Stars lining up for the summer festival season

Several roots music shows coming our way these next several weeks. If you can, get out and support live music.

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Several roots music shows coming our way these next several weeks. If you can, get out and support live music.

Tonight at The Hideout, British Columbia’s Shilo Lindsey and Johnnie 99 take to the stage followed tomorrow evening by GBRoots, an Alberta duo.

As well tomorrow, Jeans Off House Concerts present Ontarios’s JP Riemens and Dan Walsh; call 403-357-4728 for tickets and information.

You may not have heard of Riemens before, but trust me — he is worth a listen; I was gifted his album Full Moon in August several years ago and it remains a favourite.

Ben Plotnick and the Homebound Runaways come to The Hub April 29. Built around fiddle and bass, the quartet presents lively acoustic music that explores bluegrass and folk-influenced sounds. Tickets at the venue.

On May 1, the Waskasoo Bluegrass Music Society concert season concludes with one of the genre’s most admired bands, The Lost and Found.

Having toured for nearly 40 years, The Lost and Found performs modern bluegrass forged the traditions of the music. This concert starts at 7:00 at the Elks Lodge, and tickets are available at 53rd Street Music, Red Deer Book Exchange, The Key Hole, Parkland Mall Service Desk, Innisfail’s Jackson’s Pharmasave, and Lacombe’s Popow’s Autobody.

The Matchbox’s final concert presentation has Canadian singer Ben Sures hosting a CD release show May 6.

The Hub presents Edmonton’s Woodbend Bluegrass Band the evening of May 13 with Don Swift opening.

Recent weather notwithstanding, the summer festival season is just around the corner.

The Canadian Rockies Cowboy Festival (May 27-29) and the Canadian Rockies Bluegrass Festival (June 17-19) at the David Thompson Resort feature Albertan, Canadian, and American acts. Call 1-888-810-2103 for information.

The Calgary Folk Music Festival (July 21-24) has leaked only a few names and tends to book acts that are less familiar than those who appear elsewhere. So far, k.d. lang, the Felice Brothers, Black Mountain, the Flatlanders, Joseph Arthur, and a few others have been announced.

The full lineup of the Canmore Folk Music Festival (July 30- August 1) has been released and includes David Lindley, Etran Finatawa, Joel Plaskett, Lunch at Allen’s, and many more; last summer we attended our first CFMF and was quite impressed on all fronts.

Blueberry Bluegrass (July 29-31) at Stony Plain features The Grascals, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Marty Stuart, Connie Smith, and several Canadian bluegrass bands.

The Edmonton Folk Music Festival (August 4-7) has announced k.d. lang, Guy Clark, Nanci Griffith, Kila, Sarah Jarosz, and several other folk, world, and blues music acts. As well, the Del McCoury Band and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band are pairing up at Gallagher Hill.

Neither Red Deer’s own Central Music Fest (August 12-14) nor Carstairs’ Mount View Music Fest (August 5-7) have revealed their lineups, but those announcements should be forthcoming soon.

This week’s disc review:

Ralph Stanley

A Mother’s Prayer

Rebel Records

At 84, Ralph Stanley’s voice recalls a previous time, a time that many of us — despite our reading, research, and listening — cannot imagine.

Stanley is rock-steady mountain and his faith is as steadfast; he never sounds more natural as when searching for life’s truths in songs of worship.

Celebrating 40 years recording for Rebel, with his latest recording the patriarch of contemporary Appalachian music goes to the true roots of his music to explore sacred songs and unadorned ballads.

Some of songs may have been brought to North America by settlers. These ancient tunes — Prince of Peace and Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb — are the spine of the album, supporting the wonderful music surrounding them.

Ballads tell stories of fateful fires (Come All Ye Tenderhearted) and errant sons (A Mother’s Prayer), and these compelling tales — with faith at their core — are sure to appeal to bluegrass fans. Stanley has the rare ability, like Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard, to make such stories sound as though they were pulled from his own experiences.

Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys, as they always do, support and complement their legendary leader. Select tracks have fire in their instrumentation (He Suffered for My Reward, Let Him Into Your Heart, and especially That Home Far Away) where elsewhere (Life Him Up, That’s All) the framing provided is subtle enough to almost be missed.

For those who can think of nothing finer than a cappella Stanley, a trio of such numbers is included including John the Revelator and That Wonderful Place. A few of the songs, including What Kind of Man, have previously been recorded by Stanley with a couple new songs presented here for the first time.

What sounds sweeter than bluegrass gospel? In the hands and voice of Ralph Stanley, bluegrass gospel seldom sounds more sincere and enjoyable.

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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