Central Music Festival promises down-home focus

The third annual Central Music Festival is to be held August 14 and 15 on the same site north of Red Deer as the two previous festivals. The organizers have wisely focused this year’s lineup, emphasizing Alberta and western talent.


The third annual Central Music Festival is to be held August 14 and 15 on the same site north of Red Deer as the two previous festivals. The organizers have wisely focused this year’s lineup, emphasizing Alberta and western talent.

Even with local concentration, one shouldn’t be surprised by the variety of the music to be presented. As in previous years, roots music will share the stage with blues, jazz, country, and rock performers, with an apparent increased emphasis on world music sounds.

The well-rounded festival includes Amos Garrett, Steve Coffey & the Lokels, Donna Durand, Ndidi Onikwulu, Dick Damron, and many others. Details at www.centralmusicfest.com, with tickets at the Black Knight Inn outlet and Valhalla Pure Outfitters.

The Bop Ensemble — Bill Bourne, Wyckham Porteous, and Jas — return to the city for a performance next Saturday night at The Vat Pub. The same night, Jesse Dee & Jacquie B bring roots, pop and jazz to the Velvet Olive Lounge.

Finally, tickets for George Jones’ October 15 show at the Enmax Centrium went on sale earlier this week. Wasn’t he on a Farewell Canada tour the last time through town? Nonetheless, the Possum remains popular with a select clientele and tickets are on sale at Ticketmaster.

This week’s CD review:

Scott H. Biram

Something’s Wrong/Lost Forever

BloodshotCentral Music Festival promises down-home focus

Scott H. Biram. Now there stands a man on a mission.

Biram is on a journey to make a melding of the triple forces of Hank Williams, hillbilly blues, and rock ‘n’ roll legitimate. And on his seventh album, he does so in a manner that is much more appealing than most of the music released by Hank III and others who have similarly attempted to bring together disparate music styles.

With a hard rockin’ beat, sound collages, and vocal effects that somehow make his claim all the more justifiable, Biram has produced a creative, challenging version of what used to be referred to as alt. country. Indeed, Biram’s music has as much in common with R L Burnside’s nasty Fat Possum releases as it does the songs of Jon Langford, The Sadies, or Justin Townes Earle.

Irreverent, profane, and slightly off kilter, Biram somehow makes it all work, and he has created a country-blues vision that packs a punch while retaining melody.

The Dirty Ole One Man Band, as Biram is often referred, produced the album almost entirely on his own, with additional musicians featured on only two songs.

Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still Blue not only has a title worthy of Robbie Fulks or Dale Watson, but Biram’s desolate lyrics- including “sweat gets so cold alone every night,” capture desperation in a manner worthy of more familiar songwriters.

Judgment Day would fit with the outtakes from Fred Eaglesmith’s spellbinding Tinderbox album; Biram’s rapid-fire proselytizing warns of what is coming, as the gator snaps at your heels.

Wildside is an impassioned love letter to a woman who has long move on, but whom apparently remains susceptible to backsliding.

The album’s strongest cut may well be the trucking anthem Draggin’ Down the Line; one needn’t have driven a rig to relate to the pressures and daily grind being described: “Starin’ out the window at the world just movin’, thinkin’ ‘bout changes and the friends I keep losin’.”

How does one summarize an album such as Something’s Wrong/Lost Forever? There is some Dan Penn southern country soul mixed in with the electric lead guitar along with elements of Tony Joe White’s swamp rock, but Biram isn’t nearly as refined musically. His voice is huge and weathered with miles but, as demonstrated on Leadbelly’s Go Down Ol’ Hannah, controlled and eminently listenable. This album is dark, and its images, messages, and sounds reverberate long into the night.

I’d say that I don’t really want to know Scott H. Biram after listening to his enjoyable, disquieting album. Unfortunately, I think I do know him. He is me. And you. We all have thoughts that are hidden in shadows. The difference is, Biram puts his to music and rhyme.

Donald Teplyske is a local freelance writer who contributes a twice-monthly column on roots music; visit fervorcoulee.wordpress.com for additional reviews. If you know a roots music event of which he should be aware, contact him at fervorcoulee@shaw.ca

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