I’m certain clever Western Canadian folksinger Ben Sures has played thousands of shows, and while I’ve only seen a couple of them, I’m equally sure that he has never disappointed his audience. Sures visits The Velvet Olive on Feb. 27.
The next night, one of the hottest bands in bluegrass — The Lonesome River Band — is brought to Festival Hall by the Waskasoo Bluegrass Music Society. With a string of No. 1 hits, the Sammy Shelor led group is most likely to draw a crowd.
Advance tickets ($25) are at 53rd Street Music, Parkland Mall, the Key Hole, Red Deer Book Exchange, Jackson’s in Innisfail, and Novel Ideas in Rocky Mountain House. Don’t be afraid to pop in at the door for the 7 p.m. show — they’ll fit you in.
Alberta bluesman Mark Sterling brings the Songs of John Lennon to the Matchbox on March 6. Tickets ($25) at the theatre and Ticketmaster.
Canadian folksinger Stephen Fearing, one of Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, comes to the Elks Lodge on March 19 with tickets ($30) at the Black Knight Inn and Valhalla Pure Outfitters. Irish singer Andy White opens.
A Case of Blues — featuring the music of the Blues Brothers — has a three-night run planned for the Matchbox from April 15 to 17; tickets $25.
Finally, Duane Steele goes acoustic for a pair of shows at the Matchbox on June 10 and 11; tickets $25.
This week’s disc reviews:
k.d. lang & the reclines
A Truly Western Experience — 25th Anniversary Edition
I stopped listening to k.d. lang in the mid-’90s. Prior to that, she released fresh, challenging country music; it all started with an explosive live show and a little seven-inch white vinyl single.
For a brief time in the mid-’80s, there wasn’t a hotter ticket in Edmonton, and I recall that in the weeks following the release of A Truly Western Experience, amidst the Madonna, Howard Jones and Michael Jackson albums, the most in-demand record was the blue album with the collage barnyard.
This new 15-track issue, fleshed out with live tracks from a 1985 concert, a demo and the aforementioned single — including the b-side, the first-rate Damned Old Dog — is artfully packaged and focuses attention on the lang back-story, before the Junos and Dave Edmunds, before Nashville, Roy Orbison, the Grammys, PETA, Vanity Fair and Tony Bennett.
While mildly disappointing when first heard in 1984, 25 years brings perspective to the original nine tracks that were A Truly Western Experience. It was a darn fine little platter and announced lang as the anti-Barbara Mandrell.
The lively tracks were most enjoyed; playing at rockabilly with Bopalena and bopping country on Hanky Panky, lang was the poster child for those who loved vintage everything and Patsy Cline. The populist appeal of Stop, Look, and Listen was and remains magnetic. Even with its range of tempos and styles, few knew that Pine and Stew and Busy Being Blue hinted at her future as a cosmopolitan crooner.
The live tracks, especially the addictive Johnny Get Angry, flashes one back to the Dinwoodie Lounge on the University of Alberta campus, witnessing the development of a star in cut-down cowboy boots, a fringed shirt and those glasses.
And if you missed it the first time, the bonus 3-track DVD will fling you to 1984 quicker than you would expect.
Rhythm & Blues
It’s claimed that Willie Dixon said, “Blues is the roots, all the rest is the fruits.”
And what fruits these are! This 12-track compilation of modern and traditional R&B — the pre-’90s definition of the term — is 40 minutes of toe-tapping sounds most of us will have missed.
From 1972 and The Emotions comes My Honey and Me, as pure a slice of yearning one can hope to enjoy on a Saturday night. From about a year ago we have Irma Thomas giving promise and hope on River is Waiting. In between, folk fest favourites including Ruthie Foster, James Hunter and Sharon Jones give lessons in what R&B really means; check out The Quantic Soul Orchestra featuring Kabir’s Who Knows.
Like most Putumayo albums, this disc reveals music one has never experienced; this disc’s find is Catherine Russell, a Berklee professor who soulfully channels Sam Cooke to memorable effect.
Also in rotation this week: Ruth Purves Smith — Out in the Storm; Reckless Kelly — Somewhere in Time; The Coal Porters — Durango; Kasey Anderson — Nowhere Nights; Meg Hutchinson — The Living Side.
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