Concert brings Alberta talent on stage

Music: A Room Full of Sound features a variety of talents on Feb. 18

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 08:38 am

Calgary musician Lee John May of Big Daddy & the Water Rats is one of many southern Alberta musicians to perform at A Room Full of Sound's upcoming concert at the Okotoks United Church on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. The other performers include Pincher Creek area singer/songwriter Sid Marty and a duet by Calgary jazz musicians Karl Roth and Dave Hamilton.
Calgary musician Lee John May of Big Daddy & the Water Rats is one of many southern Alberta musicians to perform at A Room Full of Sound's upcoming concert at the Okotoks United Church on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. The other performers include Pincher Creek area singer/songwriter Sid Marty and a duet by Calgary jazz musicians Karl Roth and Dave Hamilton.
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Okotoks area music enthusiasts won’t have a shortage of musical entertainment this weekend.

A Room Full of Sound Concert Series is bringing southern Albertan musicians on stage for a night of entertainment at the Okotoks United Church on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. The triple bill consists of Calgary rocking blues band Big Daddy & the Water Rats, Pincher Creek area singer/songwriter Sid Marty and a duet by Calgary jazz musicians Karl Roth and Dave Hamilton.

Big Daddy & the Water Rats’ Lee John May, known among friends as Big Daddy, plans to liven things up this weekend with his band’s upbeat blues.

“We try to have fun with it and make sure everyone else is having fun,” he said. “It’s just the attitude that we put forth when we play. It’s music that people can tap their toes to and feel good about.”

May formed Big Daddy & the Water Rats in 2005, bringing together coworkers at the Calgary water services with a love for performing, shaping them into a band and earning the nickname Big Daddy.

May describes the band’s original and cover music as something people can tap their toes to.

The songwriter gains inspiration for his lyrics from everyday life.

“I write about things that are right in front of me,” he said. “I try to find a muse. I try to put as much as I can into each word to bring out a meaning.”

Those planning to take in this weekend’s performance will hear music from Big Daddy & the Water Rats’ latest album “Night is Fallen Blues are Callin’,” released last spring.

“We try to keep it interesting and light humoured,” he said. “It’s the kind of music that’s universal.”

May said he enjoys the intimate feel that comes with performing in concert format and is eager to take the stage in Okotoks this weekend.

“I find it’s nice to be able to visually connect with our audience,” he said. “That way, you are seeing them react to what you’re writing and how it’s coming off.”

Also eager to entertain in Okotoks is Calgary violinist Roth, who has more than 30 years experience as a professional musician – almost 20 of those spent performing alongside Calgary guitarist Dave Hamilton, who will join him on stage along with Calgary bass player Neil Bentley.

Hamilton, named “Alberta Instrumentalist of the Year” for three consecutive years in the early ’90s, performed with such iconic musicians as Ian Tyson, Tommy Hunter, Ronnie Prophet and Paul Brandt.

Roth originally hired Hamilton as his accompanist and their musical relationship soared from there.

Roth and Hamilton are known for putting their own twist on standard jazz music, playing a range of popular songs from the ’30s to ’50s including “I’ve Got the World on a String” and “Over the Rainbow.”

“This used to be the popular music of the day,” he said. “Everyone from children to older people recognize the music, although we don’t play it the way they’re used to hearing it. We stake the melody, close enough that you get the idea and then we go from there. We improvise.”

Roth said their style of performance keeps music from the past alive.

“It’s a more old school way of going about things,” he said. “It’s a more melodic approach to jazz.”

Although Roth is a talented musician, writing songs of his own never appealed to him.

“I’m not really interested in being a singer/songwriter,” he said. “I’m a performer. That’s what we do.”

Roth’s musical talent goes back to the age of seven when he started playing the violin. He took up singing later on in his career.

“I don’t feel accomplished as a singer as I do an instrumentalist,” he said. “I never trained singing like I did the violin.”

Roth performed with a variety of musicians throughout the years before settling into a groove he’s come to love.

“I’ve led bands, had blues and rhythm and blues bands, a long time ago,” he said. “As a band you are always splitting your head in a bunch of different ways. You’ve got the audience to think about, the band to think about, you’ve got to be aware and in control in a certain way.”

Performing with Hamilton has been a more rewarding experience for Roth.

“When I play, I play and I don’t have to think about Dave,” he said. “The fact that you play together for so long there’s an understanding, an intuitive understanding you come to after that long. I never loved playing more than I have the last five or six years with just how easy it is these days.”

Also entertaining with a unique style of his own is singer/songwriter/guitar player Sid Marty. The author and poet, inspired by his days working as a park warden patrolling the backcountry in Rocky Mountain national parks, will perform songs he wrote about western Canada.

Tickets to see the show can be purchased at Sobeys, Bluerock Coffee Co. or at the door for $25. They are also available online at www.aroomfullofsound.com for $26.


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