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L.A. Beat

Word On the Street 2023 celebrates all things words with music and much more

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Word on the Street  was the  usual celebration of all things related to the written word including music, Sept. 23 outside the Lethbridge Public Library.

Tara MacLean speaking at Word On the Street. Photo by Richard Amery

 I threaded my way through an assortment of tables offering opportunities to create art to get to the stage for local children's band  The band Formerly Known as Karen, Lewis and pam aka KLP

The casa clay demonstration was underway and the woodturners  guild were hard at work creating objects out of wood.

 Local children’s band The band Formerly Known as Karen, Lewis and pam aka KLP, were warming up an enthusiastic crowd of kids and adults alike as I arrived.

They were playing a spirited set of originals and children’s favourites.


The band Formerly Known as Karen, Lewis and Pam At Word On the Street. Photo by Richard Amery

I arrived in the middle of their grocery store  improv song lead by Ash Thomson, as Jillian Bracken and Gabe Olsen held down the harmonies and music,  with Olsen playing keyboards and guitar. Steve Martin and Brad Brouwer held down the rhythm  on bass and drums respectively.


 They played a Raffi song about  beluga whales and broke out puppets for another song, before playing an original song about burgers.

They played their usual fun set. How could it not be otherwise with Ash Thomson pulling out her slide whistle.

 Bailey Kate and a trimmed down  Starpainter had a busy Word on the Street. They Backed Bailey Kate to open the afternoon, but I missed that set.

 I caught a trimmed down Starpainter as Joel Stretch,  lead guitarist Joel Gray and  Bailey Kate ran though several songs from their latest CD Rattlesnake Dream.


 They also had a separate busking stage. Karen Romanchuk  was among the local performers  playing there.

Sign Language interpretation for Tara MacLean’s set at Word On the Street. Photo by Richard Amery

I stopped by  German -Canadian Author Phillip’s Schott’s tent where he was reading  the latest  in his series of vet/ detective Dr. Bannerman’s latest adventure “ Six Ostriches.”


He read a few excerpts from the book and fielded questions about being a vet and being a German Canadian whose family moved to Winnipeg  after the Second World War.


 I timed my visit to Word on the Street to see Juno award winning songwriter Tara MacLean, who was also part of pop supergroup Shaye With Kim Stockwood and Dahmnait Doyle about 20 years ago. 


She didn't have the audience she deserved, but those who were there were enraptured. MacLean’s new memoir “ Song Of the Sparrow,” became an almost instant best seller since  she released it on March. She read from it and played d a few songs, but was  being drowned out by  DanAlie, whose voices were carrying across the parking lot. She apologized  for asking to be  turned up, saying “ I don’t want to compete with anybody.

 She read from the memoir and  talked about turning 50 and about meeting a guy in Britain while on tour recently. She played a new song about that as well as  “ Song of the Sparrow.”

She, like many of the presenting authors, had a  sign language interpreter  for the readings and in MacLean’s case her songs. That worked in conjunction with another volunteer typing a transcript of the discussion.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. beat Editor

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