New Year will be off to a great start

Tonight at The Hub on Ross Street, catch a variety of Alberta roots performers in a fundraiser for A Gathering Place and the Red Deer Food Bank.

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Tonight at The Hub on Ross Street, catch a variety of Alberta roots performers in a fundraiser for A Gathering Place and the Red Deer Food Bank.

Bob Jahrig, Steve Fisher, Donna Durand, Ruth Henderson, Will White with Byron Mhyre, and the duo of Marc Ladouceur and Anna Somerville are among the many artists devoting the evening to this worthy event. Admittance is $10 along with a food item donation, with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. and music beginning at 6.

The New Year already appears bountiful with roots-oriented music.

Calgary guitarists Mauricio Moreno and Manuel Jara are The Shaman.

They bring their music rooted in El Salvadorian and Chilean traditions to The Matchbox on Jan. 15. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster and The Matchbox box office.

Texas singer-songwriter Sam Baker makes his long-awaited area debut with Gurf Morlix providing accompaniment on Valentine’s Day, also at The Matchbox. Baker has garnered a considerable Alberta following recently with three albums of engaging music, festival appearances and frequent CKUA airplay. Morlix, who has produced Lucinda Williams, Slaid Cleaves and Romi Mayes among many others, is an understated but gripping vocalist and entertainer in his own right.

Ian Tyson returns on Feb. 26 with tickets for his Memorial Centre concert. Tickets are available at the Black Knight Inn outlet.

Tickets for the Lonesome River Band featuring banjo magician Sammy Shelor — coming to Festival Hall on Feb. 28 — are available from Gale at 403-347-1363.

Finally, Alberta bluesman Mark Sterling brings his Songs of John Lennon performance to the Matchbox on March 6.

This week’s disc review:

The Undesirables

Travelling Show

Self-released

Billed as “two grown men, one guitar and a natural disaster,” Toronto’s The Undesirables have released their third album of original rural soul. This time out, the sound is fuller, more elaborate and refined.

Channeling CCR, Tony Joe White, Bobby Charles and The Band, this pair reminds me of when Gordie Johnson and Mr. Chill (Big Sugar) did duo shows. They play roots music with palpable elements of rock, folk, country soul and the blues, and make no attempt to hide influences. As a result, the music is honest and familiar, yet completely their own — lush and sophisticated, balanced by the simplicity and sweetness of two voices harmonizing.

One imagines the rough-hewn honesty of The Undesirables’ music is a product of darkened highway, borrowed beds and gas station meals. Colin Raymond’s voice is smooth and luxurious, and on tracks as diverse as Night Train, Singing Bones and Northern Girls, somehow brings to mind both Richard Manuel and Bobbie Gentry.

Lyrics from the title track summarize the album’s atmosphere: The tree tops sway like a doo-wop group, I got a front row seat on a front yard stoop.

With extravagant packaging — gatefold, lavish booklet, and inner sleeve — complementing the music, a thoroughly satisfying artistic experience is all but guaranteed from Travelling Show. Take a chance and see if you don’t fall under the spell of The Undesirables.

Also in rotation this week: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers — Live Anthology; Dave Rawlings Machine — A Friend of a Friend; Del McCoury Band — Family Circle; Mary Chapin Carpenter — Come Darkness, Come Light; Various Artists — The Village.

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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