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Lethbridge music scene mourns Randy Shaver and James ‘DJ Booda’ Nishima

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It has been a terrible week for Lethbridge’s music community. Two stalwart pillars of the community have passed away this week way too young — Randy Shaver and James ‘DJ Booda’ Nishima.

James Nishima, best known as DJ Booda passed away suddenly Aug 28. He will be missed by a lot of people. He inspired numerous local performers and basically kickstarted Lethbridge’s hip hop scene. In addition to being a fantastic  DJ, he was not afraid to dream. He brought in a variety of high profile acts including well known rappers like D12, Riff Raff, Deezuz, Randy Shaver playing at Bigwood in 2010. Photo by Richard AmeryMadchild, Swollen Members, Moka Only, Kyprios, Snoop Dogg, just to name a few. He also brought in up and coming rockers like Dragonette and well known names like 54-40, Matthew Good, Finger Eleven and Gob. In doing so he brought a taste of the big city excitement to our small town. And by doing so thumbed his nose at those who would denigrate Lethbridge as Deathbridge.

As any local concert promoter knows, it takes cajones of stone to put on a show in Lethbridge because you never know if people will show up in last minute Lethbridge. Booda knew this and while I’m sure he had his moments of self doubt — moments where he almost decided to quit, fortunately for us he didn’t. Lethbridge is better for it.

He probably lost his shirt on a couple of his shows. I have been to many of his shows in which I couldn’t believe there were so few people in the room and I’d been to to others where there were so many people I couldn’t breathe. But at each one, Booda was there at the door to greet me with a big smile and welcoming arms. And always, the entertainment was fantastic. Booda knew how to put on a party. I had the pleasure of interviewing him a couple times. He was always genial, friendly and most of all excited. His excitement was contagious.

He was an unbelievably hard worker, he had four big shows of all different genres ready to go in September and October alone — Gob with Sophmore Jakes, Sept. 20-, Twiztid with Blaze Ya Dead and Aqualeo, Sept. 21 Sloan on Sept. 26 and The Cancer Bats and Bat Sabbath on Oct. 5. Madchild of Swollen Members is returning to Lethbridge, Sept. 25 to play a memorial show for Booda at Studio 54.
  I never really appreciated rap music until his shows gave me the opportunity to interview some of the biggest names in the business. No matter who it was, they would invariably rave about how great it was to work with Booda. He expanded mine a lot of people’s musical horizons. His death leaves a huge void which will take some big shoes to fill.
A celebration of James Nishima has been scheduled for this Thursday, Sept. 5 at 2 p.m at Martin Bros Funeral Chapel 610 4th street S, Lethdridge AB T1J 4P3

Randy Shaver

 Local musician Randy Shaver passed away last week way too young, at only 43.
 Randy was one of the first people I met when I started covering music in Lethbridge for the Meliorist. He was also one of the first people I met when I moved back here, I was excited to still see him playing around town.

The early days were days when I was still a little awestruck by people in bands. I’d seen him play with his band Tinker’s Damn a couple times, then one day he showed up and hung out with all the new “res rats” at  one of the beginning of year get togethers in the university of Lethbridge residences. He sat quietly by himself. I didn’t speak to him then, being very shy and, like I said, awestruck.

 I’d go see him play with Tinker’s Damn countless times over the next four and a half years, I’d interview him and them several times. I wrote numerous articles about him and the band and took countless pictures of them. I was even the judge in a several band wars back in the day when they were among the competitors.


Salem Abraha will be remembered fondly by the Lethbridge music scene

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You never truly appreciate somebody until they’re gone.
 The Lethbridge music scene lost a prominent member of the community on the weekend as Salem Abraha passed away on Saturday from cancer.

 I didn’t know Salem well. He waSalem Abraha playing a benefit for Murray Nelson. Photo by Richard Amerys was playing solo recently, but I first got to know him when I first moved to back to  Lethbridge as part of the Ben Brown Trio.

I was immediately impressed. You never know someone as well as you’d like. We had many a chat at the countless community events and open mics he was  part of. He was always funny, very friendly, approachable, upbeat and always easygoing.

While fighting cancer, his attitude was inspiring. Anytime I saw him perform I was always blown away by his voice — a beautiful, very much pop inspired tenor. He played stunningly beautiful guitar. And he played a lot. So much so, that unfortunately he was one of the performers who I passed on seeing for other gigs. After all, there will always be next time. Right?  Unfortunately not. Sometimes there is no next time.

Because you never know. He was so young,  you always expect another gig from someone so young and exuding so much talent. I will always cherish the little time I was able to spend with Salem, and any time I  was able to hear him play and sing. He hosted open mics all over the city at the Black Tomato Lounge, Bar One and lately Bo Diddly’s. I would almost always see him playing open mics at the Owl Acoustic Lounge and the Slice. He’d welcome anyone on stage with him, even me. Though I never took him up on it. I didn’t want to follow such a magnificent voice.

 The last time I saw him was about a month ago,  I thought he looked well.  I thought he had beaten cancer once and for all.  I told him I looked forward to hearing him again. Unfortunately it was not meant to be.

It has been a tough year for the community, with other prominent faces like Murray Nelson suffering a heart attack, George Arsene undergoing serious surgery and Tom Dooley suffering from a construction accident.
The last time I saw Salem play was at a fundraiser at the Slice for Murray Nelson, put on by  a new group in town called the Harmony Foundation, whose goal is to help musicians in the community undergoing health issues.


Some of the reasons why 2012 rocked

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This coming year is already shaping up to be a good one.Greg Rekus jumps at the Owl Acoustic Lounge. Photo by Richard Amery
 Just in the next month we have Canadian Celtic punk icons the Mahones returning to the Slice, Jan 17 and a big rock show with Buck Cherry and One Bad Son, Jan 10 at Average Joes.
 The Lethbridge Folk Club already have a solid season scheduled beginning with the Lizzy Hoyt Band, Jan 19, just to name one.
 And the Geomatic Attic also has a rock solid winter season set beginning with Whitehorse returning, Jan. 30 and a lot more to come. Rival Sons have been booked to play Average Joes, Feb. 4 as well. So far next year looks like it will rock just as hard as the last year. So let’s take a look back.
It’s been a long strange year with a cornucopia of amazing shows and a lot of talented local musicians performing regularly and releasing new CDs. I can’t choose a favourite local performer because I enjoy all of them and there are so many of them, but there have been a lot of exceptional touring acts
 I’ve only caught a fraction of all of the shows happening this year, but here are a few highlights of my year.

Weirdest interview

A tie between the Real McKenzies frontman Paul McKenzie and rapper Tech N9ne.
 I don’t know a lot about rap music, but enjoy talking to rappers. Madchild is always a pleasure to talk with. However some interviews stand out. Tech N9ne began our interview by answering the phone with a long echoing Tech Niiinnnnneee then laughed at my confused response of “what the…”.
 I’m glad I finally got to see the Real McKenzies’ bagpipe powered punk music. And I’ve been a fan of Paul McKenzie since his early days playing with Vancouver punk pioneers the Enigmas. However he began our interview with a long diatribe about cleaning the mould out of his old van before beginning the Real McKenzies’ latest tour and cracked me up by describing his time with the Enigmas as a “life sentence ago.”

Which brings me to the coolest punk show.
I love a good punk show and we had several of them this year.
 I enjoyed Durban Poison’s Aug. 29 show at the Slice with the Yeah Dads and Stressed Out, Die Mannequin at Average Joes, May 22 and a high octane performance by the Motorleague, Lustre Creame and The Turncoats Nov. 17 at the Slice.
However my favourite punk show The Real McKenzies rock Bo Diddly’s. Photo by Richard Amerywas March 15 at Bo Diddley’s with the Scallywags and the Real McKenzies. How often do you get to hear bagpipes and a saxophone in a punk band playing in front of a chaotic mosh pit in front of the stage? It makes me think every punk band should have bagpipes.

Most patient classic rocker
I love chatting to classic rockers and am constantly surprised by how easygoing they are, not to mention how easy it is to get hold of them. This year I had the pleasure of talking to some of my favourite classic rock musicians including Platinum Blonde and Kim Mitchell among others. However, it was a really pleasure to chat with Nick Gilder of Sweeney Todd to advance his Nov. 1 show.

 He called me up scant hours after I e-mailed him and waited patiently on the line ( I didn’t know it was him, he just said, hello, this is Nick), while I sorted out an issue with the cell phone company who called me on the cell phone I accidentally left on.

Best classic rock show

 This is another tough one. Nazareth put on a great show at Average Joes, July 23. But even though I only caught have of it, I really enjoyed  Kim Mitchell at this year’s Whoop-Up Days, Aug. 25.


An amazing year for Lethbridge music in 2011

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It has been a pretty amazing year for Lethbridge music. A lot has happened — the opening and closure of the new Tongue N’ The Sheepdogs were a hit this year. Photo by Richard Amery Groove downtown, the re-opening of Whispers in the same spot and it’s closure, not to mention the New Year’s Eve closure of the Old York Tavern, formerly Bobby Johns.

On the other hand, new venues like the Owl Acoustic Lounge have thrived, the Slice always has wicked shows, longstanding venues like the Wolf’s Den have had excellent shows and several other venues like the Geomatic Attic and the Stone have also had a lot of highlights this year.

There have been new music festivals, like the Magnetic South Festival, Word on the Street and new venues like the NAAG Gallery which featured Shotgun Jimmie among others and lots and lots of live music.Cal Toth and friends reunited their old bands during the Mike Kuzminski benefit concert, Aug. 27. Photo by Richard Amery

 I definitely can’t choose between all of the great local bands playing throughout the year. Lethbridge’s thriving music scene continues to grow with a cornucopia of bands of all stripes and styles, most of whom played superb shows throughout the year.
A heap of new local CDs were released this year. 

And the artists played a plethora of shows including excellent performances from Karen Romanchuk, the Shaela Miller Threesome, Treeline with Sean Brewer, Phantom Creeps, Andrew Scott, Joshuah Reuben Fritz, Alyssa McQuaid, Herky Cutler, Toques and Beards, Zojo Black, Salem Abraha, the Coal Creek Boys, Leon Barr, the Moby Dicks, The Record Holder. And those are just the CDs I heard.

 Numeorus other Lethbridge bands didn’t release new CDs, but still performed frequently in the city including the Skilletlikkers and their offshoot, Rancho Deluxe. Plus Planet Telex played several times this year and Smokestack Jacks played at least once a month.

Lethbridge’s burgeoning punk, garage rock and metal scene continued to gather steam. There were excellent shows this year from Stressed Out, Enceladus, Lock N’ Load and young and upcoming talent like Shocked Standards who made an impression at several events in 2011.

There were also last shows from the Moby Dicks and “reunion shows” from the Record Holder.

 There is also a healthy jazz and blues scene in Lethbridge. Local bluesmen like Darryl Düus and Paul Kype tore the roofs off any place they played this year. And, as always there is a core of local jazz players, many involved with the Lethbidge Jazz Society. James Oldenburg, Brad Brouwer and Paul Holden always seemed to be part of any jazz gig happening in town.

 And yes, as always, there were numeorus band playing your faovurite covers playing every week at a plennitude of venues.

 As always, there have been lots of new bands playing like Dalliance Elixir and the Coal Creek Boys or reforming their lineups like Gravity Crash, just to name a few.
But there were a lot of highlights from touring musicians like Sam Roberts plus metal band Scythia and their “oboe of death” playing Finnegans, Aug. 24 to Matthew Good stopping his show at the Stone, Nov. 17, in the middle of a song to roundly chastise a pair of chowderheads for fighting.

There have been big name country acts this year like Gretchen Wilson and Big and Rich and reunited ’90s rock acts and, as always, a lot of new discoveries, and consequently new favourite bands.


Lethbridge area fires and wind keep fire department busy

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In the immortal words of renown science fiction series “The Hitchikers’ Guide to the Galaxy “Don’t Panic.”

The trouble with Twitter  and social media is it is a medium for spreading half truths and speculation, which in turn triggers unnecessary panic. The big news now is fires happening west and south of Lethbridge.

L.A. Beat’s Books Beat editor Michelle Greysen took some pics of the fire just before dark.

 As of 8:12 p.m., according to a City of Lethbridge tweet,  the fire has been contained on the west side  and crews remain on site to check for hot spots and Univeristy Drive has been re-opened.

There are several accurate sources for  information the city of Lethbridge is updated regularly as is the city of Lethbridge Twitter feed.
Shot just before dark from the south corner on the Popson Park road drive and over the hill in SunRidge. Photo by Michelle Greysen
In the meantime, I’ve been glued to the Lounge 94.1 and Country 95.5 who have regular updates, while keeping the emergency frequencies

  Some general advice, stay off the roads and keep out of the way of the emergency personnel who are taking care of things.

Unless it is absolutely necessary stay off the roads.

While there is no official evacuation order for the city of Lethbridge as of 8 p.m., Nov. 27, there are evacuation alerts for Copperwood and Highlands which means residents should prepare, just in case. As there is no official evacuation order in the city so it is safe and recommended to stay in your homes unless emergency personnel knock on your door and tell you to evacuate. Though some people have left their homes.

An evacuation centre is being set up at the Fritz Sick Centre at 420, 11 Street South, just in case.
Here are the most recent updates from the city of Lethbridge site.Photo by Michelle Greysen

Nov. 28 9:45 a.m.: The Lethbridge Fire Department is working and monitoring hotspots today and there are extras fire crews working today to ensure residents remain safe.  The Blood Reserve fire is out with resources monitoring that area as well.

Yesterday there was 100 % commitment of all resources from all fire stations within the City of Lethbridge.

25 people attended the Fritz Sick reception centre, which is now closed.

Residents are thanked for their cooperation throughout this event.

11:31 p.m.

As an precaution, RCMP are evacuating residents West of Mountain Meadows in the river bottom.  Residents of that area are able to go to the Fritz Sick reception centre.

11:13 p.m.
The Fritz Sick reception centre will remain open for Lethbridge County residents who have been evacuated until further notice.  County residents looking for more information can call 403-328-5525.

City of Lethbridge residents are able to remain in their homes or return home.

The Lethbridge Fire Department will continue to monitor hot spots.

9:09 p.m.
Reception Centre made ready 'just in case' for west Lethbridge residents (Soccer Centre) is now being closed as fire is contained. Fritz Sick Centre remains open for County residents.

8:19 p.m.
The fire came across river before 3:30 p.m. today from the Westside Blood reserve area. The fire is contained and the City of Lethbridge is now containing hot spots. The City of Lethbridge in confident the fire is contained.

Westside residents have not been asked to evacuate. The City of Lethbridge is sending resources to blood reserve to work with their resources on the fire.

6:51 p.m.
Lethbridge Regional Police are advising the public that travel along westbound Whoop Up Drive as well as westbound and eastbound University Drive is restricted.

Unless it is absolutely necessary residents are advised to stay off these roads and remain indoors. Motorists who must travel along these roadways should expect delays. In addition, Highway 3 to West Lethbridge is currently closed by the RCMP.

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