Now that the calendar has turned to December it is time to make mention of a few Christmas, holiday, and seasonal events, with a musical foundation, that are happening in our communities over the next few weeks.
We’ll begin by noting Blues On Whyte in Edmonton’s Old Strathcona neighborhood is hosting Christmas Bow on Sunday December 11 from 2 through midnight.
Big Hank Lionhart, the ringleader of Fistful of Blues, and Mike Purcell who manages the Commercial Hotel and Blues On Whyte, are ready to satisfy and handle a big crowd that will be ready, willing and able to support the less fortunate in our city.
“I’m pretty pleased with the line-up of talent that has stepped up to support this event,” says Lionhart, who will have no less than a dozen bands and solo acts on tap at the tavern for Christmas Bow.
The acts in question cover the spectrum of the northern Alberta blues scene with veterans like Hot Cottage, CKUA’s Lionel Rault and his bass-playing brother Ron, sax ace Dave Babcock and Lionhart’s own Fistful, which features members of Tacoy Ryde, all on the bill.
Pianist Graham Guest, who has been touring around this nation in road warrior fashion with Harpdog Brown all year, will be spinning some magic on the eighty-eights and Marshall Lawrence will also be handling one of the solo acoustic blues slots during the marathon event.
“Rotten Dan of Boogie Patrol couldn’t get the entire band together for that afternoon as some of the guys were already commited to other things, but he’s going to do a trio thing that should be a lot of fun. Some of the other acts performing at Christmas Bow are The Blueshounds, 40 Below, Kyler Schogen Band, and the Gray Cats Blues Band,” said Lionhart, who might find himself on stage with Hot Cottage for a song or two.
Brian Koehli, bassist and spokesman for Hot Cottage, sent out an e-mail the other day mentioning that the venerable blues band would slide into its set at 4:10 and that he, guitarist Steve Boddington, drummer Linsey Umrysh, and keyboard player Mike Yuzwenko intended on rocking the joint for 40 minutes. That should be no problem as the band has been rocking Edmonton for 40 years.
Organizers suggest that patrons bring along a non-perishable food item for the Edmonton Food Bank to go along with the $15 admission fee.
Advance tickets for Christmas Bow are available at the Commercial Hotel bar and CKUA is proud to be the media sponsor for this event.
A little aside on Marshall Lawrence, who hosts his Saturday afternoon acoustic sessions at the Crowne Pub on 107 avenue and 109 street in Edmonton.
Marshall has all but put the wraps on his latest recording, which he once again cut at Homestead Recorders with award-winning engineer Barry Allen.
As the sessions were winding down in early August, Marshall wanted a strong ensemble vocal track on one of his tunes. Noticing that The Holmes Brothers were playing the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, the local bluesman made contact through the proper channels with Holmes Brothers representatives and the day after the festival had come to a close, Sherman and Wendell Holmes and drummer Popsy Dixon sauntered into the comfy Homestead studio and got down to business.
Barry Allen smiles while recalling the sessions with the legends who whip up one of the best gumbos of blues, gospel, soul and country music on the planet.
“This was no take the money and run session. The Holmes Brothers really worked on getting just the proper sound down for the tune. They huddled in the studio working out parts until they had it down to their complete satisfaction and they just nailed it,” said Allen of the memorable date.
Of course, Lawrence’s face lights up when he recalls the session.
“Not only did the Holmes Brothers deliver this amazing sound, we couldn’t have connected with nicer human beings. It was such an honor to have them contribute to these sessions,” says the musician.
By the way, Marshall Lawrence will be braving the elements and touring all over the province in early 2012. His itinerary includes dates in Whitecourt, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Stony Plain in the first five weeks of the New Year. You can head to doctorblues.com to find out all the dates and particulars.
Concerts from Terry McDade and The McDades have become part of the Christmas and holiday tradition in Alberta and particularly in Edmonton.
That the group's annual string of concerts at the John Walter Museum on the banks of the north Saskatchewan near the Kinsmen Field House sell out in record time comes as no surprise, as the shows are highlights of the year-long calendar, not just the season.
The harp-playing patriarch of the family has just released a new album titled Winter Rose, recorded under the banner Terry McDade and The McDades. To celebrate the release, the clan has booked a handful of shows that might appease those fans who weren’t able to snag tickets for the John Walter Museum run.
“We added a concert at the Royal Museum Theatre in Edmonton, which is a superb venue and that goes Thursday December 8. While we were at it we booked the Nancy Applebee Theatre in Athabasca for a show on Tuesday December 13 and another at the newly renovated, art deco Bailey Theatre for December 14,” says papa McDade who is more than pleased with the outcome of the Winter Rose recording.
“I think there are a number of nice moments on the recordings, but Snow Snow which was written by Pete Seeger and our version of Ron Sexsmith’s Maybe This Christmas make me smile,” added the musician who has been such, pardon the pun, an instrumental force on the Alberta roots music scene, as a performer and teacher.
Terry’s kids, Solon, Shannon and Jeremiah, have just returned from another successful string of tour dates in Europe, this time in the Netherlands. The Juno-Award winning group also intends on finishing up a new album for release in 2012 and a local film crew should have a 90 minute McDades documentary for Showcase completed early in the new year as well.
With that, I’m off to Seattle to catch the new Mickey Hart Band at the Tractor Tavern and Chick Corea at Jazz Alley. Am I excited? You bet!