August 18, 2020
Category: Blog Posts
Must-See Downtown Live Acts
For a while there, it looked as though live music wasn’t going to be a thing during our pandemic summer. Thankfully the rules have loosened up, and the Downtown Business Association has jumped in to assuage the thirst for entertainment with a series of micro-events by local acts in the heart of Edmonton called Downtown Live. Best of all, they’re free! The complete list of performers can be found on the Downtown Live page, but we’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of four acts you might want to check out in the coming weeks:
There aren’t a lot of trombone players that have made it into the public consciousness. You’ll have to go all the way back to the mid-20th century to find celebrated players like Jack Teagarden and Tommy Dorsey working the slide, with Trombone Shorty and Fred Wesley taking up the funk side of things in later years. In Edmonton, we have Audrey Ochoa, who can swing like Jack and Tommy, groove like Fred and Shorty, or dip her toes in ska, punk and electronica waters when she feels like it. It’s been part of her musical makeup from the start, but you can really hear Ochoa’s ever-questing spirit on her latest effort, Frankenhorn, where her mellifluous ‘bone snuggles against strings, piano and Latin jazz arrangements, with an accompanying side of electro-remixes from DJ Battery Poacher. Audrey Ochoa, at the El Beso patio, 10432 Jasper Ave., Thursday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m.
An overseas vacation might be off the table this summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hear the sound of other languages in your own city. Specifically at a Le Fuzz show, where you’re as likely to hear lyrics in Spanish, French, Russian, and Portuguese as you will in English, with accompanying musical explorations that often take songs into very unexpected territory. The band has been at it since the early 2000s, impressing festival and club audiences with takes on such traditional French-Canadian numbers as V’la Bon Vent, as well as the Spanish-sung Che Guevera homage Hasta Siempre. It’s a dizzying and often surprising musical ride helmed by band co-founders Jason Kodie (accordion) and Frank Bessai (violin), a trip through multiple cultures with witty commentary to boot. Le Fuzz, at the Starlite Room patio, 10030 102nd St., Friday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m.
There’s something about a man with a bowtie that suggests trust and respect. Think Pee-Wee Herman, Fred Astaire, Huckleberry Hound, the grandfather in Gilmore Girls; now add Edmonton-based folk-rocker Von Bieker to the list of sartorial outliers you’ll want to swoon over. The smartly dressed singer-songwriter has kept busy during the pandemic with Zoom concerts and singles like his most recent, Little Mercies, while finishing up his yet-to-be-titled latest album. Grabbing from an assortment of folk, rock, and new wave influences, Von Bieker works his magic from a musical toolbag that might remind you at times of Bruce Cockburn, Bahamas and Leonard Cohen, Sufjan Stevens and Glen Hansard, as well as Hiss Golden Messenger and Radiohead. He calls it “bowtie rock to haunt your heart,” and that’s about as apt a description as you’ll find. Von Bieker, at the Mercer Tavern patio, 10363 104th St., Friday, Aug. 21 at 7 p.m.
They’ve self-bestowed themselves with a high military rank, but rest assured the Brigadiers won’t be bellowing any orders at you. Instead, Darrek Anderson and Sean Brewer will be singing sweet acoustic numbers flavoured with folk, country, bluegrass, and even strains of Appalachian music. The local two piece, who describe themselves as “All-Acoustic Western Canadiana,” can be seen playing their respective trades as veteran sidemen in a number of different bands (including Ayla Brook & the Soundmen and John Guliak & Prairie Flounder) on acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo, and pedal steel. Expect them to drag along the more portable instruments to the market this Saturday, August 22, where you’ll likely hear their most recent Spotify releases Maybe Tomorrow and Jenny, My Heart’s Been on the Line. Brigadiers, at the Edmonton Downtown Farmers Market, 10305 97 St., Saturday, Aug. 22 at noon