Musical misadventures ahead

elliott brood performing in Bragg Creek, the first of my year of live music in Calgary and around

I predict it will be a melodious year. I’m hoping to take in loads of live music shows – some here at home and others a short drive or flight away. Here’s what what the year ahead is looking like for live music in Calgary and nearby.

Winter gigs

Elliott Brood. The Performing Arts Society in the lovely town of Bragg Creek is hosting Elliott and his alt-country band for the only Alberta show of their tour. It was love at first sound when I heard them at Calgary Folk Festival years ago. I’m looking forward to hearing a new-to-me local band Northern Beauties open the show too. January 21 in Bragg Creek.

Joel Plaskett with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. East coast Canadian rock meets classical – this should be a high energy collaboration. My annual night at the symphony will have a non-traditional twist this year. January 24.

Rueben and the Dark. Calgary’s indie folk-pop darlings should really be a much bigger deal beyond our fair city. Their show is part of the 3-day Block Heater festival featuring lots of other music to warm up YYC’s February. February 10.

Calgary’s National Music Centre. The NMC is less than a year old, but it’s time I get over there to see/hear the five floors of exhibitions. Any time.

Spring sounds

U of C World Music Ensemble. I just discovered the University of Calgary’s School of Creative and Performing Arts program this year. They stage excellent (and affordable) productions of music, drama and dance featuring both seasoned and developing talent. This one will feature students playing folk, pop and classical music from cultures around the world on instruments both familiar and not. March 24.

University of Calgary World Music Ensemble performing

image credit: University of Calgary School of Creative and Performing Arts

The Last Waltz Remembered. A bunch of talented Canadian musicians will recreate the 1976 final concert by the band called The Band.  I was too young to even know about the original show, but I have memories of humming along when my older cousins and babysitters played their music, on vinyl of course. This time the performer with the most cred will be Amy Helm (daughter of Levon Helm), but Matt Anderson, Russel Broom (band member for Jann Arden, Terri Clark and many more) are amazing musicians in their own right. April 5.

Big Band Brunch. Every second Saturday (except summer), the Ironwood Stage brings in the Prime Time Big Band to play vintage and new jazz tunes starting at noon. Friends have enjoyed it in past, but I haven’t yet.  April 8 or 22.

Spiritus Chamber Choir – Old, New, Borrowed, Blue. I wrote about this chorale ensemble in a past story on performing arts groups in Calgary. This performance will include works by classical masters like Wagner and modern composers such as Eric Whitacre. He’s the maestro behind the Virtual Choir project. He composes and publishes chorale pieces online and invites singers worldwide to submit audition videos. He then stitches video clips together to create a virtual choir performance. He won’t be here to conduct in Calgary, but the program features one of his compositions. May 7.

Basia Bulat. I may have to drive out to Bragg Creek a see this uber-cool Polaris prize-winning Canadian singer-songwriter. Even though two of her songs have been used in car commercials, she hasn’t hit the mainstream yet. That means smaller shows in intimate venues like this one. Best to grab the chance to say “I saw her when”, while it lasts. May 13 in Bragg Creek.

Summer festivals on the prairies

This summer I feel like skipping the large event ordeal of the Calgary Folk Festival in favour of a few other musical gatherings. The top contenders so far:

  • Sled Island – alternative and indie music. Past headliners have included Yo la Tengo, Guided by Voices and the Jesus & Mary Chain. June 21-25.
  • Interstellar Rodeo (Edmonton) or South Country Fair (Fort Macleod). The rodeo billed last year’s lineup as country noir, epic indie, California soul, rebel rockers and more. The Fair’s focus looks to be roots, folk and world music. They’re both on the same weekend so the lineup announcements and/or my ability to round up a road trip crew will determine the winner. July 21-23 in Edmonton or Fort Macleod.
  • Regina Folk Festival – a diverse mix of roots, alt-country, indie, folk and world music in a smaller city. With only 4,000 people per evening vs 12,000 at Calgary’s festival, it’s big enough to attract a strong lineup of performers and small enough to minimize beer lineups. Aug 11-13 in Regina.

ironwood stage amd regina fold festival stage

A euphonious fall

It’s too early for most fall concert announcements, but I’m keeping these on my radar to start:

  • Circle the Wagons – I missed this new festival last year but heard it was good fun. Live bands, DJ’s, roving circus performers, food trucks and a wiener dog race and parade (really!). Early September.
  • Love & Records – It might be well worth the two-hour drive south for this combo music festival, record fair, art show, comedy tent and beer garden – all outdoors. Sept 17 in Lethbridge.

If you’ve got more ideas, let me know in the comments. A melodious year to you,

 

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Comments

  1. Love this! Put me down for the Big Band brunch April 8 or 22. I’ve been wanting to do this for 2 years!
    I think the Lethbridge event sounds like a good a reason as any to head south on hwy2

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