Country Concerts & Benefits

Marilyn Manson once said that music can be the strongest form of magic. It’s an accurate statement – regardless of genre or style, music carries the power to bring people together in a magical, and even spiritual sense. Nowhere has this been more evident and in epic proportion than currently in southern Alberta as thousands of rural people continue to pick up the pieces of their lives after the devastating floods of the past weeks. Musicians with ties to rural Alberta, and even those without, continue to announce benefit concerts and events all over the West, to raise money for flood relief. I’m so proud so see this outpouring, and thought I’d list as many as I could track down in this post. Summertime is a fabulous time for concert-going – knowing the proceeds of your ticket go to flood relief efforts is just the icing on the cake, isn’t it?

In our July/August issue we featured 48 of our personal picks for Best of the West Adventures. One happened to be the Auditorium Hotel bar in Nanton, Alberta. Known to insiders as one of the last genuinely great, funky old bars, the Auditorium may be one of a dying breed (for instance, don’t look for a website, you won’t find one), but the acoustics and atmosphere still render it a one-of-a-kind. Built in 1902, the Auditorium overlooks mainstreet Nanton and on any given weekend offers up some of the most authentic and entertaining music in the country, say for instance, the likes of the late Stompin’ Tom Connors or Ian Tyson.

The Auditorium is holding a benefit concert tomorrow evening, featuring none other than Fred Eaglesmith. Tickets are still available and you can order them directly from the hotel at (403) 646-2746. At $20 a piece, it’s an fantastic deal, and all of the proceeds go to flood relief. In addition, there is a Silent Auction, where we’ve already seen some amazingly generous items up for auction, check the Auditorium’s Facebook Page for the latest additions. Western Horse Review is partnering with some of the other 47 Best of the West picks to offer packages specifically for the Silent Auction. We’ll be announcing those on our Facebook page as we confirm them, so check back often. If you have anything you can donate – items or your services – please e-mail Tanis Bailey at [email protected] with the details of your donation. Needless to say, time is of the essence!

You can find Allison Brock, host of CKUA’s Wide Cut Country – in this household, an absolute must every Saturday morning – on Facebook, or at her Radiobrock website, where she’s been listing concerts, and other music-related fundraising efforts.

Last week Jenn Webster at My Stable Life wrote about George Canyon’s impressive Team Canyon Cleanup Crew, have a look at his Facebook page for more information and highlights from the very many volunteers who have signed up to help.

You don’t have to travel all the way to southern Alberta to partake in the benefit concerts. One of our fave Albertan musicians, and featured in our March issue, Corb Lund is hosting a benefit concert at the Starlite Room, Edmonton, on July 28. Tickets on sale tomorrow, check his website for more information.

Aspen Crossing, also one of our Best of the West picks is now donating part of the proceeds of a concert they already had in the works to flood relief. Join them for the Southern Alberta Music Festival, featuring musicians such as Steve Coffey and the Lokels, and many more August 24th!

Finally, Chelsea Cunningham is part of a neatly inspired fashion shoot Managing Editor, Dainya Sapergia dreamed up recently, (watch for it in the Sept/Oct issue), but in the meantime her Hell or High Water video hit the heartstrings of many in recent weeks. Leaving you with it and hoping you’ll be able to take part in some of these inspiring music festivals and jams this summer.

Farewell To A Canadiana Music Legend

Happy Trails From The BC Cowboy Festival


BC Cowboy Festival

The 2013 BC Cowboy Festival buckle, crafted by silversmith Richard Tenisch, from Merritt, BC. Photos by Deanna Buschert

For many talented cowboy entertainers, artisans and Western lifestyle addicts, the Annual Kamloops Cowboy Festival is a March tradition. This year marked the 17th edition of the Kamloops, BC, festival, which hosted an extensive list of the hottest performers of today’s country western entertainment. The star studded stage line-up included Canada’s Tim Hus and Gary Fjellgaard, American’s Dave Stamey and the half-cracked humour of Australian Champion Bush Poet, Carol Heuchan.

Kamloops is historically considered to be ranching country. Throughout the second weekend in March, the BC Cowboy Festival’s objective is to honour the legacy of the working cowboy and promote the unique heritage, which follows this way of life.

Shirley Field Allen Christie  Mike Dygert

Mike Dygert of the Gordy West Band, Shirley Field and Allen Christie, took the stage during the Friday evening performance.

The music, poetry and artisans which decend upon Kamloops during the March cowboy gala, are second to none.

“It’s not what you expect sometimes- it is genuine and real,” explained festival co-founder and entertainer Hugh McLennan.

According to McLennan, the Kamloops Cowboy Festival is considered by everyone in the genre, the place to be.

The 2013 BC Cowboy Heritage Society’s Hall of Fame Artistic Achievement, was awarded to the late Cowboy Poet Mike Puhallo- co-founder of the BC Cowboy Festival.

This year’s BC Cowboy Heritage Hall of Fame honourees included Artistic Achievement winner, (the late) Mike Puhallo, Century Ranch recipient the Pooley Ranch, Working Cowboy award winner Steve Archacan (Hyde) and the annual Family inductee went to the Pozzobon (Sammy) outfit.

BCCHS Pooley Ranch

The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, honouring the Pooley Ranch family with the BCCHS Century Ranch award.

The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lietenant Governor of BC, was on hand to congratulate the 2013 BCCHS Hall of Fame honourees. Guichon knows the cowboy life first hand. The Governor owns and operates the Gerard Guichon Ranch, a large cattle operation in the Nicola Valley, BC.

The Joe Marten Memorial Award winner, Don Lowen of Cowboy Classic Equipment

The Joe Marten Memorial Award winner, saddle maker Don Lowen of Cowboy Classic Equipment and his family.

This year’s Joe Marten Award winner was Merritt BC’s Don Lowen. Lowen is a talented craftsman, who once worked on the famous Douglas Lake Ranch and for several decades has been one of BC’s most respected saddle makers.

“I remember having this desire to build saddles,” said Lowen. “Then I gave it all that I had.”

The Joe Marten Award is honoured to those who have worked the ranges and continue to preserve the Western heritage in BC.

Country 103's Louis McIvor congratulating Rising Star winner Rae-Lee Faser of Barriere, BC.

Country 103’s Louis McIvor congratulating Rising Star winner Rae-Lee Faser of Barriere, BC.

Finishing off the weekend’s festivities, was the crowning of this year’s Rising Stars. In the poetry division, BC’s Rae-Lee Fraser of Barriere, BC took home first place and the $1000 grand prize. The Rising Star competition is a platform for emerging artists to showcase their work and gain exposure to the Western performance scene.

For more information on the 2013 Kamloops Cowboy Festival and its extensive list of entertainers and award recipients, go to

That Lonesome Song

Some call it badass country. I prefer outlaw.

It’s the genre of music which resides just outside of mainstream country. It’s a beautiful spot. Search it out, I encourage you. There is a veritable arena full of talent we will sadly never ever hear on our local FM Country stations. Unless of course commercial country somehow, someday – are you reading the hopeful in my words? – reaches a point of saturation. We fringers hold these dreams close to our hearts.

Here in Alberta, you will hear outlaw country on programs such as Allison Brock’s Wide Cut Country, which plays every Saturday morning on the CKUA radio station. Every Saturday morning, I thank the Lord for Allison Brock.

Jamey Johnson is one of the most recent residents to outlaw country, and my favorite CD to date is That Lonesome Song, a compilation which has held top spot in my truck player for weeks on end. In fact, it’s come to this: those who regularly travel with me now groan when it kicks in.

Nine-year-old Wee knows the words to all the songs. Even those she probably shouldn’t know the words to. There are a one or a two of those.

Jamey Johnson wrote and recorded this CD in a two-year time span, following a divorce, and a self-imposed sabbatical from a downward spiraling life, the aftermath of waking up one morning on a gravel road, the perspective of which he chronicles in the title single.

Some of what I love about That Lonesome Song:

It’s autobiographical.


Mostly true.

Roots driven.





It features insane pedal steel.

It’s brave and honest.

A gift to all of us. From Jamey.

From the artist Rolling Stone magazine recently named as one of 40 top reasons to be excited about music, enjoy this interview and snippets of tunes from That Lonesome Song through this link:

And in any good record store, you’ll find him as he puts it, literally, and figuratively, “between Jennings and Jones.”

Craven Country

Since Clay and I have relocated to Saskatchewan, one of the most difficult things for me has been missing out on the Calgary Stampede – the midway and the rodeo have been a way of life for my family since I was probably, 5-years-old. But I did get a quick taste of it this year. Last Wednesday, I had to make a brief trip over to Alberta to pick up a horse. And let me tell you, driving in Calgary during Stampede week, with a dually, was a grueling experience to say the least. I am proud to say that I survived. And so did the truck.

My friend Nancy Pratch and I.

Upon my return to Saskatchewan this past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Craven Country Jamboree, held in Craven, SK. With a lively crowd and a line-up of impressive country acts, the festival helps to fill the Stampede void for me, if not make me forget about it almost entirely…

Dave, our “handlebar blender friend,” might have had something to do with that too:

It was my second time attending this incredible outdoor concert and I have to tell you, I was once again thoroughly impressed with the culture and energy that comes out in droves for this event.

John Deere green can be found everywhere. Rider Pride is on almost every bandana, fake – or real – tattoo and sweater (when it actually gets a little chilly at night and bikini-clad girls reach for warmer threads). And the Pilsner flows freely.

A "small" Craven crowd at this point.

At Craven, agriculture takes on almost a surreal form. Age old traditions and ways of life are celebrated with a modern frenzy. The youth embrace it and the experienced cherish it. Nothing makes you prouder than wearing “Farm Boy” or “Farm Girl” attire of some sort. And the crowd goes absolutely nuts when a song comes along featuring the line, “She thinks my tractor’s sexy…!”

Of course, Kenny Chesney helps to get the crowd going too.

This year the country star line-up at Craven included Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean, Diamond Rio, Emerson Drive, Martina McBride, Kevin Costner and Modern West and Chesney closed up Sunday night with an amazing and dynamic performance. I didn’t want it to end.

Luckily, a new act who will surely keep the Craven spirit alive for me until next year and is quickly filling up all the space in my ipod, is Luke Bryan. Although I was new to his music prior to Craven, he certainly caught my attention when his band ripped out a Metallica interlude. Check out these lyrics, the rock infused country guitar, a killer fiddler and well… now I know why he is a 2-time nominee on People Country magazine’s most beautiful list.


Road Trips CDs #4

Here’s my last set of Road Trip CDs. The final five. Hope you’ve enjoyed the trip and please check back to see week one, two and three’s selections at Road Trip CDs.


Tom Petty – The Highway Companion

With the line, “a coyote raaaaan across the road,” . . . how could this not make the Road CDs list? Seriously, Tom Petty is a serious road tunes listen, and that pretty much includes any one of his compilations, however, this one is my favorite at the moment.


Frida Soundtrack

From the excellent movie, featuring Salma Hayek, it’s Lila Down’s music I’m drawn to most in this musical compilation, though I don’t think there is a single musical gem within which I haven’t heard a thousand times or more. Any road trip will benefit from the inclusion of this landscape of the the mysterious and tumultuous Mexico of the mid-20th century. Pay attention to Chavela Vargas’s Paloma Negra, recorded 40 years earlier. Vargas, once a lover of the free-spirited Frida Kahlo gives an unforgettable performance and she is featured in the movie as well.


Lucinda Williams – Little Honey

No music list of mine could be complete without a mention of the Goddess Lucinda. Williams is the real deal, drawing powerful breaths of authenticity. Little Honey is a wonderful rocky, bluesy sound, unmistakably Williams, who at 57, appears to have a lot of peak left in her. That’s an inspiration for a 40-something girl.


Corb Lund – Horse Soldier, Horse Soldier

At Western Horse Review, we love Corb Lund almost as much as . . . well, almost as much as Ian Tyson. I’m really, really sorry about this Corb. But consider, it’s not a bad deal being named in the same sentence as Ian. I especially love Especially A Paint, a beautiful ballad that draws a parallel between a lost desire and the Old West.

. . . which brings us to . .  .


Ian Tyson – Yellowhead to Yellowstone and Other Love Stories

It’s that gravelly voice that brings us to Ian’s latest, a beautiful compilation of songs and ballads suited for any drive, anywhere, any day.

And that finishes off the Road Tunes CDs set of four.

Now it’s your turn. What do you listen to down the road? Comment below with your fave Road CDs, and we’ll enter you to win one of three Ian Tyson, Yellowhead to Yellowstone and Other Love Stories CD’s we have to give away.

Contest closes June 30.

Leaving you with Lucinda William’s latest Letterman appearance performing Real Love. Enjoy!

Road Trip CDs #3

Because it’s Friday.

Because my lawn mower is in the repair shop. Not that it matters.

Because I am resplendently rich in lilacs and rain showers on this day.

Because we might just head out on our own road trip this weekend to little daughter’s first horse show of the year. With her still slightly chubby pony, Princess.

And, because there have been such great suggestions for Road Trip CDs already made in the comment section below, I’m going to share my next five top Road Trip CDs right here, right now.

Before you do anything check out week one and two of the Road Trip CDs saga.


Crazy Heart Soundtrack

T Bone Burnett and the late Stephen Bruton penned the songs for character Bad Blake, an aging, alcoholic, yet achingly beautiful country singer, played by Jeff Bridges in the movie. It’s these originals I love most on the soundtrack: Hold On You, Somebody Else, Fallin’ And Flyin’ with the catchy line, “Funny how fallin’ feels like flyin’ but only for a little while.” And then there is the Oscar-winning The Weary Kind, by Ryan Bingham, which captures, for me, the loves of a dear friend or two in all of their haunting beauty. Combined with country classics like Waylon Jenning’s, Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way, this collection has laid hold of the number one spot in my truck player for two months running.

P.S. Don’t miss the movie, it’s raw and true, and the music is a huge part of it.



Greg Brown  – The Evening Call

I can hardly believe this is Greg Brown’s 23rd release and my first. Brown’s vocals are not comparative to any other, and his lyrics are intelligent and poetic. It’s eclectic, completely authentic and so unusually, yet beckoningly different. My son loves Eugene (as in Oregon), wherein Brown talk-sings his way through a six-some minute long travelogue of camping and fishing spots across America and wise observations along the way, including “everybody’s got a story, everybody’s got a family, and a lot of them have RVeees.” This is a great one for the wee hours of the morning, after a long drive, when you can’t yet quite settle down to the idea of sleep.

By the way, Brand New Angel, in the movie Crazy Heart, is a Greg Brown tune.

Beginning to see the karma of my week?


Sam Baker – Pretty World

I heard a cut from this on CKUA’s fabulous Saturday morning program, Wide Cut Country, hosted by Allison Brock. Because I don’t know a lot about Sam, I looked up his website to see if he plays in Canada. On his home page, a note: Please confirm shows before travelling. This stuff changes in a most unpredictable manner – thanks, Sam.

Kinda like life.


Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings – Naturally

What is this? Funk? Soul? Blues? Motown? . . . oh whatever . . . every piece on this recording is a wee little retro gem.


Steve Earle – Washington Square Serenade

Okay, so I was told that no road tunes collection would be complete without a little bit of the great Steve Earle. So, I thought, which one? I settled on this. An older mellowed Steve Earle lives on Washington Square. Though much of this CD is comprised of tunes of a more political nature, Sparkle and Shine and Come Home to Me are my faves.

And that, in a three-week nutshell are some of my favorite road tunes. I only have five more. Well, that’s not quite accurate.

I have 57 more.

But for this series, I only have five more and I’ll be posting them next Friday. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, I hope you find something within that hits your groove, and when you do, turn it up.

Now it’s your turn. What do you listen to down the road? Comment below with your fave Road CDs, and, as long as you try not to mention Toby Keith in the same sentence, we’ll enter you to win one of three Ian Tyson, Yellowhead to Yellowstone and Other Love Stories CD’s we have to give away.

Contest closes June 30.

I leave you with this video of Ryan Bingham singing the Oscar-winning The Weary Kind.

Have a great weekend, friends.

Road Trip CDs #2

Okay, so before you do anything check back into my post from last Friday. It will give you the insight to this stream which is all about favorite road tunes. What we’re doing is sharing our road tunes selections, and I began with counting my #20-#16 last Friday and this week continue with my next five.

Just in time for the weekend, here they are:


American IV: the Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash

I’ve never been as passionate about Cash as I have been after hearing the American series. I’m drawn to the roughness of Cash’s aging voice in this CD and particularly the two tracks, Hurt, and The Man Comes Around – the first a rendition of the Nine Inch Nail’s classic, and the latter Cash’s interpretation of the Book of Revelations.


The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere – Utah Phillips and Ani Difranco

Satirical and intelligent, from a man whose mind was wounded in the Korean War and ended up on skid-row back in America, awesome music and reflective words, for real thinking and laughing out loud, when heading down the highway. This one, produced by and punctuated with the music of the original righteous babe, Ani Difranco, make for a brilliant collaboration.


DeStijl – The White Stripes

You don’t have to be a thinker to love this music . . . come to think of it, White Stripes is best for the days you don’t want to think at all . . . horse in the trailer, a few precious dog days of summer, a long stretch of gravel road and this CD mix well. I particularly like DeStijl, it has a raw quality to it that was somewhat compromised later, when the band was signed by a major record company.


A Love Song for Bobby Long Soundtrack – Various

From the opening scene of Bobby stepping out from the warm, protective graciousness of a smoky corner bar, into the unforgiving light, this movie and the music in it resonated with me. Set against a beautiful backdrop of New Orleans decay, with a collection of broken people I could completely relate to, the movie and soundtrack are a work of art, and from blues to rock, this collective fits any highway trip.


1,000 Kisses – Patti Griffin

It’s that voice. Soft, melodic, lonely; Griffin is a songbird. From Springsteen’s brilliant, dark, prairiesque Nebraska album, I especially love her bold rendition of Stolen Car.

That’s what I have for you in music this week, check back next Friday for five more and don’t forget to enter our great giveaway. Just mention your one or a few of your favorite road tunes CD’s in the Comments section below and you’ll automatically be entered to win one of three Ian Tyson, Yellowhead to Yellowstone and Other Love Stories CD’s we have to give away.

Contest ends June 30.

Road Trips CDs #1

In the March, 2006 edition of Cowboys and Indians magazine, columnist Bill Reynolds put a call out for readers to submit their favorite road trip CD’s. Mr. Reynolds led off the request with his own list of 12 favorites. His were specifically “for the Drive to the Rodeo.” It was an eclectic gathering and I recognized talent I could appreciate – Jimmy Buffet, Joni Mitchell, Lucinda Williams and, in a nod to the musical talent of his neighbour to the north, the Cowboy Junkies and Sarah McLachlan.

I can get really excited about music, it’s one of my passions. Naturally this 12 Road Trip CDs was right up my alley and I almost immediately fired off my 12 faves directly to Bill Reynold’s inbox. And, much to my surprise Bill Reynolds replied to me. He wrote something along the lines of “great list, good to see Ian Tyson at the top of it.” I kept that e-mail for years, then my laptop blew up, and that was the end of that.

But, as I recall, my number one CD happened to be Ian Tyson’s latest at the time, Live at Longview.

Since then, he’s released two more: Songs From the Gravel Road and Yellowhead to Yellowstone and Other Love Stories. I highly recommend them both. I am a longstanding fan of Ian Tyson. Not only is he a Canadian icon, a horseman and a true talent, he champions for the land – his land, my land, our land, and I have a great respect for folks like that.

He’s authentic and true to himself. I like that in a guy. Girls can have a little “pretend” in them, a little this, a little that – that’s cool. But guys need to be the real deal. No pretend. No hair color. No botox.

A tattoo is okay.

Back to the road tunes. Since I had so much fun doing this the first time around, and on the off chance that Bill Reynolds might write me again, I’m going to share my new and revised Road CDs with you. I’ll list them over four weeks, every Friday, counting down from 20 to 1.

Now mind, these are Road CDs, not Pre-Show CDs, which is a different entity entirely. That list might name the likes of Nirvana, the Ramones and even Eminem or 50 Cent, all designed to provide fortitude and strength to the guts upon entering the show ring. Road CDs are all about melting into and enveloping the landscape, as you lean into those kilometers ahead of you. Here’s my top five this week.


Timeless – A Tribute to Hank Williams – Various Artists

When she was a wee one, Teenager daughter often used to request original Hank when we were driving down the highway. She loved all that “hey, good lookin, whatcha got cookin’” stuff and it really was entertaining to listen to her belt it out from the back seat. No one could write or sing it the way Hank did, but I also love this tribute CD and particularly Keb Mo’s and Beck’s interpretation of the classic, mournful Hank, with I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry and Your Cheatin’ Heart.


My Sweetheart The Drunk – Jeff Buckley

“I don’t write my music for Sony. I write it for the people who are screaming down the road crying to a full-blast stereo.” – JB.

Guess that’s why I like it. Last fall, I really got into this vintage CD, some of which was compiled from tapes found in his studio after his tragic death.


Where’d You Hide the Body? – James McMurtry

If that name rings a bell, it’s probably because you’re familiar with McMurtry’s novelist father, Larry, of Lonesome Dove fame. Like father, like son, McMurtry’s descriptive, short novelette songs encompass entire lifetimes and characters, many of which could have been plucked right out of the tragedy-rich lives of the people I seemed drawn to most, in the prairies of my childhood.


Time Out of Mind – Bob Dylan

I purchase, and usually subsequently fall in love with anything produced by Daniel Lanois, and this gem is definitely no exception. A Dylanesque landscape of beauty, this fits the quietness of any night driving, and is particularly special at dusk.


Achtung, Baby – U2

Again produced by Daniel Lanois, my favorite all-time U2, I listen to it when I think I’ve been treading too long on placid waters.

That’s my top five this week. Enjoy and check in next week for five more. In the meantime, let me know your top Road Tunes CD’s in the comment section below. Name one, name five, whatever you like – just about anything but the Toby Keith Christmas Collection will be welcome in this county – and your name will be entered to win one of three of Ian Tyson’s Yellowhead to Yellowstone and Other Love Stories CDs, which I happen to know you’ll love.