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Rotary Dragon Boat Festival entertainment among many highlights this week

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Festival season continues in Lethbridge with  the annual Rotary Dragon boat Festival featuring a three busy days of local entertainment at Henderson lake Park.
Dragon boats.The Chevelles are among the many local acts playing the Rotary Dragon Boat Races this weekend. Photo by Richard Amery
 The usual suspects are performing this year. Country singer Dusty Dee Litchfield opens the festival at 6 p.m., Friday, June 22, followed by the opening ceremonies at 6 p.m.. Scott Davidson‘s Chinook High Rock and pop program play at 6:30. But the big act of  the day are local classic rockers the Chevelles who play two sets beginning at 7:15, with a break at 9 for the Desert Wind belly Dancers.
Things start early the next day at 11 a.m. with Dory and the Weathermen opening up the day, Saturday, June 23. The Rose ceremony is at noon.
Calgary bluesman Eric Braun follows at 12:30 p.m. followed by Hibikaya drummers at 1:30 p.m.
Winnipeg born, White Rock based musician Sketch is on at 2 p.m.

Young local songwriter Nicole Donaghy Hughes performs at 3 p.m. and local ’90s aficionados Uncovered are on at 3:30 p.m.
 Exisdance show their best moves at 4:30, while local funk rock trio Adequate get funky at 5 p.m..

 For a break, the Rocky Mountain Cloggers perform at 6 p.m. and Suite 33 will rock your socks off at 6:30 p.m.. The Desert Wind Belly Dancers perform at  7:30 while county musician Cody Hall and punk band 13 to Go get ready to rock from 8 p.m. until close.

The Dragon boat festival winds up on Sunday, beginning with  the E Free band at 11 a.m. and folk/ roots singer songwriter Karen Romanchuk  performing at noon.
 The Chinook High School rock and pop band return at 12:30 followed by country pop band Alyssa McQuaid and Coyote Junction at 1:30 p.m.
After a Kung Fu demonstration by Lethbridge Hung Sing Koon Kung Fu Academy, Medicine Hat Duo Mahoney bring the show to a close at 3 p.m.
But there is a lot more than just Dragon boats happening this week.

Pridefest activities continue throughout the week.
 The Smokehouse features a big hip hop and rap show with Locksmith and  My Name  Is Junk from SDK who headline a big night of rap beginning at  8p.m. . There will be local support from Trey Mark,Pyke, J lately, Project TRYBE, J-Reds Hip Hop, JPB, ONTK, $ammy and the Fiend and a freestyle  battle at 8;30 p.m. at 8 p.m., June 21 Tickets are $20
 There is a big alternative rock show courtesy of Norwegian blue Records with local duo Cope and London/Guelph’s Whoop-Szo who blend folk, metal, pop and even classical music. The bands begin at  8 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance $15 at the door.

 In Cahoots host this weeks open mic at the Slice, on Thursday, June 21 as well.
 While Average Joes relived the ’80s this past week, this week is about reliving the ’90s and ’00s as Blind Melon and Eve 6 play a double bill, Friday, June 22. The show begins at 8:30 p.m. sharp. Tickets are $45 in advance $50 on the day of the show.


Ann Vriend bringing own band to Lethbridge

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Edmonton based R and B/jazz and pop singer/songwriter Ann Vriend returns to Lethbridge to play a special ticketed event at the Owl Acoustic lounge with her band.
 Vriend, who usually plays with jazz pianist  Rooster Davis, will be able to showcase their own music.

“I don’t play a lot with Rooster anymore. I’ve been so busy playing as a duo or trio shows,” she said, adding she is spending a lot of time touring in Japan as a duo.

Ann Vriend brings her band to Lethbridge this week. Photo by Richard Amery
“Pop is a pretty broad term. I sing more R and B and soul music,” said Vriend, boarding a plane to Scotland.

“I’m playing  six shows for the Ottawa Tourism board, I’m part of the entertainment,” she enthused, adding she got that gig  through knowing the organizer who also used to co-ordinate similar tourism events in Edmonton.


Blind Melon is much more than “No Rain”

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There is a lot more to Los Angeles ’90s rock band Blind Melon than their biggest hit “ No Rain,” which can be frustrating for the band, who come to Average Joes, June 22 with Eve 6.Blind Melon play Lethbridge this week. Photo submitted
“You’ve summarized it perfectly,” observed Pennsylvania born guitarist Chris Thorn, who formed  the band in 1990 with  guitarist Rogers Stevens, bassist Brad Smith and drummer Glen Graham, who grew up in the same area of Mississippi plus Indiana born lead singer Shannon Hoon, who sadly passed away in 1995 of a drug overdose while on tour.
“It is a little frustrating. (Being mainly recognized for No Rain) But I’d rather have a hit than not have one. That was the weirdest song on the album,” he said.

“Brad (Smith, bassist) was playing that song before Blind Melon was even a band. He was playing it while busking on Venice Beach. He didn’t know it was going to be a hit when he brought it to the band. Even the record company missed it. But the fans liked it, so it became a hit,” he recalled. Equally identifiable with Blind Melon is the video for “No Rain” featuring a girl dressed in a bee costume.

“When we were young and didn’t have any money, we used to hang out in each others basements.  We spent a lot of time in the south. So one time we were jamming in Glenn’s basement and there was an old  picture of his sister in the bee costume for Halloween. It reminded us of all the times our parents dressed us in stupid costumes. But we thought that’s a great album cover image,” he said.

“Of course that isn’t the same girl in the video, because the picture was taken in the ’70s. But we held auditions and found a girl (Heather DeLoach) who looked exactly like her. She’s an incredible actress. She almost became bigger than us, but we didn’t mind because she was helping us sell records,” he said.

“ I remember we were scheduled to play Jay Leno, and he interviewed her and we didn’t even get to play,” he chuckled.
The band members went on to other projects after Blind Melon split after Hoon’s death. Chris Thorn and Brad Smith started producing records for other artists, which is how they met future new lead singer Travis Warren.

“We hadn’t planned on reforming. It happened really organically when we produced this kid Travis Warren’s record. Brad said ‘he can sing Blind Melon songs in his sleep.’ He (Travis) said he was the biggest  fan of ours. He knew more about the band than we did,” Thorn said, adding when they asked him to play with him and he fit right in. They recorded a new album with him in 2007, called “ For My Friends,” which was released in 2008,  but they likely won’t be playing anything from it.


Eve 6 blend Fitness by borrowing drummer

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Eve 6 front man/ bassist Max Collins is looking forward to taking a break from his new band Fitness to play Lethbridge with Blind Melon at Average Joes, June 22.Eve 6 play Average Joes this week. Photo submitted
 The Los Angeles  based pop/punk trio Eve 6, recently parted ways with drummer Tony Fagenson, but fortunately They picked up Fitness drummer beautiful Ben (Big Steve) Hillzinger to play with Eve 6.

“ I’m not 100 per cent sure why Tony left. He had other projects he wanted to focus on. But he‘s happy, so we’re happy,” Collins said, adding Hillzinger was the first choice to replace him.

“He’s already playing with me (and AWOL Nations’  Kenny Carkeet who is also in Fitness), so it worked out perfectly. because I’m doing a lot of work with Fitness and there are a lot of one off dates with Eve 6 and he’s already here. Plus he’s a great drummer. We’ve played  about 12 shows with him. We had one rehearsal before them and he nailed them,” Collins continued.

 He can’t recall having played Lethbridge  before.
”Remind me where that is. It doesn’t ring any bells, but we did a lot of dead of winter touring in Canada where the only thing you’re thinking about is not  freezing,“ he said.

“ We do love touring Canada. When we’re there, we always ask ourselves why we don’t live there. We have that kind of love affair with Canada,” he said, adding expect to hear a fun show.

“We‘re playing  all of our favourites from all of the albums so it‘s a little selfish. But fortunately, most of them are also the fans’ favourites,” he said, noting ‘Amphetamines’ from the second album ‘Horrorscope,” “Open Road” from their first Cd, ‘Think Twice’ from their third album ‘All in your Head’ and ‘Curtain’ from their most recent, 2012 album  Speak in Code” are among his favourites to play.
‘Curtain’ is the lone song from that (new) album that we’ll be playing,” he said.


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