Hannam: Alberta’s great folk hope

Lee Harvey Osmond — Tom Wilson and his assorted band of vagabonds — finally bring their A Quiet Evil tour to Red Deer. In what may turn out to be the show of the autumn, Lee Harvey Osmond’s explosive acid folk hits The Vat stage around 9 o’clock Saturday night; $10 cover at the door.


Lee Harvey Osmond — Tom Wilson and his assorted band of vagabonds — finally bring their A Quiet Evil tour to Red Deer. In what may turn out to be the show of the autumn, Lee Harvey Osmond’s explosive acid folk hits The Vat stage around 9 o’clock Saturday night; $10 cover at the door.

An early evening showcase of contemporary guitar is on for The Hub (4936 Ross St.) on Oct. 28 as two of the Prairies’ finest pickers join forces. Bob Evans is a Saskatchewan finger-picker of international acclaim while Steve Fisher is the smoothest Calgary-based singer and guitarist one could hope to encounter. The show gets underway at 6 p.m., following a house concert format with $15 tickets available at 53rd Street Music and Parkland Audio.

The Waskasoo Bluegrass Music Society continues their season with three-time International Bluegrass Music Association female vocalist of the year Dale Ann Bradley fronting her bluegrass ensemble. Tickets for this Nov. 8 Elks Lodge performance are available at numerous outlets: 53rd Street Music, Red Deer Book Exchange, Parkland Mall Service Desk, The Key Hole, Jackson’s Pharmasave in Innisfail, Popow’s Autobody of Lacombe, Rocky Mountain House’s Novel Ideas and Dee J’s in Olds.

The Central Music Fesitval continues their fall season on Nov. 15 with the modern Cuban rhythms and attitudes of Alex Cuba, a versatile and popular British Columbia-based entertainer. Presenting music featuring Latin, African, funk, and pop influences, Cuba’s third album is a riveting collection of dance music; the floor will be full of revelers on this night!

Then, on Nov. 25, Canadian folk masters Tanglefoot bring their farewell tour to the Elks Lodge presented by the Central Music Festival. Tickets for these shows are available at the Black Knight Inn and Valhalla Pure Outfitters.

This week’s disc reviews:

John Wort Hannam

Queen’s Hotel

Black Hen Music

Maintaining his home base in Fort Macleod, over three previous albums John Wort Hannam has established himself as the province’s great folk hope. If anyone within this hard packed environment is destined for greatness, odds have to be in favour of it being the unassuming, former school teacher from the southland.

From his numerous area visits, those who have encountered Wort Hannam appreciate that his voice is pleasingly distinctive. As do Chris Smithers and Martin Sexton, two songwriting musicians that come to mind when listening to Wort Hannam, Wort Hannam and producer Steve Dawson ensure that this powerful voice is presented as his albums’ unifying feature. On Queen’s Hotel, his dreamy lyrical delivery allows each phrase to settle, to find relevancy in the listener’s experience.

Consistent with the previous Two-Bit Suit album, Wort Hannam is backed by a full band. Dawson’s presence is evident, but it is not noted when Wort Hannam is doing the picking or when it is the producer contributing. Rob Becker’s double bass provides depth, while John Reischman’s mandolin contributions are obvious, especially on the swinging Requiem for a Small Town.

Much like an old Merle Haggard album, Wort Hannam’s latest presents a series of vignettes that represent lives and stories greater than their four minutes suggest.

Noteworthy are Juno-winner Jenny Whiteley’s duet vocals on Worth a Damn, a tune that would bring to mind John Prine and Iris Dement even if the press sheet didn’t suggest such. Before I Wake, a song of the traveling troubadour’s life, is a highlight as is Lucky Strikes.

The album’s legacy song may be the lead cut, With the Grain; of such quality that it brings to mind the attributes of Guy Clark, this one contains workbench wisdom and, I suspect, will be played at more than a few funerals.

In true folk fashion, Wort Hannam delves into his own catalogue to provide updated renditions of two of his most popular numbers: Pier 21, detailing his family’s journey from Jersey to Canada, and the unofficial anthem of Southern Alberta, Church of the Long Grass.

Not only the finest Canadian folk album of the year, I can’t recall a more engaging or memorable folk album of the past several years. As did each of his previous discs, Queen’s Hotel demonstrates that John Wort Hannam is a major talent.

Starting this evening in Santa Clara, Wort Hannam is spending October bringing his music to California coffeehouses and folk clubs. With an album of the rare qualities of Queen’s Hotel, word is bound to continue to spread about one of Canada’s finest independent artists.

Also in heavy rotation this week: Dale Ann Bradley: Don’t Turn Your Back; The Black Crowes: Until the Freeze; Various Artists: Putumayo Presents España; Things About Comin’ My Way — A Tribute to the Music of The Mississippi Sheiks; Drive-By Truckers- The Fine Print.

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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