With a strong lineup of local and Western Canadian performers from almost every genre — blues, world, country, roots, jazz and rock — the third annual Central Music Festival goes next weekend, Aug. 14 and 15, at a site north of the city.
Twenty-six acts are slated over Friday evening and all day Saturday with Gordie Tentrees — a rising talent on the Canadian roots scene — kicking things off Friday at 5 p.m. Also appearing are The Amos Garrett Trio, Steve Coffey and the Lokels, Crystal Plamondon, Honeyboy Edwards, Ndidi Onikwulu and more. Tickets available at the Black Knight Inn and Valhalla Pure Outfitters.
Next month, an evening of Canadian roots music with Lynn Miles and Melanie Doane headlining a songwriter circle with up-and-coming songstresses Annabelle Chvostek and Catherine MacLellan. Slated for the Memorial Centre on Sept. 16, tickets for Sirens of Songs are available at the Black Knight Inn outlet.
This week’s reviews:
Mercy or Sin
With Mercy or Sin, Gordie Tentrees again brings a northern perspectives to the roots community. A Whitehorse resident, Tentrees surrounds himself with the finest area musicians, and their contributions make the album a fully-realized amalgam of country, folk, and blues inspired music.
Comparisons to Fred Eaglesmith are common when discussing Tentrees, and they are not unfair. Like Eaglesmith, Tentrees writes of common events, exaggerating the emotion or intensity of the situation with lyrical licence. A tune like Devil Talks would fit on Eaglesmith’s Tinderbox album of last year.
In Carpenter Girl, Tentrees captures the object of his attention in a manner that is apparent yet inspired — “Dresses up for pilsner, got Alberta in her veins … like all good songs leaves me wanting more.”
Tentrees’s voice is not as grizzled as Eaglesmith’s, with a populist smoothness that serves him well. Distancing Tentrees from being just another voice heard along dusty roads is a touch of personality that shades his delivery of humourous and insightful couplets.
Along with the quality of his songwriting, the focus of his backing band is impressive.
Ken Hermanson’s banjo and Tentrees’s staccato singing provide No Integrity Man with a Danny Barnes/Bad Livers vibe that is compounded by Ed White’s drumming.
It has been six years since Rhonda Vincent released a thoroughly satisfying album.
While expertly crafted, the bluegrass queen’s discs have sounded a little too perfect, glossy but unmemorable.
The streak ends with Destination Life, the mandolinist’s sixth album of new material in a decade. While her formula remains consistent — ballads charged with outstanding fiddle and guitar embellishments balanced by catchy, up-tempo bluegrass shakers — this new set is more engaging than Vincent’s recent discs. Perhaps this is a result of Hunter Berry sitting in the co-producer’s chair this time out.
Berry’s fiddling is sharp, especially on country influenced tunes including the classic Stop the World (And Let Me Off) and I Can Make Him Whisper I Love You. What a Woman Wants to Hear swings along, buoyed by Berry’s sawing and Mickey Harris’s bounding bass lines.
I Heard My Saviour Calling Me finds the band reveling in a message of salvation. The multipart, note perfect harmonies on the chorus balance out Vincent’s slightly exaggerated closing vocalizations.
Berry does the heavy lifting on Eighth of January, while new Rage five-stringer Aaron McDaris contributes memorable licks; the entire band is showcased to excellent effect on this standard. McDaris similarly comes to the fore on Poco’s Crazy Love, instilling the song with a banjo-centric focus.
While Vincent has had recent career challenges — namely the exiting of seasoned band members — with Destination Life she produces an album that appeals on many levels.
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 email@example.com