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L.A. Beat

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RV expo, AG expo and Home and Garden Show postponed by three weeks due to Covid restrictions

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Exhibition Park is postponing three major events for a few weeks due to Covid 19 restrictions.

The Southern Alberta RV Expo has been rescheduled to Feb. 25 – March 6, 2021 from the original date of Feb. 4-14.
AG-Expo and Northern American Seed Fair has been postponed to March 17-19, 2021 from the original date of Feb. 24 – 26.
 And Mike Warkentin. Photo by Richard Amerythe Southern Alberta Home & Garden Show will now take place April 7-10, 2021 from the original date of  March 17-20.

 “ So many of these local businesses rely on these shows every year, so we’ve giving them as much opportunity to adjust,” said Mike Warkentin, Chief Operating Officer of Lethbridge & District Exhibition, estimating the postponement will affect approximately 600 local businesses.


Here's to the best of a bad year: Good riddance 2020

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This year has been the best year of my life. I was in three plays, had three art shows, went back to school and the Allied Arts Council presented me with the Mayors Award for Individual Excellence, as L.A.Uncovered playing  Halloween at Pop’s Pub South. Photo By Richard Amery Beat celebrated 10 years of supporting and covering Lethbridge’s amazing arts and entertainment scene.

 Wait a minute, that was last year. Thanks to Covid 19, 2020 has been an apocalyptic, puritanical nightmare where there’s no singing, dancing or live music or entertainment allowed, where live music venues, theatres, art galleries, restaurants and bars were forced to close for “ the greater good.”

And just like in the Greek myth of Sisyphus who was forced to push a rock up a mountain  as a punishment for trying to cheat death, only to have it roll back to the bottom and force him to do it all over again for eternity,  just when it looked like things were under control in September and things cautiously started to open up again and it might look like things would get back to normal, the second spike hit and, as predicted, things got a lot worse.

I’m not a medical, epidemiology or virology expert, but every graduate of Facebook university has become one. Perhaps spouting and repeating conspiracy theories helps them cope. We have all been doing our best just to survive a year that has seemed to last forever. Before you share something you saw on Facebook or Youtube, or get after someone who has a different opinion about how to deal with unprecedented times, just remember people have their own agendas. Someone, somewhere is making money off not only your fear but your paranoia. It sure isn’t me. It's been exhausting being inundated by it all.

I knew 2020 was going tPeter and the Wolved playing behind pexiglass. Photo by Richard Ameryo be a challenge. I went back to school as planned in January, but had to postpone it to take care of some serious family issues. I continued singing lessons and even had my first audition for New West Theatre’s production of Dear Johnny Deere. I didn’t get the part but it was worth it for the experience.

I missed auditions for Shakespeare’s in the Park’s Merry Wives of Windsor as I went on the Outlaw Country Cruise from Miami to the Florida Keys to Jamaica and back at the end of February. For my live music fix of the year, I saw Steve Earle, the Waco Brothers, the Mavericks, Supersuckers, Bottle Rockets and NRBQ and got back just as everything was shutting down because of Covid. I got to fulfill a long term dream of overcoming my stage fright to play Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Stolen Horses” on stage in front of people in the same venue as Ray Wylie Hubbard, who was on the boat, but wasn’t in the audience as he was preparing for his show right after the jam. He actually got a request for “Stolen Horses,” though he said he couldn’t remember how to play it. And that was the highlight of a year that was a big bag of suck.

 The rest of the year was spent taking care of my dad, taking care of his business, getting him settled into his new place, hiking in the coulees, reading a lot and doing a few much neglected home improvement projects.
 This is where it is most important to count blessings. Covid has been devastating senior’s residences all over the country. Thanks to the efforts of the staff and some strict health precautions, my dad’s residence has thankfully been Covid free, knock on wood. So has my aunt‘s residence. I’ve also been relatively healthy and so have my friends and family.
 A lot of people took the opportunity of forced downtime and CERB payments to re-evaluate their lives and come up with their second acts. I didn’t. I probably should have, but we all cope in our own ways.

 To quote Ray Wylie Hubbard “ The days I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, I have really good days.”

When it looks like the world is falling apart, people turn to art. Just think of all the music you listened to during the lockdown and the TV and movies you binge watched. None of that would have been possible without artists.

Artists are resilient. They have to be at the best of times. This year they were forced to use all their creative muscles and adapt like they never have had to adapt before.
 Local artists like Gabe Thaine opted to do regular online performances throughout the summer. Pop up concerts were popular all over the city when the weather was nice. Michael Bernard  Fitzgerald opened his “Greenbriar” tent  tour in Lethbridge, playing a late announced show at  a farm outside of town, which almost immediately sold out. Country star Gord Bamford had to pivot after cancelling his massive Rednek arena tour. He opted to do a smaller drive-in tour in July , where people could watch he and his band play their many hits from the comfort of their vehicles. The tour was designed to raise money for mental health organizations in all his tour stops. Their Exhibition Park show raised money for Woods Homes and Lethbridge and District Family Services.

 A lot of other artists took advantage of downtime to create new music. Starpainter, Brenna Lowrie, Skinny Dyck, Taylor Ackerman’s Global Acid Reset, Corb Lund and Dark Wrangler were among numerous local bands who released new music during the pandemic. Those were just the ones I heard. Local punk band Berserker also has a new CD out, but I haven’t had a chance to hear it yet.


Farmer's market returns to Exhibition park this weekend

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Farmer’s Markets return to Exhibition Park this  Saturday, May 23. But there are a lot of rules that need to be followed to ensure patrons’ safety from Covid.
The Market will run in the North Pavilion 9 a.m. to  2 p.m. every Saturday. It will expand to the main pavilion
 Priority access is offered to seniors and people with disabilities from 9 -9:30 a.m.

“As we continue to navigate and adjust to the new normal, we are excited to be able to serve our community, while supporting local producers and exhibitors through the 50th anniversary of the Farmers’ Market at Exhibition Park.

We know that many people are concerned about food availability and accessing it in a safe manner. As such, we are making every effort to be adaptive and responsive during this time. As always, our top priority is creating an environment in which our guests, exhibitors and employees are safe. We continue to work closely with our local contacts at Alberta Health Services, the Alberta Farmers Market Association, Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Response and are committed to remaining up to date on any COVID 19 announcements from the Government of Alberta as they relate to any aspect of the delivery of the Farmers’ Market.


Kindred spirits and six toed cats on Outlaw Country Cruise 5

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I have been MIA for the past week on a much needed vacation cruising with kindred spirits from all over the world, but mostly from the U.S.. The Outlaw Country Cruise, sponsored by Sirius XM’s  Outlaw country, is an excellent opportunity to visit places I’ve never been and see some of my favouriThe Waco Brothers on the Outlaw Country Cruise. Photo by Richard Ameryte bands who never play here. As Texan born/ New York based songwriter Outlaw Country host Steve  “Copperhead Road,” “Someday” Earle noted, “ When you’re from New York, it does not suck to be on a cruise ship in January. The same goes for being from Lethbridge.

While I missed auditions for Shakespeare in the Park’s summer production of the Merry Wives of Windsor, One Bad Son and Eamon McGrath’s ’s return to Lethbridge, I did not miss the latest bout of snow, cold and wind, though I returned in time for the next bout of all of them. I also did not miss people complaining about the latest health scare, Trump, Trudeau and traffic. The Outlaw Country Cruise is literally a departure from all that.

 This year, we departed from Miami en route to the Florida Keys to Jamaica and back from Jan. 29-  Feb. 3 and it was fabulous. In addition to non-stop music on board, there were day trips to war correspondent and renown author Ernest Hemingway’s house in the Florida Keys, a former naval base that has been repurposed into expensive condominiums. I saw Hemingway’s study where he wrote “A Farewell To Arms” and “Old Man And the Sea. Six toed cats, the descendants of Hemingway’s original pets wove their way through the legs of hordes of tourists crammed into Hemingway’s rooms, listening to a bellicose guide relate a well rehearsed diatribe about Hemingway’s life and wives. A six toed cat at Ernest Hemingway’s house. Photo by Richard Amery

The cats even crawled onto Hemingway’s bed to get their bellies scratched by adoring tourists.
 I also got to visit Jamaica, particularly reggae legend Bob Marley’s home. His home town of Nine Mile has become a tourist trap with residents eager to sell trinkets, T-shirts, pot brownies and some of the most massive bombers I’ve ever seen to tourists eager to take in a slice of reggae and music history in the land of homegrown fun. You can photograph everything except the inside of the mausoleums of Marley who died at 37 of melanoma cancer and his younger brother who was killed by police in Miami in 1990 and a separate mausoleum for his mother, who are all buried on site next to a tiny chapel.

I had to do it. It’s so important to take some time to disengage, set the brain to neutral and just enjoy the ride instead of being overwhelmed by the trials and tribulations.
I listen to bands even hipsters have never heard of, so it is just cool to share a knowing grin with somebody else wearing a Govt. Mule T-shirt.

As usual, I return home with a bag full of new music discovered on the boat including new bands, familiar faces with new bands and people I haven’t heard of — yet. I found a great band call the Yayhoos featuring Dan Baird of the Georgia Satellites. Baird also played bass with Jason and the Scorchers’ Warner Hodges this trip and fronts Dan Baird and Homemade Sin which also features Hodges and who were on the boat last year as well as with his band.

Elizabeth Cook on the Outlaw Country Cruise. Photo by Richard Amery
  I found another great band called the Waco Brothers, who add more of a Celtic feel to country rock music and still remind me of Edmonton punks the Raygun Cowboys. As a bonus , they feature the coolest, most groovingest bassist I’ve ever seen. And Jesse Malin, who was in a band called D Generation in the late ’90s opening for Green Day. Now he’s gone country—ish.

I had to pick up an old Bottle Rockets live CD and a new Supersuckers CD and Jason Ringenberg’s new solo Cd. You can hear them all on my radio shows on CKXU  Disco Sucks Punkin Old School, Wednesdays from 10 a.m.- midnight and Saturday night’s Hotrock blues Beat 8-10 p.m.

I love seeing these new bands as much as I love hearing the Mavericks, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Bottle Rockets, Robbie Fulks and other cats I  signed up to see.


Good times and pleasant memories in 2019

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 The thing about a year, is you never know where you will end up by the end of it. No matter how carefully you plan your life, life itself has its own plans. There is always something, be it family issues, changes in employment status and financial status, or just discovering a new inspiration that clears a new path. But it is always up to you whether to take the new path or stay on the same road.
2019 has been really busy and fulfilling year fraught with freak snowstorms and rain.

Most of my life over the past 10 years has been intertwined with L.A. Beat — that and helping my dad in the city.

 I started L.A. BeThe Arkells were a highlight of whoop Up Days in 2019. Photo by Rchard Ameryat with a lot of help from my webmaster cousin Rod, two days after the Lethbridge Herald laid me off right before Easter in April 2009. Ten years operating your own business is a monumental  and exhausting achievement, and an almost thankless task  financially, but fulfilling in all other ways.

 I didn’t think Lethbridge’s arts community was getting the recognition it deserves and still don’t. I’ve done my best to fill that niche. In  the midst, of everything, the Allied Arts Council gave me the Mayor‘s award for individual excellence at the Mayor’s Luncheon in September. Thank you to everybody for reading my ramblings and , more importantly, supporting the arts in Lethbridge, because I can’t do what I do without you doing what you do.

 So I wanted to mark 10 years of covering arts in Lethbridge on  L.A. Beat by becoming a bigger part of the arts community.
I got to act with three of the major community theatre troupes in Lethbridge, beginning with breaking in the newly renovated Sterndale Bennett Theatre. I played a bit part in Playgoers of Lethbridge’s production of Where’s Oscar in February. Right after that, I played the therapist Ernie in Hatrix Theatre’s production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors,” at another new venue, the McNally School.
 And hot on the heels of that joined the Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society’s production of Macbeth, which was a blast, though plagued by inclement weather.
 I even got up on stage to sing and perform a couple of times. I always enjoy being part of The Lethbridge Girls Rock Camp Band Swap fundraiser so took the stage at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, June 8, joining Mandy Fox and Amberlea Parker aka two thirds of Mombod and Chris Hibbard on vocals. I got to play bass, guitar and cigar box guitar for that show.
I wanted to show off some of my favourite photos  from the past 10 years of L.A. Beat.
 Darcy Logan let me have an exhibition of some of my 3- D photos at Casa in May, which was very cool. I had a lot of fun splashing paint on some of my favourite photos and turning them 3-D by pasting cardboard behind parts of them.
 And because I spend a lot of time at the Slice listening to music, Slice owner Derek Hoyle let me put up a couple dozen of my favourite shots at the Slice over the past 10 years.
 On top of everything else, I went back to school in September for a second degree in masochism … er management and new media.
 The New Media 1000 class installed a show at the Dr. Penny Foster Building in November, so I put up another pic, which I didn’t get printed in time for the Slice show at the Dr. Penny Foster Building instead.

 I started off the year by starting singing lessons with my wonderfully talented and supportive friend, inspiration and muse Andi Roberts. A single mom teaching singing full time while going back to school, she inspired me to tackle university as a mature student.
 Going back to school was a path I hadn’t really considered seriously. I already booked this January’s vacation, not thinking it might conflict with classes in the Spring. But freelance income dried up to pretty much nothing, about the same time I decided to apply to the U of L.
 But I did it, and pulled some decent marks considering I’m trying to run a business at the same time and help my dad every week in Calgary.
 Along the way, I acted in three plays, had three art shows and saw a lot of great bands.

As always, I was impressed with young new bands like Biloxi Parish, The Cayley, Fawns, Dead Army, The Decadent Phase and numerous other which seemed to form every month. A new ’50s pop band called Frankie and The Bridge Mix were a highlight.

I got to see some of my favourite bands play Lethbridge usually at the Slice like the Wild!, D.O.A. the Dayglo Abortions, Peter and the Wolves, Tin and the Toad and discovered lots of new touring folk and roots acts like Richard Inman and Ellen Froese. Winnipeg country musician Sean Burns became a familiar face in Lethbridge playing all over the city pretty much every other month.

 D.O.A. headlined the most eclectic bill of the year for a packed Slice, May 21. I missed local folk/ country musician Tyson Ray Borsboom. Everyone was there for Indie-pop singer Mike Edel and most had trickled away by the time Vancouver hardcore legends D.O.A. took the stage. They were still done by midnight though.Jolene Draper stands on Steve Martin’s bass. Photo by Richard Amery

 Five Alarm Funk made a long awaited return to the Slice, June 25.
 Eve Hell and the Razors also made a long awaited return to play more rockabilly.

 B.A. Johnson brought the funny for a couple of packed shows at the Owl Acoustic Lounge. The Owl was pretty much consistently packed for most of their shows. The return of folk trio Fates were one of my favourites. Jody Peck and Sarah Burton finally returned to the Owl Acoustic Lounge to play a great show for a handful of people, which was a shame.

 Due to family issues, I missed a final show from Hollerado and a few concerts I really wanted to see at the Geomatic Attic like Del Barber. I did catch one of my favourite touring road shows — Barney Bentall’s Grand Cariboo Express featuring Bentall, Leeroy Stagger, Matt Masters, Dustin Bentall, RIdley Bent and a lot more. Jimmy Rankin played two sold out shows at the Geomatic Attic
 The Folk Club found a new leader in Tom Moffat, so I caught a few outstanding shows there from folks like Tri-Continental, Old Man Luedecke. Earlier in the year, Ken Hamm return to blow some people away with fretboard wizardry, April 27.

 Shaela Miller’s Windy City Opry celebrated three years at the Slice with great acts like Zachary Lucky and Peter and the Wolves.
Mike Spencer’s Wide Skies Music Festival also turned three this summer.  He brought in some exceptional talent including Danny Michel, Harry Manx and Steve Marriner and Cousin Harley, who were outstanding as usual.
The Owl featured a variety of different music from folk and country like  to alternative rock and punk like Vancouver’s the Jins and a great stoner rock show featuring Chron Goblin and Black Mastiff.

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