they are fantastic", I said quietly, to Mike Sadava, and he pointed to the 'silence' poster beside the stage.

From "We've Got a Love Like That" to "How'd You Know I Missed You?". Voices a bit rough, sound very, very smooth. Singing solo, harmonizing, Suzie soars, Rick provides a foundation. Then Rick leads off with his unique voice.

I had two other stages to visit, but I had to stop here for a while. I do get out a lot, and Rick Fines and Suzie Vinnick was the best show I have heard in some time. "They've got a sound like that".

And the Blue Chair, true to form -- during the break the musicians wander into the audience to say hello and sell CDs. A great place to hear music, pick up some gifts for yourself and others, and meet the music makers.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jim Guiboche at The Argyle Casino

Jim invited me over to the Argle Casino to catch some of the Sleepers, and of course I brought my camera. Casino security can be a bit 'touchy', so I made a point of going over and asking for permission to take some photos. It took a while, but eventually I got permission. "only a few, and just the band". No problem.

Jimmy had regulars Grant Stovel on drums and Chris Brzezicki on bass - with Alex Vargas singing. Scott McReady was playing the harmonica. When I came in, Hank Leonhardt was doing a few tunes - and I got a chance to listen, but no permission to photograph yet.

The Argyle Casino was packed - I had to park a quarter mile away. Busy place on a Friday night! Of course most of the customers were enjoying Jimmy's blues as 'backgound' to the ching-ching of machines. There was a small crowd of friends up near the stage, chatting and chillin'.


Paul Bromley at Hulbert's

Paul Bromley performed after Tanyss Nixi, giving Hulbert's audiences two shows in one night. I had a busy night, but wanted to catch Paul's new hairstyle, and to hear Jennifer Wong do some vocals. I have photographed Jenny as a dancer with Vibe Tribe, but never heard hear sing. They did Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah
', a tune we all know and love. Then Paul brought the audience on board to join in one of his songs. And we all left with that 'feel good together' emotion as our bodies joined in sound.


Tanyss Nixi at Hulbert's

Hulbert's was hosting a twofer, with Tanyss up first, suppoorted by James Patterson. She has certainly performed around Edmonton at lot, but somehow, our paths had not crossed before. I arrived late, and only had a few minutes to listen - and noted that I enjoyed her clear, soulful sound.


Museum of Mental Objects (MOMO) in the Timms Foyer

Judy Freya Sibayan is curator and Museum of Mental Objects (MOMO). On March 14, 2008, she added an item to her collection, a work of art by Tanya Lukin-Linklater. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance - although no photos were permitted while the museum was open. I was permitted to take some photos before it opened, and after it closed.

When the museum opened, Judy gave a presentatation of the works currently installed, of which there are 10. The works ranged from mystical simple beauties, to a bright, witty, stab of light, confusing to some of the patrons - delighting others. Judy's presentation consisted of a short introduction to each work - and then a verbal delivery of the work as it was installed. She explained that her capacity to hold works is limited, and noted that some works have gone missing. On one occasion, she was offered a work - who could decline? But shortly afterwards the work was lost. Pity.

Judy Freya Sibayan Photos SLIDESHOW

Tanya had been invited to prepare a work for installtion in the gallery. She was called forward to install her work. Tanya whispered the work to Judy, who repeated it back quietly. It took some time for the installation to be completed. The work being fairly complex, and I suspect quite foreign to Judy, although it was in English. Judy then presented the work to the gallery patrons. There was a small installation error, and Tanya made a minor correction - and the work was presented again.

The work was beautiful and pure Tanya Lukin-Linklater. I have seen Tanya perform several times, and if I had heard the work, I could have identified it as Tanya without question.

The presentation was followed by a discussion of the work, the installation process, 'copy' issues - a very interesting converation. And then MOMO closed. And we got to talk to Judy again. And have more snacks.

Tanya in performance - Water

Tanya in performance - Culuk "Feather"

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Celtara at Blue Chair

I managed to pop in for a few minutes to hear a bit of Celtara at the Blue Chair. Harold had told me they were five solid musicians, and he had met them when they were booked for a private event.

A variety of instruments, tunes, voices and harmonies, in a Celtic tradition. The music is traditional, rich and varied. I only got a small taste -- I need to hear more of this. Their Celtara mySpace shows that they are a busy group - maybe I can catch them again soon.


Celtara website
Blue Chair website
Blue Chair photos

Olive Reading Series at Hulbert's

I had seen announcements of the Olive Reading series a few times - but not managed to get there in the past. I picked a good night to hear some poetry and meet people. I was only there a few minutes when Chris said to a new customer 'no, we can't bring out any more chairs. Everyone seems to have saved a poem for tonight.' I had arrived at the annual senior undergraduate poetry class reading, hosted by Maria Chan and Bert Almon.

It was a fast poeted (is that a word?) evening. A small book of poems 'Under the Covers' was available - and some of the poets read from the book, others from notes -and one, as you can see in the photos, supported his poetry with drawings. We heard stories about the conception of poems, followed by poems.

After the formal part of the evening, there were six more people who took up the 'open stage' portion of the evening, including Chris Martyniuk -- one of Hulbert's owners, to deliver their short poems. I, and the crowd, especially enjoyed the one poem dedicated to two schizophrenic homeless friends "Next Week".


Hulbert's webpages

My spoken arts photos

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Laura Crema at Yardbird Suite

I missed Laura Crema the last time she was at the Yardbird. Being a volunteer at the Suite, as soon as I saw her name on the list - I signed up as House Manager. I started volunteering at the Suite many years ago so that I would be reminded to go, and also forced to stay for the entire show. The rewards are many - lots of jazz friends, opportunites to meet many musicians as they tour accross the city, province country and around the world. And of course great music.

Laura came from Vancouver with Bill Coon - guitar, Paul Rushka - bass, Paul Townsend on drums and George McFetridge on piano. I hadn't seen Bill Coon for many years - although he has been in town, we just didn't seem to cross paths. I bumped into Paul recently in Vancouver.

I do love singers, and Laura impressed me. Her tune 'Spring is Here', the tile cut from her latest CD seemed a bit early for Edmonton, but the weather was strangely warm - it has been much colder since then. Seems she brought spring with her CDs - and went home with a much lighter load, having sold quite a few of them. If I remember correctly, she saved that tune for last - and it was still warm out when she left - 'round midnight'.

The Yardbird gets very different crowds depending on the type of music - and I warned the bartender (also a volunteer) that we would sell lots of wine with a singer in the house. The first three customers ordered a 'bottle of red', and we had to go hunting in the back storage for more.


Laura Crema's website

Yardbird Suite website
All my Yardbid photos

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Colleen Brown at the Blue Chair

I arrived late, but managed to catch the last few tunes, including 'Boyfriend'. Colleen Brown was supported by Peter Belec on guitar - I think this is the first time he has appeared at the Blue Chair. I always enjoy Colleen's music, and she is fun to watch in performance as well. Check her out at: Colleen Brown's mySpace

Blue Chair Photos
Blue Chair website

Joseph Lubinski-Mast at the Yardbird Suite

Tuesday Jam sessions at the Yardbird Suite start with a 'featured group', followed by a jam session, supported by members of the featured group. Joseph Lubinski-Mast has worked with many local musicians as he rounds out his skills and reputation. It was great to see him lead a jazz quartet at Tuesday's jam.

Joseph was supported by Dino Dominelli on sax, Darryl Meyer on Drums and Peter Belec on guitar. The choice of music was very jazzical - musical, complex but not over the edge. I especially enjoyed the Keith Jarrett piece Memories of Tomorrow.


Yardbird Jam galleries
Yardbird website

Monday, March 17, 2008

Scott Cook with Maurice Jones at the Empress

When Scott Cook email me that Maurice Jones would be with him at the Empress - I had to go. But I had to email back to ask 'where is the Empress?'. The Empress is a new music venue on Whyte Ave, just off 99th street. I got there well before the music, and it was packed. Friends told me it was even busier the last time they were there. I don't have any idea where everyone parked?

Scott Cook started out with his powerful delivery of his songs - and his gregarious and friendly stage presence. Next I got another chance to hear Jesse Dee deliver his 'Sweet Serenety, where are you know?" A highly original tune. Jesse was joined by Jacquie. And then Maurice Jones - he is quite a character. His huge hands wrapped around a tiny ukalele. There is no-one who sounds like Maurice. Or sings the songs he sings. It was great to see, and hear, him up and about again.

As I left the Empress I saw a few people outside. Smokers, I thought as I stepped out into the cold. Nope. A lineup. And the security staff was counting bodies as I left, and saying we can fit in 5 more - that's it. Great music. Loud and crowded.


Gathering for Hugh Smith

I hardly knew Hugh Smith, although I know he was behind much of the music I heard locally. I met him once at the Night of Artists and took a couple of photos. When he recently passed away, there was a gathering of many local musicians to honour his life and his contribution to the music scene in Edmonton. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon, in Bonnie Doon Hall, where he spent many hours as director of the Bonnie Doon Folk Club. His presence filled us with music, and his absence has left a quiet space.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lauren Busheikin at Four Rooms

I love jazz music, and I am partial to actually hearing the words to a song, so I was looking forward to catching some of Lauren Eva Busheikin at Four Rooms. I have heard her a few times before with Brennan Cameron, they seem well suited to each other. Brennan is so quiet, unobtrusive, in manner and playing - I almost have to remember to take his picture. This evening she had Joseph Lubinski-Mast on bass as well. Joe is becoming an in demand man about town. A few weeks ago, I seem to remember him performing on three successive nights, with three different groups.

The music was smooth and easy listening jazz, just right for a late time on Saturday night. From Nature Boy, to Fly to the Moon, to Dinji - the crowd relaxed and let the music flow through the room.

I love the lighting in Four Rooms, although the `WALK`light accross the street can be a bit annoying at times, the back-light thru the window creates a beautiful setting. Good food, great service and excellent jazz - what more could you ask for?


See all of my Four Rooms galleries

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Gord Matthews at Jeffrey's Cafe

After catching Big Hank at the Blue Chair, and Andrew Glover at the Yardbird, I swung by Jeffrey's to catch a bit of Gord Matthews. I first saw Gord many years ago, with KD. Now days, I often hear is composition 'Third Best Thing' on my favorite radio - CKUA. Gord was supported by Michael Becker. I slid in enjoyed a few tunes, said hello and headed home to bed after a late night out.

Jeffrey's Cafe is a small restaurant, smaller if you want to be near the music. The fireplace wall separates the cafe into two sections. Arrive early, or make sure you book a table in the front section if you are coming to hear the music. Because of the small area in the front - it often fills up early in the week, or even before.

Jeff was in the house, and we said a quick hello. He's generally around, working the bar. Say hello next time you drop by. It's that kind of place.


Gord's webpage

Jeffrey's Cafe

Friday, March 14, 2008

Andrew Glover at Yardbird Suite

Saturday night was a very busy time for me, but I had to swing by The Suite, to catch some of Andrew Glover. And to see some friends. Andrew is a prolific composer, and I was certain lots of the jazz locals would be out to hear what his music has to say. I had several people ask if I would be there during the week. It was definately 'the place for jazz' on March 1st.

Andrew on keys and guitar, was supported by John Taylor on bass, Thom Bennett on drums, Bruce Mohacsy on percussion and keys, and Wes Yaciuk on guitar. Bruce and Wes were working with Andrew the week before at Jeffrey's Cafe at the Rollanda Lee show. And Rollanda was in the audience enjoying the music. I enjoyed the music and the chance to hear Andrew play compositions. I remember feeling, that we were in the jazz zone.

Forward motion, Smooth, and Not So Smooth are the titles of three Andrew Glover CDs that were available at the door. Andrew's compositions are well known and have been performed by many other musicians - a true sign of respect.

I saw Andrew pick up a guitar, and expressed surprise to Rollanda - who replied 'He does much of his composing on guitar, and then transcribes to the piano.' I learn something every day. I'm so used to seeing him in a suppporting role on the piano, especially for local singers.

The Yardbird Suite is the right place for this music. Even with a full house, when a solo starts you can hear a pin drop. The stage is big enough to handle a crowd if necessary. And the sound is always superb. An excellent combination that makes the Yardbird a 'jazz club' for officianados, and a concert venue as well. If you really want to hear the music of Andrew, and others, find them at the Suite.

Photos Photos

Yardbird Suite website

all my Yardbird Suite photos

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Big Hank at the Blue Chair

Hank Leonhardt brought along some of the alumni of Tacoy Ride for a rocking blues night at the Chair. Hank's vocals and stage presence (on and off the stage) kept the audience going all night. He even took time out to deliver a personal 'Happy Birthday' to Kirby. There was cake and candles too....

Supported by Barrie Nighswander on guitar, Duane Smith on bass and Ken "Turk" Kirkwood also on guitar. I found it hard to believe there was no drummer - these guys certainly didn't need a drummer to rock the room. There was not really room to dance - but I sensed some of the audience was wishing for a dance floor. Certainly would have created some hassles for the waitresses (one of whom was dancing as she deliered the food and picked up dishes).

Hank and the boys seem to be ramping up - we may see more of them in the next few months. Watch for Big Hank.


Blue Chair website

Rubim, Chris and Tyler at Four Rooms

After a smoking performance by Bomba! at the Blue Chair, I was ready for some cool jazz at Four Rooms. Tyler Hornby was in town, drumming with Chris Andrew and Rubim de Toledo. Four Rooms cover charge is often only $5.00 - and although it can be hard to find a seat, there is usually room later in the evening. Four Rooms is also easy on the eyes. The light from the window often helps me to create some fantastic photos.

This configuration was the 'Rubim de Toledo Jazz Trio'. The truth is that all three of these guys can lead and play with the best. And they were laying down a smooth jazz groove together.


Tyler Hornby website
Chris Andrew website
Tyler Hornby website

ps. I was in Four Rooms for a few minutes the next night, when a young couple came in, looked quickly around, she quietly said 'I thought he'd be here.' She was looking for Tyler - not realizing that the Rubim Trio was Thursday and Friday - but not on Saturday night.

Monday, March 10, 2008

La Peña de Bomba! at the Blue Chair

La Peña, Mario explains is a party, or a gathering, usually musical. Bomba! is a latin group that often grows and shrinks to fit the stage, and accommodate the availability of different members. When Bomba! returned from Cuba, and brought back some friends, I think they had 8 musicians or maybe more. Harold's stage at the Blue Chair will only hold 4 comfortably. But, no matter how many members Bomba! brings to the show - they always bring a huge audience as well. La Peña de Bomba! was sold out. I'm glad I booked a table several days in advance.

La Peña de Bomba plans to visit the Blue Chair about once a month - and I would guess you will see variations in the membership. On Friday, Feb 29th we heard Mario Allende from Chile, Emilio Rios, Aldo Aguirre and Raul Gomez Tabera originally from Cuba. Bomba is split between Edmonton and Calgary, so the Blue Chair gigs give them a chance to get together as a group.

The music was Bomba! hot. Emilio sings with great passion. He even gave us a bit of a tune in Japanese - that he learned on tour. Even in Latino Japanese - he sings with great energy and emotion. Mario and Raulito on percussion - Bomba! has great rhythm. Aldo is one hot fiddler.

Watch for them again Friday, April 4th. You don't want to miss 'la peña'! Advance booking definitely recommended.

Blue Chair website
Bomba! website

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Kristilyn Robertson with Dave Martin at Hulberts

Kristilyn and Dave traded chairs for the evening, she on keys, he on guitar.

I've heard Kristilyn a few times around town. She has done some new work, and especially enjoyed her tune Breathe, the lead tune on her latest CD "The Bee Tree".

Dave Martin was in town for the teacher's convention, and paired up with Kristilyn Roberts for a show at Hulbert's on Feb 28th. As far as I can remember, I've only heard a few tunes from Dave at one of the open stages, so it was a treat to hear a bit more. I actually listened to, and enjoyed Bottles in 1 Bag (when I'm taking pictures, I sometmes don't hear much). But my favorite of the evening was a very dark tune about a man who went missing (except for his head) and a wife whose alibi seems to be that she was sleeping in the woods. Daves delivery and also his guitar, was very, very dark -- exactly suited to the song. I want to hear that one again.


Hulbert's website
Kristilyn's website
Dave's MySpace

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Drowning Ophelia at the Blue Chair Cafe

Drowning Ophelia consists of twin sisters, Candace and Karli. Candace on bass, Karli on guitar, and for some songs on keys -- and a drummer, Jared Bradley. They come to Edmonton from Saskatchewan and have studied music at GMCC - like many local musicians. I didn't talk, just listened -- maybe they are GMCC students at present.

I had not seen (or heard) them before I arrived at the Blue Chair. The website explains that they come from a family of musicians, with different styles. The music ranged from jazz, to country, to pop. Easy to listen. Interesting tunes and delivery.

Drowning Ophelia recently won a battle of the bands, and plan to release a CD in the spring - not too far away. Watch for it, watch for them, and you might be saying "I saw them long before they were so famous.'


Drowning Ophelia website

Blue Chair Cafe website

Tim Chesterton, Alex Boudreau and Carrie Hryniw at Blue Chair

Wednesdays at the Blue Chair Cafe often feature several singer songwriters. On February 27th we saw Tim Chesterton, Alex Boudreau and Carrie Hryniw.

The sound system at the Blue Chair has been upgraded over Christmas, and the sound board moved to the back. The result is better sound in the house. The Blue Chair may give you more insight into how music is made if you arrive for dinner - and the musicians arrive later. You get to watch, and hear the sound check.

The trio is an interesting superset: Tim often performs with Alex, and Alex often with Carrie. But they had never performed as a trio before. They were a well integrated group, trading tunes, and supporting each other on their own compositions. I also enjoyed 'Summertime' done by the trio. I'll always be a jazz fan -- especialy jazz vocals.

Tim brought along a copy of his new CD, and I got a chance to have a listen on the long drive back to St Albert. A mix of his own tunes, and many traditional tunes. Tim favour's traditional tunes that you might not hear anywere else, and does a good job on them.


Blue Chair website

all my Blue Chair Cafe photos

Saten's eggs match iSoul's energy at Hulbert's

Jill Pollock is a devil in she 'eps clothing. An innocent looking girl with a ukulele singing songs from Sampson to Saten. Later, iSoul takes over one entire side of the cafe, expanding the definition of 'open stage' considerably, with a six string bass, drums, percussion, keyboard, two guitars and a very energetic vocalist - 7 musicians in all. Friends invite friends, creating new groups, new music. Solo, duo, trio, ... septet?

Dave Martin is in town for the Teacher's convention, bringing his bottles in one bag, guitar in the other? Ron Taylor, who runs an open stage downtown on Tuesdays - drops in for a couple of tunes, to show off his new frames. Joe Nolan sings something new, and the crowd wants 'half asleep'. Jim Malmberg swings by from the back porch. It's Chris' birthday. It's Hulbert's Open Stage.

Hulbert's podcasts their open stage, so if you missed it, or if you can't remember and want to hear 'what did Ariane Lemire sing?', surf to: Hulbert's. It's happening every Sunday night, but don't worry if you to work on Monday - it always shuts down by 10:00 pm.

Rhea March runs this open stage, the most 'unique' in town. Because the music is Podcast, musicians must play their own tunes, and not break copyright regulations. The result is an open stage that is always breaking new ground. Every Sunday I seem to meet someone(s) I have never seen (heard) before.

Feb 24th featured more than 20 musicians including: Rhea March, Laurel McClure, Jon Lindley, Ron Taylor, Dave Martin, Robin Walters, Jill Pollock, Ariane Lemire, Phil Jones, Jim Malmberg, Robby, iSoul feat. Jody, Rick Garvin w/ Chad Clark, Joe Nolan, Pam Drover & Clint Drover w/ Megan Walsh. Rob Heath often arrives late and plays last. This time we got an extra - with Daryl Matthews' trademark pounding on his guitar body and neck.


all my Hulbert's Open Stage photos

Thursday, March 6, 2008

3 Different Heavens - at The Third Space

Northern Light Theatre's 'Third Space' can be a challenge to find. I do remember the last time I went there, I was late. So last night we left early, and got there in time for an Alley Kat Pale Ale and too much licorice. Tip: take 116 ave, also known as Princess Elizabeth Ave, and turn on 103 street. If you get to 104 street - you've gone too far. It's also an interesting building. Bar downstairs, theatre upstairs - probably not to accessible for handicapped (or heavy drinkers). The staff (volunteers?) were friendly and helpful. And the overall atmosphere on Wednesday 'pay what you can' night was very peaceful -- even though there were lots of people in attendance.

3 Different Heavens, by Nathan Cuckow, is a rich exploration into the lives of two women, who also alternate to the roles of each other's gay son. One of the families is Mormon, with very strict upbringing and 'gay fear'. The other is very liberal - probably more liberal than most of us encounter in or normal lives. The boys fall in love, and the mothers have to reconcile some of their differences, or 'agree to disagree' in order to be friends. I found the play interesting -- and it certainly got me thinking and both of us 'discussing' on the way home.

Coralie Cairns is an actress I have seen in many roles, and she always brings her trademark smile. Her role was quite spicy, an excellent casting choice. The play also forced her to be the flippant, free-wheeling divorcee - who was occasionally stopped in her tracks by the common sense, slow paced Mormon mom, played by Blair Wensley. It was fun to watch the interactions of two people who might not give the other 'the time of day' -- as they were forced together by the circumstances of thier love for their sons.

Part of Northern Light's mission (I'm trying to remember what was posted on the wall) to provide relevant theatre, and their goals for this season include explorations of religion, family, legality and sexuality. This was definately an exploration. As I left I wondered how they might get some Mormons to come and see it.

The play has so many twists and turns, some of them quite subtle, that the audience, myself included, was not sure if we were at the end.... There was a lot of emotion... and a bit of wonderment as the lights went down.

Northern Light Theatre

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Ralph Bowen at the Yardbird Suite Feb 23, 2008

The Edmonton Jazz Society often brings musicians from afar, and pairs them with Edmonton musicians - giving audiences a unique experience, and local musicians a chance to mix and practice their skills with new faces. This synergy brought us Ralph Bowen on sax, and Steve Kirby on bass. And matched them up with local Chris Andrew on piano and Sandro Dominelli on drums.

Ralph has appeared at the Suite before, with Free Trade. His sound has been defined as 'casual perfection'. I found to to be easy to relax, soak up the clear clean notes, and just chill. Steve Kirby has never been at the Suite before, and he impressed a lot of the locals. I heard a few say he was the hi-lite of the evening. On the other hand, experience tells me that, especially in jazz, we often de-value our locals, because we hear them often. Steve is also a working hard in the Winnipeg jazz scene and trying to get a club started. He has a day job (or two or three, like many musicains) and will need some assistance. We do wish him success in this venture.

Chris and Sandro are rock solid local jazz musicians. Chris is one of Edmonton's hardest workers 'at his music'. He never lets up and can always be counted on for an interesting, musically intelligent performance. Juno nominated Sandro Dominelli was in perfect, tasteful time as the quartet grooved into Saturday night. His energetic solo performances added some spice to the mix. I have been involved with the Suite for many years, and my experience is that mixed groups often do better on the Saturday than Friday. But there were more than a few audience members who came on Friday -- and were so impressed they returned on Saturday for more.

My Yardbird Suite photo galleries

Yardbird Suite website

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Rollanda Lee at Jeffrey's Cafe

Rollanda Lee must carry a party with her, wherever she goes. And she brings out the party in everyone there. As usual, there was a huge crowd, having a great time at Jeffrey's Cafe, with Rollanda in control.

She was backed by Wes Yaciuk on guitar, Bruce Mohacsy on bass and when was there - Charlie Austin on keys. Andrew Glover was offically on keyboard, but Charlie was giving him a chance to sip and listen.

Always remember that if Rollanda is singing she'll take any request for a tune. Just write your request on the back of a $20 dollar bill. Seriously, Rollanda is a seasoned performer with a huge repetoire of music. She can take you from Billie Holiday to Micheal Buble in a minute, with a laugh and a story to carry you thru the transition. Rollanda often works with a Dixieland group, this time it was more jazz and ballads. If you want to help make the world a better place (and more fun too) listen, clap, and sing along (but not too loud unless you know what you are doing) with Rollanda Lee.

Jeffrey's Cafe website

Expect the Unexpected: Mile Zero Dance Lost and Found

Darrin Hagin composed Christmas song, performed on the accordian; dance - poetry - and audience sound participation; a one man orchestra by Travis Boa; evocative and emotional portraits from Paul Freeman. Mix, match, weave, wander and wonder. Mile Zero Dance: Studio Series.

Mile Zero Dance's Studio series mixes visual arts with performance art to create a unique new performance. The studio is small - I don't think they can accomodate many more than 50 people. 'I saw something unique last night - that very few others have seen'. And a chance to meet many of Edmonton's cutting edge artists , discuss the works at hand, the state of the world, families and friends.

Lost and Found can hardly be described - you have to be there. For a taste of the event, check out the photos. or slideshows:

Darrin Hagen
Poetry, Dance and Audience Participation
Masked Memory
Looking for Ishtar
Travis Boa

Mile Zero Dance website

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Tim Harwill and Howlin' Dan at the Cyber Cafe

I think the Cyber Cafe on Jasper is actually licensed as a 'internet bar'. No minors sign on the door. I was invited by Leah Wilson, a friend and former house manager at the Yardbird Suite jazz club - to come see her artwork, and hear her partner sing. Funnily enough, I also received a mySpace invitation to hear Tim Harwill, same night, same place. The Cyber Cafe seems to be a well run musical establishment - even if the shape and size is a bit unorthodox.

Tim was setting up when I got there and I got a chance to visit with Leah and peruse some of the artworks produced by her, and by Dan. I'd describe Dan's work as eclectic to eccentric. Leah's paintings ranged from bright places to dark, possibly threating images - with predominantly heavy strokes. Not that I know much about art... and to tell you the truth I was too busy schmoozing to really look at every piece and check who it was created by.

I had only met Tim thru mySpace a few days before, and wondered why I hadn't seen him around town -- I do get around. Seems Tim has been doing lots of travelling musician gigs to support himself. Now maybe he'll relax and settle down. He's an accomplished performer, with some interesting covers. I also enjoyed his own tune about sitting in a hotel room, waiting for something to happen... Definately a country bent, but his own man.

Howlin' Dan (Dan Silakiewicz). I can see why he might choose a nickname, and it is an appropriate choice. His voice is loud and long, but certainly not unpleasant. Dan is clearly a man of many talents. Leah and Dan are touring - showing off their art and their music. I wish them happy trails.

Cyber Cafe gallery

Lynett at Hulbert's

The first time I met Lynett McKell was at Ron Taylor's Open Stage at the Second Cup downtown. She was with, and often performs with friend Laurel MacLure. I heard her many times and realized I had not actually listened to her 'float/boat' song -- because I was always taking pictures. Next time I saw them I deliberately stopped and listened. I knew the song had a beautiful sound - it has words and a story to match.

When I heard Lynett solo at the "8 for Peace" concert in February, I got to see and hear more of her powerful songwriting. Her music has a lot of emotion. Kudos to Hulbert's for giving her a show - definately a singer to watch out for. When I got there (late as usual) Laurel had just finished singing with her (maybe it was that beautiful 'boat/float' song?) and I got a chance to hear some more solo work.
Lynett and Laurel (and many others) at Second Cup, Sir Winston Churchill Square
Hulbert's website

Not ready to Change - Story Slam at the Blue Chair

The third Wednesday of the month, the Bunker Projects presents a storytelling competition at the Blue Chair Cafe - the Story Slam. Feb 20 was the 2nd anniversary of Story Slam. The place was packed - and a good slate of story tellers, some old friends and some new faces.

Storytellers get 5 minutes - with a 5 second grace period. This time, I think the first three storys went overtime. You never know what to expect from the stories - or from the hosts. Except that Lisa will sing (unless she is telling a tale).

Stories are rated by the audience, which always results in some curious scoring and I'm sure many of the authors have their own theories about what might 'win'. Audience donations to the pot generally run between 250 and 350 dollars - and it all goes to the top story. There is no 'second place'.

Roxanne Felix has told many magical stories. Once I thought she had the prize stolen from her at the last minute. This evening she took it all, with an interesting tale about a woman 'not ready for a new perfume'. Amazing how such a simple concept can be developed into a complex story. Tyler Enfield told a magical tale of a couple (of birds if I remember correctly) who lost and then found each other. Jadon Rempel was at the top for a while with a story slam classic - tell a story about yourself, throw in a few raunchy references.

Susan Hagan hosted, but with Sam (her new baby) in hand, had a tag team support from Lisa, who promised, and then eventually did "I'm so glad we had this time together."

The skys put on a show as well - and slammers and audience members constantly wandered out to take a peek at the slow progress of the lunar eclipse.

Story Slam starts at 8, but you need to be there at 7 to sign up to tell a story, and earlier if you want to get dinner and a good seat. Be prepared to get into the act as an audience judge if you don't have a story to tell.

All my Story Slam photos
Blue Chair Cafe website