Heather G’s Jam #2

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: Heather G’s Jam, co-hosted by Dave Prinn and Heather Gemmell at Ric’s Lounge in the Prestige Hotel in Cranbrook, November 9, 2012, 7-11pm.

Location isn’t everything but it is certainly a step in the right direction. Ever since Finnegans Wake closed down local musicians have been bereft of a place to informally perform. Bj’s Creekside Pub is still very much on the scene but that is in Kimberley. The management of Ric’s lounge has stepped up to the plate with a live music policy that, if the two first Heather G jam session are any indication, seem destined for success. If so it will be well deserved. The location is perfectly obvious, accessible, well appointed, lots of parking, pleasant staff and good food. Add in some opportune timing (once a month, 7-9 pm) and a huge reservoir of local talent then it looks like we are in for some good times. On this particular night Dave Prinn and Heather Gemmell kicked off the evening with a great duo of their speciality – rocky / blues with lots of musical interplay. That was just the beginning of an evening filled with music by Sheva (Shelagh and Van Redecopp), Sharon Routley, Rick Marasco and Rod Wilson, James Neve, Mark Casey and Jon Bissett. But undoubtedly the stars of the evening were the ladies of the all female Blue Grass band PIXS AND STIXS (Cosima Wells, Paige Lennox, Janice Nicili, Shelagh Gunn and Heather Gemmell). This was only the second live performance by the band and although handicapped by some technical sound problems and the absence of their mandolin player (Shauna Plant) they proceeded to delight a packed house. At one stage people were lining up at the door. Here are some images from the evening:

                                    So, thanks to Heather Gemmell and Brian Noer for a great idea. Thanks to the management and staff of Ric’s for the venue. Thanks to the musicians and patrons for a wonderful evening and last, but not least thanks to Dave Prinn for his superb organizational skills and the masses of sound equipment he managed for the evening.

Heather G’s Jam #3 will be held On Friday January 4th, 2013 7-11 pm.



National Steel Blues Emergency Tour


Doc Maclean and Morgan Davis: The National Steel Blues Emergency Tour at Centre 64, Monday October 29th, 2012, 8pm.

The days of the classic blues performers and race recordings of the 1930’s  are long, long gone. Even the days of folk/blues renaissance of the 1960s are fading into the mists of time. That was the last opportunity for a younger generation to touch bases with and be inspired by the likes of Mississippi John Hurt and the Rev. Garry Davis. Blues promoters of that era managed to find a few long retired classic blues musicians and coax them back into the public limelight for largely white college kids. The blues lessons from these old performers was taken to heart and basically it ignited and rejuvenated a blues scene that spilled over into the British rock scene and changed the face of popular music. What came about was not exactly blues in the old country tradition of the rural south. It had moved up town, discovered electricity and was brash and loud. Never-the-less it created an atmosphere where blues of every shade and persuasion continued to survive. Doc Maclean and Morgan Davis are among a number of performers who didn’t move up town but rather stayed true to the country traditions. Of  course nothing ever stays exactly the same. Doc and Morgan both use electricity and amplification but in a manner that is a far cry from the “enormodome” theatrics of huge arena shows. They are probably two of a hand full of musicians who can actually reach back to the authentic musical experiences of the bye gone classic blues. The classic tradition was about blues but it also incorporated gospel, ragtime, novelty tunes and an abundance of stories.   Folk musicians in every tradition are essentially story tellers. Saturday night’s performance was a skillful weaving of songs, humor and stories into a spell binding traditional tapestry that links us to a long gone era. The tools of their trade were some pretty old guitars (an old old Stella and a National Steel), blues harp, washboard, a three stringed cigar box guitar with an incredible sound (tuned A E A) and a couple of old off the shelf electric guitars. Doc’s slide of choice was a 11/16 inch Mastercraft Socket Wrench, Morgan was more inclined to use a 5/8 inch. So there was lots of finger picking, slide, subtle percussion, blues harp and a plethora of songs from all across the rural south. Songs included, Robert Johnson’ “When You Got a Good Friend”, Sleepy John Eastes’ “Going Down to Brownsville”, the classic “Stagger Lee”, the novelty song “Cats” (“dogs have people, cats have staff”), Sonny Terry and Brownie Magee’s “Come on if you’re Coming”, the gospel song “I will meet you on the Other Shore”, Jelly Roll Blues” and “Reefer Smoking Man”. Interspersed with the songs was some marvelous stage patter. Even the sales promotion of their CDs received a round of applause. Here are some images from the evening:


The Kimberley Centre 64 engagement is about two thirds the way through a 60 show tour that started out in Quebec City on September 5, 2012. The tour  crisscrosses back and forth across the country to finish in Winnipeg on November 16, 2012. That is a grueling schedule of almost back to back shows and despite the pressure the musicians appeared to be relaxed and in full command of the stage. It was an excellent show and it had what I always appreciate in a performance, music that had room to breathe. There was lots of space in the music.There was no helter/skelter on this stage. If the opportunity presents itself go see these two master blues players.


Home Grown at 30

Home Grown Music Society Coffee House: Centre 64, Saturday October 27, 2012, 8pm

It has been said before – time flies when you are having fun. This is the thirtieth season of the Home Grown Coffee Houses and once again, along with seasoned performers,  new talent seem to have come out of the woodwork to enhance the local music scene. The Green room was crammed with eighteen talented musicians ready to go on stage.


A fresh season and a fresh configuration of some well known local musicians, in what will be a first for the coffee house, an all female Blue Grass band. I hesitate to to call  PIX AND STIX a  “girl band” because they are nothing like their gender opposite “a boy band”. Most of these ladies are fresh from this summer’s Blue Grass camp and they were anxious to strut their stuff. This very strong vocal ensemble included Paige Lennox on banjo (a new banjo at that), Shelagh Redecopp on fiddle, Heather Gemmell on guitar and her first outing playing dobro, Shauna Plant on mandolin, Janice Nicli on bass and Cosima Wells on guitar. All the ladies did heavy duty on vocals as well. After listening to their renditions of ‘Bury Me beneath the Weeping Willow Tree’ and ‘Long Gone’ I suspect Cosima Well’s musical direction had a lot do with the harmonies within the band. Interspersed with the vocals were instrumental breaks on banjo, fiddle, bass, dobro and mandolin. The ladies have only been together musically for a couple of weeks  and this is sure to be the beginning of new, and hopefully, ongoing musical experience for local audiences.


Originally from Nelson, Darren Welch has more recently returned from “the centre of the universe” (Smithers, BC). Both Darren and I both met our wives in Smithers so, naturally, it is the centre of our universes.  Darren treated the audience to three original songs,‘Pretty Wild’, ‘Great Divide’ and ‘Sunshine’ that were colored by his northern experiences. They all featured good vocals with some nice controlled dynamic shadings in his guitar accompaniments. Doug Mitchell is no stranger to Homegrown audieces. Under different circumstances I suspect Doug is out to aggravate his audience and get them to think about the issues. ‘Keep Jumbo Free’ (“who needs a summer place to ski”) was, naturally, playing to the converted. His spoof on the health life style benefits of Coca Cola and musical comments on the Enbridge pipeline proposal all hit very responsive chords. Liz Dowling had a transport malfunction (her car broke down) that stranded her in Marysville some eight years ago and she has not come up with a good enough reason to want to leave.  She is originally from the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia and, naturally, folk music runs in her veins. She re-visited the folk music of a bygone era, threw in a Merle Haggard tune and finished off her set with Bob Dylan’s ‘Farewell Angelina’. Thank god for cars that break down in the most opportune and appropriate places.  Rob Young and James Neve are two core members of the folk/rock band 60 Hertz. Rob plays lead guitar and James sings and plays a very choice Larrivee acoustic guitar. James and the band are noted for the number and quality of original songs that make up their repertoire.  In a slight step away from 60 Hertz Rob and James were joined by Tristan Neve on a very original percussion set up that included a Cajon used as a kick drum. The Cajon is a small wood box drum originally from Peru. It has found its way                firstly into Flamenco music and now into the musical mainstream. Tristan uses the Cajon as a kick drum and along with a snare drum, cymbal and Irish Bodhran he has managed to come up with a small kit that pretty well covers all the territory normal associated with a standard drum kit. His use  of brushes on the Bodhran is very original. As always, it was another opportunity for the audience to touch bases with some of James Neve’s newer material that included ‘Take the Wheel’, ‘Safe to Sail’ and ‘Come Back’      John Gerlitz  is one of a number of musicians proudly stuck in the past. For John it is the old-time music of the blues masters and practitioners of that style  that he finds especially attractive. He proved this with his renditions of Jessie Colin Young’s ‘Sugar Babe’, Bessie Smith’s 1925 hitYou’ve been a Good Ol’ Wagon but now you’ve done broke down’, and the ever popular “Deep River Blues’.  Dave Carlson  insists that bluegrass songs are sad songs that always sound happy. I’m not so sure about that particularly after Dave and Carol Fergus chose to focus on economically devastated communities in such songs as ‘Last Train from Poor Valley’ and Si Kahn’s ‘Aragon Mill’. Never-the-less the songs were especially fine songs complemented by Carol’s stand-up electric bass and Dave’s nice clean picking on his beat up old Martin guitar. The last act of the evening was a nameless band in full Halloween regalia. The band included Leslie Pink on vocals and guitar, Mike Kennedy on blues harp and the young Jeff Curren  on congas and percussion. The shading of the material was definitely bluesy with a little rock kick to move the night to a grand finale. That’s an apt description for their treatment of  ‘Tied to the Whipping Post’, ‘On the Road Again’ and ‘The House of the Rising Sun’.





Until the next Home Grown Coffee House on Saturday December 1, 2012 that’s it folks.Thanks go to the many volunteers that make the evening possible and thanks to the MC Bud Decosse, Ray on sound and Terry on lights.


Karl Schwonik Jazz Ensemble

JAZZ: THE REAL DEAL The Karl Schwonik Jazz Ensemble with the Selkirk Jazz Choir and The Jazz Council at Kimberley United Church, Kimberley BC, Ocotber 19, 2012 7:30pm.

Jazz concerts used to be a rare event in this area but thanks to the activities of The Jazz Council, The Little Jazz Orchestra and The Notables Big Band the sounds of live jazz are becoming more frequent. Thanks to the efforts of the Jazz Council and the Canada Council for the Arts a visit by Karl Schwonick`s Jazz Ensemble during their recent Western Canada mini-tour (Dawson City, Whitehorse, Vancouver Island, Cranbrook and Calgary) added some additional spritely sounds to this area`s jazz palette.

Friday night’s concert was kicked off with a couple of selections by the charming young ladies of The Selkirk Jazz Choir. For those of us old enough to remember they ignited the nostalgia neurons with their rendition of Henry Mancini’s 1969 hit from the movie ‘The Pink Panther’ – you know the one “da dum, da dum, da dum ba dum ba dum” … or something like that. They were accompanied by some deft two finger  piano work by Laurel Ralston. Their second selection was the somewhat un-jazzy, but never-the-less excellent, anthem ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen.

The Jazz Council (Laurel Ralston – trumpet and Fleugelhorn; Sven Heyde – drums; Bernie Primbs – baritone sax; Stu Driedger – bass and Geoff Haynes – piano, keyboard) opened their set with Bernie’s love song to his then intended wife, ‘Quieres Casarte Conmigo’. They followed that up with Laurel Ralston’s new composition entitled ‘Broken Drill Bit Blues’. With one of his original compositions entitled ‘Rainy Night Caper’ Joel Kroeker, the former bass player with the band, initiated a Jazz Council tradition of “creepy Jazz”. The current band is more than happy (?) to continue the tradition with an original composition called  ‘On the Prowl’. Fittingly, Sven Heyde provided some really nice brush work on his soft ballad ‘Carrie’. The final tune was Bernie’s funky stomp ‘Everybody Could Use a Minor Funk’ that featured some rollicking organ riffs from Geoff Haynes.

The featured band of the evening was the Karl Schwonik Jazz Ensemble. And Karl, as described on his website  “…. is a drummer who grew up on a farm near Gwynne, Alberta where he was exposed to countless musical situations ranging from polka to jazz. Fresh out of high school, Schwonik embarked on a tour with 2-time Canadian Country Music Award Nominee Heather-Dawn”. From then on Karl has accumulated an impressive set of credentials including studies at the Banff Centre (the youngest participant in their residency program). He has had a busy touring schedule with over 20 tours as a leader.    His third of four recordings on Chronograph Records, 1+4, was #1 on Canadian jazz radio charts for nearly 2 months. Both 1+4 and Schwonik’s first album, Visions From the Farm, was nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award for ‘Jazz Recording of the Year’. The list of his accomplishments and involvement with the music scene goes on and on. For this tour he has surrounded himself with a crew of mostly young musicians from near and far.  James Davis on trumpet hails originally from Texas and is a graduate of the North Texas State Jazz Program. He is now a resident of  Chicago. Bryan Qu is a very young (19 years old) tenor sax player from Calgary who is currently studying with Canadian sax giant Mike Murley while going to school in Toronto. Keyboard player Chris Andrew, originally from Campbell River,  also holds down the “oldest guy in the band chair”. Bass player and band van driver Kodi Hutchinson is a well known player on the Calgary scene. In his spare time Kodi is also the President of Chronograph Records.  For the concert Karl moved the band down from the altar area onto the church floor. It was a good move that improved the sight lines for the audience  and help create a more intimate ambience. From the first syncopated hand clap of ‘Off the Shores’ this band served notice that the audience was in for a night of exceptional jazz. This first composition by Karl Schwonik was a rhythmic juggernaut of hand clapping, hand beaten drum kit and percussive effects (including trumpet valve rattles). Nearly all the pieces played during the evening, including “Escape” by Karl were original compositions. James Davis contributed an outstanding anthem entitled “Cotton”  that was dedicated to his dad and a familiar  area of Texas. A tune that must be causing a royalty nightmare is the piece that drew inspiration and melodic motifs from the TV advertisements  for Wetaskiwin car dealers (“cars cost less in Wetaskiwin”)  and Duke Ellinton’s  ‘Take the A Train’. The only two non-original compositions on the program were Thelonious Monk’s ‘Blue Monk’    and Denzil Best’s jazz standard from 1937 called ‘Wee’. This last tune show cased the tenor sax talents of Bryan Qu and was a fitting end to night of jazz by a band that has been described as one of the best bands on the Canadian scene.

The poor light in the Church made it difficult to get really first class photos. Never-the-less here are some images from the evening.

                                 For this great concert thanks should be given to the organizers for their hard work and also to the Canada Council for the Arts that made it possible for the band to do this tour.



LOCALS at 21

LOCALS COFFEE HOUSE, Saturday October 13, 7:30 pm at the Studio / Stage Door in Cranbrook

Time flies when you are having fun and so for over 20 seasons that’s what it has all been about and on this particular Saturday night it was no different. There were some new performers (Stacy Oig from Oliver), seasoned performers (Daze of Grace), expatriates  returning to the area (Ferdy Belland and Erin Dalton), performers trying on new roles (Barry Coulter), young performers (Angus MacDonald and Will Nicholson in LEATHER BRITCHES, and Connor Foote) and old performers who should know better (Rod Wilson). The night kicked off with MC Erin Dalton introducing Stacy Oig. Stacy is a new arrival fresh in from Oliver. “Do you like country?”  – what he served up was country but with a difference. No the usual “whinny, cryin’ and hurting” staples but a series of songs by unfamiliar composers (at least to these ears) such as Jake Owen, Eric Church  and Luke Brian. Stacy was very relaxed, with nice crisp guitar accompaniments and a good stage presence that garnered an immediate response from the audience. Local seasoned performers Daze of Grace, that included visual artist, vocalist and guitarist Sharon Routley,  and Jubal Routley on guitar were joined by Rod Wilson on percussion. As I was part of the performing group I can’t really comment on how we went down. I was too busy trying to remember what drum comes next.  Barry “Zimmerman” Coulter is a man of many talents and each time he steps on stage it is a revelation. Whether it is as an actor, jazz guitarist with the NOTABLES, on amplified dulcimer or, in this instance, as a 12 string guitarist / harmonica playing vocalist. Barry was sporting his latest prize – an Ovation 12 String guitar he picked up in a second hand store at a steal of a price. His performance was a “rootsy” take on “No Money Down”, “Motherless Child” and the Bob Dylan masterpiece “Every Grain of Sand“. Rumour has it that Barry is working on his blues  piano chops so maybe some time in the future we will get to see and hear the “Dr John“ side of his musical persona. After the intermission young Connor Foote came on stage to bring to life the musical characteristics of  Bob Dylan and John Prine. Connor has not been performing long but he has the essence of both of these performers absolutely nailed down.  He also did Hank William`s “Never get out of this World Alive“, and a couple of his own originals including the one with the classic intro line “I met my wife at a family re-union“. Ferdy Belland and his wife Erin have returned to the Kootenays after a nine year sojourn in Vancouver. Ferdy plays bass and in Vancouver played in a million bands. Erin returned to Cranbrook to take over LOTUS BOOKS, Ferdy to once again enliven the local music scene. During their stay in Vancouver Erin acquired probably one of the prettiest hand made guitars we are ever likely to see. It was this  magnificent guitar that Ferdy got to play on Tom Van Zandt`s “Pancho and Lefty“ and John Prine`s “Hello in There“. I was so mesmerised by the sound of this magnificent instrument that I forgot to take photos of Ferdy`s fine performance.  The last performers of the evening were LEATHER BRITCHES, featured Angus MacDonald on fiddle and Mandolin, Will Nicholson on Irish rhythm guitar and myself, Rod Wilson, on Irish Bouzouki and Cittern. The intention was to bring the evening to close with some foot stomping down-East fiddle tunes that included The Creature Set, The Cheap wine Set and The Battle March Medley. They finished the evening with Angus switching to mandolin and Rod to Cittern for “Bonnie Ciara“ (a plagarised version of the old Scottish tune “The Bonnie Dundee“) and the Irish session tune “The Blarney Pilgrim“.

I am sure the performers and the audience would like to thank the many, many volunteers that make LOCALS COFFEE HOUSE series such a success. A special thanks to Mark Casey on sound and Jon Bisset for his deft stage management .


Brahms to the Blues

From Saturday to Saturday (Sept 29 to October 6, 2012) there was wall to wall entertainment in the Key City (Cranbrook). The week kicked off with the La Cafamore String Quartet and Nicola Everton at the Knox Presbyterian Church with a sampling of very modern string music and a thick slice of the past with a Brahms Clarinet Quintet.  On the Sunday at the Key City Theatre the Go Go Grannies hosted a benefit concert for the Stephen Lewis Foundation. The opening act featured the rambunctious music of “The Good Ol’ Goats”  followed by the classical harp and vocal music of Bronn and Katherine Journey. See the previous posts in this blog for reviews of those events. 


HEATHER G’s JAM, Wednesday October 3, 2012, 7pm at Ric’s Lounge in the Prestige Hotel in Cranbrook. Some of us musicians remember the heady days of a little while back when KAMP (Kootenay Association of Musical Performers) run regular Friday night sessions at Ali Barba’s Lounge in the Finnegans Wake Pub. Unfortunately the pub closed down and the sessions came to an end. They were great times with lots of great music. So much so that Heather Gemmell and Brian Noer decided to try and rekindle the flame by approaching the management of Ric’s Lounge for a trial Jam session.  Without any reservations the night was declared a great success. Lots of the former KAMP musicians showed up and there was good audience response. Heather kicked off the evening  with John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” and Rod Wilson chiming in on Irish Whistle. Other performers during the evening where SHEVA (Shelagh and Van Redecopp), JOSHUA BURNING (Garnet Waite and Keith Larsen) with their new bass player John Gerlitz. Their particular set served notice that this new configuration of the roots/country band is destined to make a significant mark on the the local scene.  Also on stage were Tom Bungay, Dave Prinn, Mark Casey, Jim Marshall and lots of percussion and mixing and matching of the various musicians in the room. Keith Larsen on mandolin and guitar really ignited Dave Prinn’s performance (not that it needed igniting) with some blazing solos and accompaniments. If there is any justice in the world there will be more sessions at Ric’s in the near future. In fact the next session has been scheduled for Friday November 9, 2012. There is nothing like real live music in great casual surroundings. Ric’s lounge definitely qualifies on all levels and for this we must thank Ric’s Operation Manager Rheanne Groumoutis  for the venue and Heather Gemmell and Brian Noer for pulling it all together. Here are some images from a great night of music:



Friday October 5, 2012, 7pm at Ric’s Lounge in the Prestige Inn in Cranbrook.
Despite the acknowledged fact that Jazz is not the most popular music of this decade The Jazz Council continues to thrive. The original configuration of the band; Laurel Ralston (Trumpet & Fluegelhorn), Sven Heyde (drums), Bernie Primbs (baritone sax), Tim Plait (keyboards) and Joel Kroeker (bass) have probably played over 30 engagements in just over a year. There are not too many, if any, local bands that can boast that sort of activity. Unfortunately, Tim has relocated to Germany to further his studies and Joel has taken up a teaching position in Sparwood. But as, they say, “it ain’t over till’ it’s over” The Jazz Council will continue to thrive with two new replacement musicians; Geoff Haynes on keyboards and Stu Driedger on bass. Geoff is from Edmonton and he will be taking on  a number of musical tasks vacated by the Tim Plait. Stu Driedger is a local Cranbrook youth who has been away to study and is now back on the local scene. This particular gig was a kind of shake down cruise for the new musicians. An opportunity to run the changes on some familiar standards and jazz tunes before taking on the original material and projects that I am sure are in the works. Geoff and Stu had an opportunity to explore the standard piano jazz trio with “Darn That Dream” as well as such small combo staples as, “Fly me to the Moon”, “You Can’t Take that away from Me”, “It might as well be Spring” “Summertime”, “A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square” “Harlem Nocturne”, “If I had a Bell”, “Night Train” and at least one Miles Davis Tune. For this civilized night of music, food and refreshment the musicians and the patrons need to thank the new Patron Saint of Live Music in Cranbrook, Ric’s Operation Manager Rheanne Groumoutis. Thank you, thank you, thank you Rheanne.



BILLY MANZIK AND LISA EDBERG: Friendz Now Pub, Cranbrook, Saturday October 6, 2012 9pm. Well this was a surprise and a very pleasant one at that. Who are these guys? Sorry Lisa, you are definitely not a guy. Where did they come from? How come we have not heard of them? These are two very talented musicians who currently reside in Santa Cruz, California. Billy Manzik is originally from from Thunder Bay, Ontario and plays guitars and sings. Lisa Edberg plays outstanding upright bass and is originally from Colorado. They are part of that musical underground of very talented people who seem to just kick around gypsy style, covering thousands of kilometers going from gig to gig. They may play for a dozen people or 15,000, depending on circumstance. Their music is a blues/country/roots mix  best meant for a “foot stompin’ good time”.  Although there are a few original songs in the mix most of their material consists of “covers”. That can be taken as a unkind compliment but it isn’t really. There is way more to it than that. Rather, they take material, remold it and come up with interpretations that are definitely their own personal vehicles of expression. They work extremely well together. Billy sings lead with some exceptionally authoritative finger picking / flat pick guitar with some nice clean dobro slide thrown in for good measure. Lisa excels on her 1957 Epiphone upright bass, plays guitar and sings mostly back vocals. She plays her bass in a “slap” style that is not too often seen around here. The end results are great bass lines punctuated with a percussive attack that drives the rhythm into that “foot stompin'” mode. On Saturday night they”stomped” their way though Neil Young’s “Helpless”, J.J.Cale’s “The Breeze“, and on down “Highway 61“, checked in on a  “Brown Eyed Handsome Man“, “Corrina”, “Who Do You Love”, “Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor“, and for good measure they threw in a Van Halen Song. That is only a sampling of what when down during two sets of fine rootsy music. I hope they are back this way some time and maybe a few more Cranbrook residents will get to savoir their talents.

And that was the week that was.


Grannies and Goats

THE GO GO GRANNIES BENEFIT CONCERT, Key City Theatre, September 30, 2pm. Featuring harpist Bronn Journey and vocalist Katherine Journey. The opening act – Good Ol’ Goats. Proceeds from the concert go to The Stephen Lewis Foundation.

First of all, the Go Go Grannies are  a local chapter of the Canada wide Grandmothers to Grandmothers organization which is part of the Stephen Lewis Foundation. The Go Go Grannies raise money to help grandmothers in Africa who are raising their grand children because their parents have died of HIV Aids. The Go Go Grannies have members from Wasa, Cranbrook and Kimberley and meet once a month at the College of the Rockies. For more information contact Muriel Steidl at msteidl@shaw.ca .

The opening act, fresh from their CD release concert of September 15th 2012 at the Studio / Stage Door, were the Good Ol’ Goats. This is a well known local folk band that has had enormous success over the past few months. This group of young musicians include singer / song writer Nolan Ackert (banjo and guitar) Julian Bueckert (drums), Angus Leidtke (vocals, banjo and guitar) Angus MacDonald (vocals, Fiddle and mandolin) Theo Moore (vocals and bass) and Joelle Winkell (vocals, percussion, guitar, autoharp and mandolin). This normally exuberant band kick off the afternoon concert with the rather subdued opening of  “In the Garden” – a mellow tune that belied it’s somewhat macabre content. They moved on through a number of their, by now, well known songs from their recent CD release that included “Not the Same“, “Sailor’s Love Song“, “Kiss the Cactus”, and, of course, the title track, “The Train”


Now fresh from a muddy Welsh rugby field here is Bronn Journey with his violent electric blue harp.

The idea of a Harp and Voice concert normally brings up the vision of cherubs floating around the ceiling of a cathedral. Bronn does his best to dispel that image. Being a rugged, large muscular man he is as far from a cherub as you could image. As the Harp is a national instrument of Wales Bronn insists that the harp is the instrument of choice for Welsh rugby players and by extension should be the instrument of choice for Canadian hockey players. Be that as it may, Bronn went onto perform the music of angels on this spectacular harp. He opened with some “cutting edge Lawrence Welk music” (his words) with a rendition of the atmospheric “Ebb Tide”. Throughout the afternoon, with a great deal of panache, humour and virtuosity  he delivered a wide variety of tunes that included “Autumn Leaves”, “Chariots of fire”, Bach’s “Jesu Man’s Desire”, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy“, the Willie Nelson/Patsy Cline tune “Crazy”, some Welsh hymns  and many others. In between sets of tunes Bronn managed a short entertaining dissertation on the mechanics of the harp. From time to time he was joined by his wife Katherine for vocal selections that included songs from The Sound of Music (“My Favourite Things”). Their finale was Josh Groban’s “Climb Every Mountain”.



Shelagh and Van’s Wedding

Saturday, September 1, 2012. It couldn’t have been a better day. It was sunny, warm (not too warm) and the venue for the wedding of Shelagh Gunn and Van Redecopp at Mayook was perfect. Over the years the old Dougie Erickson property has been host to may gatherings of friends and families of the “Mayook Maniacs” but this one was extra special. It was a gathering of some two hundred friends and family to celebrate the marriage of Van Redecopp and Shelagh Gunn. They met about five years ago at one of the Sorento Bluegrass camps, became musical friends and the romantic partners that culminated in this day of celebration. A grand happy occasion, good friends, good food, good weather and the cream of local musicians. What more could one want.

Here are some images from the day of celebration (click on the images for a larger view).


Mayook always means live music. Although there was some DJ music on tap in very short order live music ruled the day. As usual for Mayook there was an entire spectrum of music. From bagpipe tunes drifting down from above the campsite, classic rock, country, Bluegrass, traditional folk, Cape Breton Fiddle Music and some mad bagpipe and percussion improvisational mayhem.

                                                            These are some of the images I managed to capture but if friends and family have images they would like to share send hi-res Jpeg files to me at parahaki@xplornet.com and I will add them to the post.


 and for those who missed it here is  The Wedding Song




Celtara at Centre 64

CELTARA at Centre 64: Wednesday August 15, 2012, 7:30 pm

Celtic music can cover a pretty wide spectrum of styles and places of origin. From the “green beer and shamrock”, rip up the floor boards and blister the paint of a St. Patrick Day bar music scene to the precise, somewhat academic music favoured by the Chieftains. The blister the paint school grew out of the music of the Clancy Brothers, the Dubliners and the Irish Rovers in the 1960’s. They are well  remembered for their recordings and the repertoire that has filtered into mainstream music. To this day this style of music is mostly song based and is great fun for a party. Occasionally a few dance tunes are thrown into the mix to get the feet tapping. Great Big Sea and the Pogues are recent popular manifestations of this school of Celtic music. Since the heady days of the Dubliners there has been steady growth in the number of musicians who have chosen to delve deeper into the well of traditional dance music. The Chieftains are still on the scene with their somewhat sedate ambience but they have been joined by bands with a more robust interpretation of the tradition. The Bothy Band set the pace in the seventies and since that time bands like Altan and Lunasa continue to expand the tradition. So between the Pogues and Lunasa there are various shadings  of how Celtic music can be played. And off to the side, there are various regional styles of the music. Fiddle music from Cape Breton and Scotland and bagpipe music from Galicia (Spain) are just a couple of examples. While guitars are used the music is more noted for its reliance on the traditional flute, penny whistle, fiddle, harp, concertina, accordion and more recently Irish Bouzouki.

And where does Celtara fit in this scheme of things? Well they are some where in the middle. The traditional songs are there (“The Bonnie Ship the Diamond”, “P Stands or Paddy”) as well as the traditional dance tunes. They string the dance tunes together in the time honored tradition of three or more played without a break. The normal predictable cadences that end a Bluegrass or pop tune are missing.  Like most Celtic bands of this ilk, tunes are strung together  and the aim for a good, or even great, performance is for flawless smooth transitions from one tune to another. In some instances it is like the shifting of gears in a luxury car, smoothly without notice and then all of a sudden things can just take off. Like motoring a mountain road the musicians navigate the twists and turns of the tunes in the set. Remember this  is dance music and a one tune dance doesn’t cut it. There is a huge reservoir of tunes to pick from and Celtara is adding to the list with their own original tunes. In their “The Gap Tooth Set” they included a new tune by Tammi Cooper called “Spillamacheen”. Included in another dance set was the tune with the unusual title “Grannie Hold the Candle while I Shave the Chickens Lips” (????).

The musicians are from Edmonton and include Tammi Cooper (flute and Irish whistle and vocals) Bonnie Gregory (fiddle, harp and vocals), Steve Bell (keyboard and accordion), Andreas Illig ( Irish Bouzouki and Guitar) and Mark Arnison (percussion). The flute, fiddle, harp and accordion all have well established pedigrees in traditional Celtic music. Although it should be mentioned that Bonnie’s harp was built in Western Canada so it is somewhat home grown. The Irish Bouzouki is a recent invention, if that’s the right word. Irish musicians visiting the Balkans in the 1960’s became enamored with the Greek Bouzouki and they took it back to Ireland where they had them built with flat backs and changed the tuning to fit Irish music. The Irish Bouzouki  is a common feature in Celtic bands.The band Great Big Sea uses the Bouzouki and even Steve Earle showed up at the Key City in Cranbrook recently with an Irish Bouzouki. Andreas Illig plays a beautiful Irish built Foley Bouzouki. Guitars are a fairly recent addition to Irish traditional music and generally requires a  different approach to tuning and how it is played. Andreas plays a Collins dreadnought guitar tuned in DADGAD (guitarists will know what that means) . Bones and Bodhran (Irish Frame Drum) are the only traditional Celtic percussion instruments that I know of, but that is changing.Traditional bands are now known to use Congas, Darbukas, and Djembes and just about anything that they can hit, shake or rattle.   Mark Arnison uses a Djembe (from West Africa), tube drums (home made from plumbing pipe) and a variety of cymbals and shakers. He also plays the Bodhran but not always in the Irish style. During performances he switched back and forth from the traditional beater to a Middle Eastern hand drumming style where the Bodhran is nursed in the lap and played with both hands. His percussion accompaniments were subtle and always there. Never loud or overbearing. Like all good percussionists he was under the music adding colour and pulse. Celtara plays very finely crafted music that places an emphasis on being in tune with smooth transitions from one instrument to another. Tammi explained that they way back they had a teacher who had the motto “Tune or Die” tacked to his wall. It is a lesson that has stuck. So the music was a superb mix of traditional songs, sad and happy, and a great sampling of dance tunes. The sound system was superb and transparent. It was easy to forget that they were even using a sound system.

This is the the Edmonton band’s first visit to the area and one hopes it is the first of many.

Here are more images from the concert: (click on the images for a larger view)



Arts on the Edge 2012

ARTS ON THE EDGE : THE GALA RECEPTION Adjudicated Open Exhibitions for Established and Emerging Artists, Centre 64 from August 8th to September 1st, 2012. The Gala event was held on Friday, August 10, 2012.

Ticket sales had not been brisk so when so many last minute patrons started crowding into the gallery the organizers were caught a little off guard.  There was plenty of food but with the number of artists and patrons in the downstairs and upstairs gallery space it quickly became evident that a supply run for liquid refreshments was required. Not to worry, with super efficiency this was soon taken care of. The evening was a brilliant success with 22 established artists and 17 emerging artists exhibiting upwards to 80 pieces of art covering all aspects of the visual arts.  The organizers had a field day with giving out of awards.The members of the jazz group, The Jazz Council (Laurel Ralston on trumpet; Tim Plait on piano, Bernie Primbs on Baritone sax, Sven Heyde on drums and Joel Kroeker on bass)  had lodged them selves on the upper gallery and their music floating down on the patrons more than enhanced the Gala atmosphere of the reception.                                           With the huge number of patrons the galleries did get a little warm but that was a convenient excuse for patrons to spill out into the garden. To contribute to the “edgeness” of Arts on the Edge I submitted a piece called “Death of Down Jacket” I don’t know if I should have been embarrassed but one patron actually remembered me wearing this jacket on the ski hill many, many years ago. (click on the images for larger views)


ARTS ON THE EDGE: THE CONCERT IN THE PARK  – Coronation Park, Kimberley, August 11, 2012, 1 pm to 7:30 pm

Without a word of doubt this must be the best musical bang for the buck on the planet. $5 per head or $10 for a family for an out door concert on a beautiful August sunny day. Situated in Coronation Park  within 5 minutes walking distance of down town Kimberley it is a great setting on a great day and, best of all, with lots of great music and entertainment. While there was a sprinkling of out of town performers (Holly and Jon from the Slocan, Kiki the Eco Elf from Vernon and The Kings of Kitchener from Creston) local musicians had ample opportunities to win new fans. The opening act for the afternoon was 60 Hertz (James Neve vocals & guitar; Rob Young lead guitar; Dave Birch on bass; Marty Musser drums). This well known local band is a vehicle for the song writing talents of James Neve, the smooth lead guitar work of Rob Young and the tight ensemble vocals and arrangements of the band. As always this was a classy act that was further enhanced by Ray Gareau’s masterful balancing of the sound. The all time favourites were there (“These Old Shoes”, “Deep Water”, “Virtuality” – with that wonderful descending bass run) as well as the newer songs “Cry for You” and “Living in the Sun”. I missed not hearing “Rainland” but, as always,  it is the old story of “so many tunes and so little time”

                                   60 Hertz, a band at the top of their game.

While the next band was setting up The Off Centre Players, with a little help from the young folks in audience set out to prove that The Wolf in the three little pigs story was framed. The Wolf proved too scary for one young performer who went screaming from the scene. The script, “The Wolf – I was Framed”, was from the pen of Joanne Wilkinson.                        

Heather Gemmell and the Peaks (Heather – guitar and vocals; Paul Bouchard – drums; Ray Gareau – bass) came together for last year`s CD release concert of Heather`s recording THE ROAD. I suspect that they had been jamming and rehearsing prior to that gig. Heather still has a healthy solo career but yearns for the “edgyness“ of a full on band. That has it`s pluses but it is a shame that her great guitar riffs and voice tend to get buried in the overly amplified mix.                                                                                                     In the meantime Bill Henriksen is over there on the edge Spinning his Yarn (literally)


 and Kiki the Eco Elf (Tanya Lipscomb) was busy getting the kids to wave their hands in the air and to do “The Sillies”.                                                  

And then it was time for “a little country” with Tucks Troubadours (Larry Tuck – ukelele bass, Dave Carlson – Mandolin, Bud Decose – lead guitar and Doug Simpson on rhythm guitar) The set  included songs and tunes by George Straight, Tom T. Hall, Bob Wills (“Faded Love”), Rodney Foster (“Just call me Lonesome”) and the very un-country composer Duke Ellington (“Don’t Get Around Much any more”). There was lots of great ensemble work by the band with mandolin and lead guitar solos by Dave Carlson and Bud Decose.


Jon Burden and his daughter Holly have been touring and performing in this area for over a dozen years. Holly was not much more than a teenager when I first saw her perform and, of course, over the years things have changed. Originally they toured as Jon and Holly. Jon was the mentor and Holly the protege. Now Holly is all grown up, a mother and a mature artist in her own right so, naturally they are now billed as Holly and Jon. Their music is saturated in a blues tradition that goes way back to Bessie Smith with all stops in between. Although they have been coming to Kimberley for many years every performance is fresh and vibrant. They have a new recording under their belt and Arts on the Edge festival was an opportunity to show case the blues and original material on that disc. Jon has always done a superb job on Robert Johnston’s “Better Come In My Kitchen” but this year it was over the top with Jon’s perfectly controlled slide work, Holly’s bass and Holly’s voice soaring over the top in a spine chilling arrangement. For the young female performers in the area Holly is the role model they should all be looking to emulate. She has a great voice, stage presence, superb bass playing and a professional demeanour that should be a bench mark.   As always it was a great performance.                                      “As the sun started sinking slowly in the west” PT THE CLOWN was still busy with the kids as The Kings of Kitchener took to the stage with their special brand of quirky rock and roll. The band, from Creston, featured Mike Mitchell on suite case percussion, Ted Bryant on Guitar and Neil “O” (Ostafichuk) on bass guitar. I have a special affection for this band. Mike’s kick bass drum trunk originally came all the way from Australia with me and my family over thirty years ago. I love their weird instrumentation and off the wall interpretations of music we all know but have never really heard it played this way. This is truly Art on the Edge.             

For the published review of last year’s ARTS ON EDGE 2011 go to the JOURNALISM tab in this blog.