Calgary bands bring variety to Okotoks
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 12:08 pm
Four Calgary musical groups are bringing their unique styles to Okotoks in what will be an impressive triple bill next weekend.
Jesse Wall, The June Bugs and the Hutchinson Andrew Trio with Calgary’s Lily String Quartet will perform as part of A Room Full of Sound Concert Series at the Okotoks United Church on Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.
Jesse Wall, the youngest of the performers, is a singer songwriter who can’t quite put his finger on his genre of music.
“It’s a mix between acoustic jazz, a little of alternative light rock and a little bit of country,” he said. “I really jump around genre wise.”
Wall listened to a variety of music growing up and that influence is coming through in his own music, reaching a range of listeners across the province.
“Young people are inspired because I’m young myself and they can kind of see themselves in that place,” he said. “To older people they love my music because they love my instrumental stuff and the finger style stuff that I do.”
Wall was introduced to the local music scene at the Calgary Stampede’s Talent Search in 2010. In 2011, he was the third runner up in the talent search at just 18 years and last year released his first album “The Road Home.”
This weekend marks his first performance in Okotoks and he is really looking forward to the show. He said he is eager to share his stories and experiences through song.
“All of the songs I’ve written are from life experiences,” he said. “The audience will come away with this feeling of complexity because my songs come from a very deep place. There are some energy pieces and some quiet slow thoughtful pieces as well.”
The June Bugs are returning to Okotoks with their upbeat gospels, saucy bluegrass, traditional folk and swing-grass tunes.
“People see us as bluegrass but we do songs like old time songs, gospel songs, swing and jazz songs so there is potpourri of different styles we embody,” said band member Don Gowan. “What people really notice about us is the harmonies in the group are really good.”
Renay Eng-Fisher on upright bass, Audrey Guagliano on guitar, mandolin and harmonica, Sue Anne Borer on harp and percussion, Billy Zee on fiddle and Gowan on guitar tour the prairie provinces, giving their audience a performance of upbeat energy.
“Two guys working with three females you would think there is some estrogen going on,” he said. “There is really no star in the band. We just give it.”
The opportunity to share the stage during the weekend performance is not a problem for The June Bugs. Actually, they like it that way.
“We love sharing the stage,” he said. “From the audience perspective it brings a mixture of whatever each band does.”
Gowan said the band itself offers a wide variety with each member coming from a different background ranging from classical to jazz, he said.
“The core of the music is the string band acoustic style that goes back to the 20s all the way up to contemporary stuff,” he said. “We do have a broad range of material we bring to the stage. We are not strictly a swinger band or old time band. The musical experience of all of us is varied so we all contribute.”
Jazz band Hutchinson Andrew Trio is bringing its contemporary swing, Latin and acoustic mix to Okotoks alongside Calgary’s Lily String Quartet to promote its latest album “Prairie Modern,” which will be released on March 19.
“’Prairie Modern” represents this harmony, beauty, energy and environment of modern Canadian west,” said member Kodi Hutchinson. “It’s almost a sensibility that growing up here gives you and you don’t notice it until you go somewhere else and meet other musicians. You go to the west coast and there is an edge to the music and you go to B.C. and there is a really relaxed thing going on.”
Hutchinson said the band, which also consists of pianist Chris Andrew and drummer Karl Schwonik, grew up in the prairies and it’s hard not to reflect that in their music.
“In the prairies we are faced with these open skies sand vistas that stretch out in front of us,” he said. “It forms how we write. It’s a gentle energy.”
Hutchinson said the prairies are known for its polite people, which is also reflected in their music.
“We are trying to bring that beauty and openness and receptiveness that people have and try to bring that into our music,” he said.
The Hutchinson Andrew Trio has been performing together for eight years and was nominated twice for the Western Canadian Music Award for outstanding jazz album.
Tickets to see Jesse Wall, Hutchinson Andrew Trio and June Bugs cost $25 at the door and $26 online by going to www.aroomfullofsound.com