The press release announcing Bob Dylan concerts in both Edmonton and Calgary landed in our mailboxes last week which meant many of us didn’t have to continue debating whether to attend one of his upcoming shows in Lloydminster (August 10) or Lethbridge (August 11).
While I’d still like to catch Dylan at an outdoor venue like the Exhibition Grandstand show in Lloyd, that also happens to be the Friday night of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival where Emmylou Harris is slated to perform on that main stage between shows from Arlo Guthrie and family and The Barr Brothers; plus there will undoubtedly be a few workshops of the “not-to-miss” variety at Gallagher Park that evening.
What may be the key to the Edmonton and Calgary Dylan dates is the addition of Mark Knopfler as the opening act.
The founder of Dire Straits backed Dylan, along with original Dire Straits drummer Pick Withers, on the remarkable Slow Train Coming recording 33 years ago and then showed up for Dylan’s Infidels sessions a few years later.
With Knopfler on board we’re at least guaranteed one set where we don’t have to spend 45 seconds guessing what tune the artist has just launched into, as anyone who has experienced multiple Dylan shows will attest. You just never know which way the wind is going to blow at a Bob show.
This also isn’t Knopfler’s first go-round with Dylan on the road as they toured Europe together last year. More often than not Knopfler sat in with Dylan and his crack band, anchored by bassist Tony Garnier since 1989, and Knopfler and Dylan closed that tour out with a vocal duet of "Forever Young".
Both artists have new albums coming out in the next two months as Knopfler’s Privateering is set for release on September 3 and Dylan’s Tempest set is slated to drop at retail a week later. Fans can get a taste of Knopfler’s latest via a tune called "Redbud" at markknopfler.com
Tickets for the Edmonton (Oct. 9) and Calgary (Oct. 10) Dylan/Knopfler dates go on sale Friday July 27 at 10:00 a.m. at all Ticketmaster outlets.
For all you longtime followers of the Grateful Dead, and I am presuming that most of you listen to Dead Ends & Detours from time to time, the good news is that a member of the Dead alumni association is finally going to make an appearance in the province.
Mickey Hart and his inspired and adventurous seven-piece ensemble will play a string of dates in Alberta in February 2012 and the two anchor dates are Friday Feb. 22 and Saturday Feb. 23 at Festival Place in Sherwood Park.
Two more dates - one in Red Deer and one in Calgary - will fill out the swing that will see Hart performing a great deal of material from his latest album Mysterium Tremendum. The disc has Hart and company finding a balance between funky, tight and well-crafted numbers featuring lyrics from Robert Hunter with more exploratory instrumental excursions that draw on the amazing percussion team of Hart, South African trap kit player Ian Herman and Nigerian talking drum master Sikuru Adepoju.
I happened to wander into CKUA main control during the Afternoon Edition last week and Lionel Rault was in the midst of playing "Cut The Deck" from Mysterium Tremendum and I mentioned how much I liked that particular track.
“The whole album is impressive, start to finish. Good band and good tunes, I’ll be playing a number of songs from it,” your weekday afternoon drive host quickly responded.
A Songlines magazine revue insisted that the recording is, “Hart’s most successful attempt yet at fusing his two parallel music careers as rock drummer extraordinaire and intrepid world music explorer.”
We’ll keep you updated on ticket availability and the complete itinerary, but if you are in the Edmonton area give Festival Place a call and find out the details as tickets should be on sale very soon. The phone number there is 780-464-2852.
Last fall Vancouver jazz musician and entrepreneur Cory Weeds joined myself and Yardbird Suite board member Adrian Albert for an installment of Points North, where the we talked about the state of the jazz industry in western Canada.
Weeds not only operates the Cellar Live label, he is also the proprietor of the Cellar Jazz Club on West Broadway in Vancouver.
When he arrived in Edmonton with his tenor saxophone for a two-night stand at Edmonton’s home for jazz, Weeds was in the company of monster New York organ player Mike LeDonne, acclaimed jazz guitarist Oliver Gannon and drummer Jesse Cahill.
The quartet’s performances were taped and the resulting recording has just been released under the banner Up A Step. The disc is a terrific tip of the hat to tenor master Hank Mobley who cut a large swath in the Blue Note label catalogue.
“Mike is such a propulsive personality and instrumentalist, he really brings intensity to the game. I always think I play better with him and as much as he’s a brilliant jazz pianist there’s something about his organ playing that not a lot of players have,” says Weeds from his home base on the west coast.
“The album just received a fabulous review in the Georgia Straight and another in the Vancouver Sun, and it’s getting the kind of play we hoped it would,” added Weeds, who couldn’t be more pleased that the disc hit the Number 4 spot on the American JazzWeek chart this week.
Up A Step is nestled amongst the latest releases from Arturo Sandoval, Pat Methany, Bela Fleck & Marcus Roberts and Eric Reed which makes an adament statement about the quality and accessibility of the Mobley tunes in the hands of Weeds, LeDonne and company.
Weeds is also pleased with the reception another Cellar Live disc is receiving, that being Sonho Meu, a set of latin jazz numbers performed by vocalist Jennifer Scott & Brasileira.
“Jennifer wanted to gig at the Cellar club and insisted she wanted me on the gig as well and after we did about seven shows I really felt we needed to record this band and the tunes which included originals and covers.”
Tom Lavin of the Powder Blues Band and Blue Wave studios was instrumental in helping make the sessions financially viable and Weeds is hoping Ms. Scott can put the funding together to take the show out on the road.
For those of you headed to the Vancouver for a visit this summer, keep the Cellar Club in mind if you are looking for cool sounds on a hot west coast night, or for that matter hot sounds on a cool west coast night.
Over the next few weeks the Cellar will be presenting dates with the likes of Cam Ryga, Phil Dwyer, Kate Hammett-Vaughan, the Cory Weeds quintet with New York trumpet player Jim Rotondi, guitarist Marc Atkinson, as well as a tribute to the music of Joe Henderson. The Cellar recently inserted a blues component into the weekly schedule as guitarist Rob Montgomery of Incognito hosts Blue Mondays at the inviting and cozy venue that is located at 3611 West Broadway. You can find out about all the dates and Cellar releases at www.cellarjazz.com.