Sunday, April 27, 2008

Kits on 16th in Calgary

I was down in Calgary to photograph the CKUA Blues Bash, and had a bit of time to visit Kit's on 16th. It was my first visit, having seen quite a bit on Facebook and other media. Saturday afternoon, Kit's hosts a Blues Jam. Be warned. This jam is not for the meek. It's more for 'those who drank too much on Friday night, and need to waste away a Saturday afternoon, getting ready to drink to much on Saturday night'. It is loud. The quality was good, once I got my earplugs in place. Conversation was at a minimum - even during breaks, because the place is noisy and the background music was, well, not background music.

So if you are looking for blues on a Saturday afternoon - this is exactly the place for you! Bill Dowey looks after the jam, starts around 3:00 if I remember correctly, and goes until later. It was crowded when I arrived, but I was told it got busy later.

The weather was fantastic, so there were lots of smokers out front enjoying the music and the sunshine. A steady flow in and out.

I ran into Cindy Mcleod at the CKUA Blues Dance party in Bowness - and she told me that the Jazz Jam on Thursdays is downstairs -- I have to get down to Calgary in mid-week to catch that show. Maybe next month.


2008_04_11 Morgan Davis at the Blue Chair

I only managed to catch a few tunes from Morgan Davis on this visit. Having seen his performance from almost exactly a year before - I knew what to expect. His extensive discography, and a few samples can be found on his web pages at Morgan Davis website.

Intelligent, hot and cool blues. Morgan Davis is one of those performers who can captivate an entire audience, all by himself.

Morgan Davis at the Blue Chair in 2007

The Edmonton Recorder Orchestra at St. Andrew's United Church

Churches are always wonderful places to listen to music. When Monica Chattaway said the Edmonton Recorder Orchestra was performing The Cries of London: Music from the Time of Shakespeare, I knew I had to be there to hear, and to see. When you put the a recorder orchestra in a church, in costumes from the 1600s, you step back in time.

The entire Recorder Orchestra dressed the part, in costumes of the period. A well lit church, with sunlight streaming in from the outside - transported us back in time.

The performance started with readings from Shakespeare by Edmonton's Poet Laureate, E. D. Blodgett. Then music by the recorder orchestra, including a short series of dances. It ended with 'Cries of London'. The orchestra playing, while members called out sounds of the streets and markets of London.

I was transported back in time. The music was beautiful and the performance flawless. I always enjoy hearing and seeing reminders that the past, even hundreds of years ago, is still with us today. Real people, real music, and a minimum of modern technology (my digital camera excluded).


2008_04_05 Strathcona Farmer's Market Musicians

Even though we've move to St Albert, we still find ourselves drifting back to the Strathcona Market on Saturday - Marcia for the fresh, organic foods - and me for the music.

The Strathcona Farmer's Market runs all year, although fresh foods can be a bit scarce in mid-winter. There's always music, and often other performance crafts - face painting, balloon making, etc.

Spring and winter have been having a tug-of-war in Edmonton over the past 6 weeks or so. As I drove by the market yesterday, I saw the bagpiper was enjoying the spring weather. When I visited on April 5, he was standing in snow. Chad, who was inside the market with his accordian, was enjoying the sunshine near the doorway.

more Strathcona Farmer's Market Photos

Monday, April 21, 2008

2008_04_21 Christmas with the Searchers at Festival Place

Marcia bought me tickets to the Searchers for Christmas - little did I know it would be a 'White Christmas' show. Passed several 'car accident leftovers' on the drive there, skidded past two turns in the snow. But we arrived, and home, safely. I didn't take my camera inside, so no photos. Sometimes, I like to just listen to the music.

I'd say the Searchers have been performing together for a while, although the 'new guy' drummer is only with the band for the past 10 years. Excellent stage show. Classic music. And a lot of music history.

Any history of music comes with a viewpoint - in this case, the viewpoint was the stories of the Searchers as they came to be a group, made some hits, and continue to make music today. There were lots of great tunes, including Ian Tyson's 'Four Strong Winds', which they recorded 'decades ago'. Lots of audience participation, in many ways, from singing, to waving to 'take as many flash pictures as you like -- makes us feel good'.

Of course the did Love Potion Number Nine, Sugar and Spice, Sweets for my Sweet and Needles and Pins. But also did tunes by Roy Orbison, Del Shannon and others. Old songs and new.

We bought tickets to a number of shows at Festival Place before moving to St Albert last fall - and it is still worth the drive. Friendly theatre - you can take your drinks to your seat. Sweets on sale if you rushed away from dinner to arrive at a 7:30 show.

Summer is coming - check out their patio series. I attended a few last summer and learned to get tickets early. Apparently a lot of people like to listen to music outside by the lake, while having a barbeque. It's on Wednesdays, so you can arrive early and check out the Farmer's market before the show starts.

Festival Place photos
Festival Place website

2008_04_04 Peña de Bomba! returns to Blue Chair

On Friday, I talked to a co-worker about Peña de Bomba! at Blue Chair. She expressed interest in seeing the show - I advised her that it was probably sold out and she should phone ahead. Sold out? Sold mid-week. There were 30 people on the 'wait list' when I arrived for dinner. I booked several days in advance, and as I ate my dinner a constant stream of people tried to get a table at the Blue Chair - to no avail.

At the first Peña de Bomba! we had a small group of musicians. Tonight? Six band members from Edmonton an Calgary. Harold's stage only holds 5 - even that is tight. Chris Andrew, who was recently awarded the CBC Galaxy Rising Star award, had to perform on the side of the stage.

Pena is described by Mario as a 'party', 'gathering', with music. This was the second Peña de Bomba! at the Blue Chair -- and the word is out. Harold announced that the 'silence' signs were hidden away for this show, and everyone was encouraged to have a good time. We all had a good time, and great music.

Bomba! heads off on a European tour. April 22 at the 100 Club in London. Next Pena Bomba at the Blue Chair is May 31. Call now!


Friday, April 18, 2008

2008_03_30 Hulbert's Rocks

Rhea borrowed Robin Hunter's guitar to open with homemade apple pie - a la mode. Robin Hunter, featured artist, accompanied by John (Woody) Woroschuk, were up next with a beautiful woman and a drunk limo, and took us all the way to Route 66.

Rhea had advised me that a Armediate (a gift from God) would be rocking Hulbert's Open Stage on March 30th. Dallas 'God' Robinson, on guitar, hair and vocals, Byron Mayer on drums and Aaron Storr on guitar and vocals -- add up the ages of all three, still younger than me. But a lot more musical than I am. The place was rocking. Lots of friends and family were along to see their debut. They definitely have an energy, and a musically unique sound.

Then followed a long list of well known local musicians, and some new faces. Ariane Lemire gave us a French and English preview of her upcoming show. And promised to do something in Spanish soon. We had two ukulele performers in a row - Beth Portman gave us some scat - longing for your lovin. Jill'ah up next with her Gorill'ah (Jill Pollock- woke up Monday morning with the devil in her bed). Jaybird gave us all an Orange Balloon - "I love you orange balloon". Ariane Lemire gave us the sultry tune about liquorice and ashes. Newcomers: Mike searching for his mind - says he enjoyed losing it -- his second visit I think. Then Carla Guenette - her first performance at Hulbert's - gave us an her cappella tune about the best part of a relationship. The part 'before' you know each other. A beautiful tune, reminiscent of some Broadway show tunes. I love hearing new voices. Ray Johnston, hmmm.. another first time performer. Lots of energy. Tunes about change, and destiny. Then Rob Heath cooled us down and closed out the evening with ‘every silver lining has a cloud’. What a night.

I had to slip out for a few minutes - and missed hearing several performers. Rhea's stage is sooo busy, blink and you missed something. Hulbert's is the best place to be on Sunday night. Starts about 7:30, and finishes promptly at 10:00 pm. You will wonder where the time went.


Hulbert's website

2008_03_30 Sunday Afternoon at Newcastle Pub

Every Sunday afternoon (about 3:30, plenty of time to get there after church) the weekend relaxes at Newcastle Pub. When I came in, Glenn Eilers was doing "Suzanne". He was encouraged to give us a couple more tunes while the next group was selected.

Newcastle Pub's open stage is run by David "Crawdad" Canterra and Bill "Willie" Engel. It has a country/blues musical flavour - but you never know who might show up, or what they might play. Actually, you never know what Willie might play in the introductory set - he seems to have a huge repetoire of songs. I have seen lots of rock and pop -- although never any jazz or hip-hop. It's music that Kokanee drinkers can relate to.

Glenn was replaced by a 5 person group, with harmonica, drums, guitar, bass and vocals, consisting of Crawdad on vocals and harmonica, Kelly Kipula - drums, John Peterson, Johnny Hewitt and Shane Lazarowich. If you want a lazy musical Sunday afternoon, drop by the Newcastle pub. Or, if you're a musician looking to exercise your axe - come on down and talk to Willie.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

2008_03_30 Top Secret: Ann Vriend at Yardbird

Ann Vriend's top secret release of When We Were Spies was sold out long before show date. This was a 'private booking', not shown in the Yardbird Suite program, but Ann's fans had no problems finding the show. The Yardbird Suite was an excellent venue for this latest release from Ann. She emerged from the darkness in trenchcoat and sunglasses to join her 'secret agents' on bass, guitar, drums and keys. Spies in the dark. I suspect they had a hard time seeing - the Yardbird is a very dimly lit venue.

Ann's latest CD has received rave reviews. Secret Agent Ann gave a visual, as well as a powerful musical performance, much enjoyed by the packed house. Her unique voice cuts thru the crowd noise. Complex lyrics beg another listen. At first, her music might sound like the latest 'pop sound', but you soon realize she creates an 'ann vriend zone' when she gives a concert. No-one else sounds like Ann Vriend.

Ann Vriend website


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

2008_04_15 Memeza Africa at CBC Centre Stage

The place was packed! Sometimes the shows at CBC Centre stage are attended 'as people walk by at lunch'. But not today. I arrived shortly after 12 noon - and could hardly see the 'stage'. Memeza Africa wore colourful costumes, performed energetic dances, and sang beautiful, moving music accompanied by drum beats and gum boots.

Holly Wright joined in, adding a 'western dimension' to the music. She also gave explanations of how she met the musicians, the work they did together in Africa and how the came to be in Canada.

Memeza Africa is performing on Thursday at the Royal Alberta Museum, in support of Edzimkulu - althought we were told there were very few tickets left. I can see why.

CBC Centre stage is downtown in Edmonton Centre. The 'stage' is just outside of the CBC offices, and seating is installed for the crowd whenever there is a show. It's always a bit loose, generally a lunchtime presentation. And you usually have to listen to CBC in the morning to know if anything is happening, but you can find a schedule at:

CBC Centre Stage

Memeza Africa website
Edzimkulu website

photos of Memaza Africa with Holly Wright at CBC Centre Stage SLIDESHOW

Saturday, April 12, 2008

2008_04_11 Dee Daniels with Chris Andrew Trio at the Yardbird Suite

Dee Daniels is my kind of singer. I love singers, and jazz -- and I especially enjoy singers who create new material from old. Dee Daniels first set ranged from the Everly Brothers to James Taylor - all with a distinct Jazz style. The second set showed off her foundation in the 'standards'.

Dee also has an engaging stage presense, teasing the audience with questions and answers. Teasing the musicians about their age (youth), while complimenting them on their abilities and performance. This enriched the show, and kept our attention on the stage. Chris Andrew on keys, Mike Lent on bass and Sandro Dominelli on drums put up a solid foundation for Dee's vocal and verbal performance.

The Yardbird Suite is a jazz club, and a concert venue. Volunteer run, self serve bar, shared tables (you can't reserve a table). It is a club - membership is encouraged to support Jazz in our city. It has provided the many flavours of jazz to edmonton audiences for over 50 years.

Before I left, I bought up a CD, got it autographed and enjoyed more Dee Daniels all the way home to St Albert. It's Dee's first time in Edmonton. You can catch her again this evening. Do it.


Yardbird Suite website

Friday, April 11, 2008

2008_04_11 Ki: Mile Zero Dance

Gerry Morita and Mile Zero Dance can always be counted on to deliver something unique. Theresa Dextrase and Eryn Kelsey Annett Tempest add substance and movement, Eva Colmers add shadows and texture. If you are looking for an artistic, thought provoking evening, be sure to catch Ki.

Ki, by Mile Zero Dance, has been evolving for many months. A preview was shown at Mile Zero’s Studio series in February. It is always fun to watch a performance evolve. Ki opened last night at the Arts Barns. It is clearly a work of many people – with sound, lighting, dance and shadows created by projection – combining to create a thought provoking piece.

I was surprised at the number of ideas and feelings that came to me as I watched the performance. Ki is Japanese for ‘tree’. I found myself watching trees evolve, grow, wave and flow. They became tools, toys, and lastly a shelter. Eva Colmers reminds me that in art, different people see different things. Ki is a discussion piece.

Ki is also huge. The set is large, often dwarfing the dancers. In some cases the shadow techniques increase the size of the performers. In other sections, the performance shrinks to a small, private part of the set.
The interplay of shadows and dancers creates some very interesting situations of postural echo. A dancer behind the screen casts a shadow, which becomes part of the scene where a another dancer is in front of the screen. Projection images add to the texture.

Press Preview photos SLIDESHOW

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mayor's Celebration of the Arts - Winspear Centre

Photo: Red Power Squad
Last night I attended the Mayor's Celebration of the Arts (without my camera, for a change).

What a show! I know many of the performers, nominees and award winners from past performances. It was fantastic to see them in the Winspear - where everyone seems to shine.

Kita No Taiko drummers. Of course the sound was great. The 'huge drum' made such an noise that it sometimes seemed to sound twice from a single stroke. The Kita No Taiko drummers are very visual - bright red costumes, lots of movement. And the sound! The Winspear is a great place for a sound like that.

Edmonton Opera's Renee Brad sang a few tunes. I could not see clearly, but it appeared she was not wearing a mike - no problem hearing her at the back. Amazing voice. Beautiful music.

Red Power Squad - I have caught their show a couple of times. As Peter Brown said 'no-one can follow that, we need to have an intermission. Hot music. Hi energy hip-hop. Astonishing moves, twists spins, and a message. Angela Gladeu later received the award for Emerging Artist - I was rooting for her.

After the intermission, Brian Web Dance. Sheri Somerville sang "The Ballad Of The Sad Young Men", while Brian danced the sad man. Quite a dramatic change from Red Power Squad - with some similar movements - in very slow motion. Sherri is a local diva, actress and it was a pleasure to see her singing and echoing the dance performance in movement and song.

Samantha Schultz gave us two of her songs. I think I first heard Sam in April 2005. She is still only 17 years old, but she has clearly gained a wealth of experience. I was pleased to hear some new arrangements of familiar tunes. Her voice and performances continue improve. You can catch Samantha at the Citadel Theatre on April 11th, at the closing ceremonies of the Night of Artists festival on April 27th, and the Edmonton Folk Music festival this summer, and ... and... Sam is one busy performer -- when does she find time for school?

Next, Teatro La Quindicina gave three small skits, green peppers, golf and soup. Even Davina Steward had problems keeping straight faces in the middle of 'soup', as Jeff Haslam's ‘Hello, I am your waiter” started with ‘chicken and rice’ and drifted agonizingly slowly, indirectly, from ‘being a waiter keeps me out of trouble’ to confessing casually that he had killed someone and maybe he should have been arrested, before circling back to the recommended 'soup of the day'.
Theatro is always a delight, and I am certain the audience was tickled by their off-the wall humour.

And Le Fuzz (that's French for 'the fuzz', Peter Brown said quietly) closed the show with tunes in French, Russian, Spanish, and a bit of English. The audience was invited up to the stage to dance, and didn’t need encouraging. Stephen Mandel joined in, and was soon line dancing in a huge snake that rocked the stage.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Dana Wylie CD Release at Velvet Underground

Long before Dana invited me to her CD release at the Velvet Underground, I had heard Mike Sadava raving about how good it is -- so I had to be there. Dana is in town for a show at the Mayfield, so we may get a few opportunities to listen to her over the next couple of months.

Most of the songs on the CD are by Dana - and she has a very interesting musical sense. Her performance partner, Jeremy Hellard is from England, and brings some traditional english tunes and sounds to their performance. Dana and Jeremy were joined by Cam Neufeld, Mike Sadava (hmmm...), Jason Kodie, Matthew Ord (one of those amazing musicians that is moving to? or passing thru, possibly because of the oil boom). The CD also features Scott Cook.

I first encountered Dana as an actress, and many years ago I saw her perform a Fringe play based on Edith Piaf. Funnily enough, one member of the Velvet Underground audience described Dana as a little sparrow - a small bird with a huge voice, a phrase used to describe Edith Piaf.

The Velvet Underground is, well... underground. More to the point, it is under the Starlight Room. And the booming base from above definately rocked the foundation at times. The service was friendly and the room is well suited to late night listening, with public tables in front of the stage, and more private booths on the side. This was my first time in the Velvet Underground.

The first set also featured some work by Matthew Ord, an amazing guitarist. Not sure how Dana linked up with him.

Musicians moved on and off the crowded stage throughout the show, giving us a variety of physical, as well as musical arrangements. I spent some time listening to the CD on Sunday and enjoyed it a lot. I need to put it in the car and let it run around a few times - that's how I get really familiar with an artist.

Dana Wylie photos

Saturday, April 5, 2008

2008/03/29 Fistfull of Blues at Norwood Legion

Fistfull of Blues, and Hot Cottage packed the Norwood legion so full they had to move an extra few tables into the dance floor. There was still room to dance, and dance we did! The Legion provided excellent food, and somebody even brought aa birthday cake.

Hot Cottage did the first set, then Fistfull of Blues with Hank Lionhart, the Hot Cottage,and back to Fistfull of Blues again. It was a late night and a lot of fun. The place was packed -- and the dance floor was busy.

Hot Cottage photos SLIDESHOW

Fistfull of Blues photos SLIDESHOW

Thursday, April 3, 2008

2008/04/03 my name is Rachel Corrie at Catalyst Theatre

Rachel Corrie has nightmares of falling. In her youth, she fears she will fall and crash. As she grows older, she falls and falls, determined to survive. In life, she falls, possibly unseen, and is crushed by a bulldozer. Rachel Corrie was a complex, driven person, who wanted to change the world. Thruough the play - she may be having a wider, although less direct, effect than the efforts during her lifetime.

Theatre Yes presents Rachel Corrie at Catalyst. Performed by Lora Brovold, directed by Heather Inglis, "my name is Rachel Corrie" is long and intense. Lora's performance was so physical that at times I was worried she would hurt herself on stage. And so complex, mental, philosophical, that I was astonished she didn't lose her way. Maybe she did - who would know? The set was simple and barren, like the desert. A smooth integration of sound, lighting and multi-media enriched the performance.

I was in Israel and travelled from Jerusalem to Cairo in 1984. This play reminded me of how hot, and desolate it can be, and how friendly the people were. And how long and slow a 'border crossing' can be for a wealthy person, by local standards, wiht a Canadian passport. I was so caught up in Rachel Corrie, that I wanted to talk to her about my experiences -- but realized this was Lora, an actress, who transported me back in time and across oceans of space.

This is a play for people who think and want to think more. No musical comedy here. No intermission - but I didn't want an intermission. There was no natural break, no logical point to send the audience out for drinks and socializing - we all know the ending, just not how it will be delivered. There are opportunities to discuss and learn at sessions before the play and on this upcoming weekend.

I have seen many performances at the Catalyst and it is always a friendly place. It looks a bit strange from the outside, like a big cave. Once you are inside, it is warm and friendly. The stage is small. The front row, where I sat, is almost 'on the stage'. As an audience member, you are 'right there'.

Theatre Yes website
Theatre Yes - my Name is Rachel Corrie' page

Rachel Corrie Catalyst Theatre page

Catalyst Theatre website