Entertainment

Ruth B delights friends and fans alike at packed Starlite Room show

Ruth B delights friends and fans alike at packed Starlite Room show

It’s possible you could have fit a few more people into the club for Ruth B’s performance at the Starlite Room on Friday night, but only barely. Word is that the 21-year-old local singer-songwriter’s headlining performance was a sellout, and from the number of people scrunched in that hotbox of a room it seems quite possible. Some were family and friends, some were fans, a few probably came out of curiosity to see the woman (real name Ruth Berhe) who had become an internet sensation a few years back with Lost Boy, a song that began as a Vine clip, was fleshed into a full song on video, and then climbed the American and Canadian charts, prompting Columbia Records to sign her and release her first album, Safe Haven.  Nearly two months after the album dropped the Ross Shep grad was back in town on Friday night to celebrate it before heading back on the road to develop a career that seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. Backed by a tight, tasteful trio on drums, keys, and bass, Berhe played the entirety of her debut album, throwing in an Ed Sheeran cover for fun

 
 

Post-Bowie, saxophonist Donny McCaslin is busy charting his own beyond-genre course

Post-Bowie, saxophonist Donny McCaslin is busy charting his own beyond-genre course

Donny McCaslin already had an accomplished career before he became David Bowie’s bandleader. But when Bowie released his final album Blackstar on Jan. 8, 2016 and then died two days later, a lot of attention was suddenly directed toward the Brooklyn-based saxophonist who had helped shape the popstar’s last musical project. Some 18 months later, McCaslin has had “quite the experience” dealing with his sadness over the loss of someone who had become a friend and mentor, humility and pride at being part of Bowie’s awe-inspiring final statement (he was there to accept multiple Grammy Awards for Blackstar on Bowie’s behalf), and exhilaration in facing a fresh focus on his own career at 50. “It’s been very emotional,” he admits. “I’ve been touring a lot more so between all the details that go with that, the press attention that came with Blackstar, getting my own album out, and all the press that goes with that, and having a family — it’s been a whirlwind.” Catching his breath between tours, the reedman was enjoying a quiet moment at home while his daughter took a nap. He’s hasn’t had a break since he took most of January off to avoid exhaustion. It was inevitable that McCaslin’s latest recording as a leader should mark these moments in time. The album he released last October, Beyond Now, is simultaneously a nod of thanks to his late boss, a furiously energetic burst of teamwork with his band, and an experiment with electronica influences that looks to the future. Re-workings of older Bowie tunes A Small Plot Of Land and Warszawa run alongside covers of Deadmau5 and Mutemath, and several originals.

 
 

ArtPic: Beth Howe and Clive McCarthy’s 3500 BRB at SNAP Gallery

ArtPic: Beth Howe and Clive McCarthy’s 3500 BRB at SNAP Gallery

Get up close to Beth Howe and Clive McCarthy’s gorgeous prints on the wall at SNAP and the sense of motion is dizzying. From a distance, 3500 Black Red Black is a lonely train — prints on paper made of wavy lines of varying thickness that trick our brains into sensing grey scale. These lines seem to dance like mad as your eyes travel over them. Already beautiful and detectibly precise, where it gets really interesting is instead of using typically straight lines, these waves were influenced by algorithms the artists adjusted in code in custom software. Next step: the CNC milling machine where they made their woodblock “negatives.” The two found, in other words, an unusual place to shake things up — inside the language of a machine, which has its own moods. The subsequent woodcuts, an ancient form of printing, were subject to a new mathematical influence before ink prints were taken from them

 
 

Rapper Mitchmatic says farewell to Edmonton with two parting gifts

Rapper Mitchmatic says farewell to Edmonton with two parting gifts

Local rapper Mitch (Mitchmatic) Holtby will be leaving Edmonton, but not without saying goodbye, nor leaving a mark. Holtby announced that, as one of his last acts in the city, he mixed and mastered an upcoming album for Tangina Stone, a Brooklyn-based pop singer, which includes numerous high-profile featured artists including Nelly Furtado, who provided vocals for the song Exposed. The local rapper recalls spending 18 hours on that song alone. Holtby knows Stone through his brother, who has been living in New York for the past 10 years. He and Stone have a working relationship that spans a few years. He has played keyboard on a few of her tracks, and played in her band in South by Southwest in 2016. He mixed and/or mastered most of the songs on the record out of his home studio in Strathcona, one he has built up from scratch over the years

 
 

Juno-winning Ruth B kicks off Canadian headlining tour Friday at Starlite

Juno-winning Ruth B kicks off Canadian headlining tour Friday at Starlite

It’s long past the jinxing point: Ruth B is a rising star. In April, in a terrifically sincere reaction of joy, the Edmonton pop singer clutched her surprise breakthrough artist Juno in Ottawa. Next, her gorgeous, emotive full-length album, Safe Haven, hit the digital airwaves in May, produced by Joel Little, his hand all over Lorde’s Pure Heroine debut. And as I interviewed her last week, she was just finished up on Good Morning America in New York City, speeding to the airport to fly to Toronto, happily talking about her favourite places in hometown Edmonton. It’s an enviable trajectory for someone working retail just a few years back, posting six-second covers of Drake on the since-shuttered Vine

 
 

Opera Nuova gives Edmontonians rare chance to see large-cast masterpieces

Opera Nuova gives Edmontonians rare chance to see large-cast masterpieces

Take a stage filled with butterflies, crows, a dragonfly, a badger, a little vixen (and her fox mate and cubs), a mosquito and various other forest creatures. Add a forester and a gamekeeper (and his dog), and you have perhaps the most magical opera of all time: The Cunning Little Vixen by the Czech composer Leoš Janáček. Edmontonians now have the rare chance to experience this marvellous work. Opera Nuova is giving the work its Alberta premiere from June 23 to 30 at Festival Place, Sherwood Park, as one of the main stage shows in the company’s Opera and Music Theatre Festival, now in full swing. Opera Nuova has, of course, built a Canada-wide reputation for its summer programs, giving training and performance opportunities to young singers who have just embarked, or are about to embark, on their professional careers. This year, there are 59 of them, alongside six pianists training as opera repetiteurs. The festival started at the end of May and runs until the end of June. Already there have been a series of vocal recitals, with a special emphasis on celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary

 
 

10 things to do in Edmonton this week: The Works, Jazz Fest and Ryan Adams

10 things to do in Edmonton this week: The Works, Jazz Fest and Ryan Adams

Gretzky is Everywhere The  hockey season is over in Edmonton, but is it really? Andy Warhol’s 1984 print of the Great One is the central image for the exhibition currently running at the Art Gallery of Alberta, Gretzky is Everywhere. Running in several galleries across the country via live video feed, Gretzky is Everywhere takes a look at the how the still beloved, retired Oilers centre is something of a pervasive figure in our consciousness, and allows us to participate (Warhol style) in our own 15 minutes of fame.  When: Until Sept. 24. Open Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m.

 
 

Dianne Reeves packs more than jazz tunes into her eclectic concert adventures

Dianne Reeves packs more than jazz tunes into her eclectic concert adventures

Few jazz singers alive have the power, the vocal range, the assured delivery or the wide-ranging taste in repertoire that Dianne Reeves enjoys. In fact, is it still appropriate to call her a jazz singer? “Jazz was my foundation and jazz has given me the freedom to sing everything,” Reeves noted recently on the line from her Denver home. “The first I saw Ella Fitzgerald, she was doing a concert of all Beatles tunes. Sarah Vaughn sang everything, too. Jazz musicians have always taken the popular music of the day and given it a jazz sensibility.” Even so, you might wonder if she was on a deliberate mission to expand the jazz repertoire with her last album, Beautiful Life (Concord, 2014), the disc that won Reeves her fifth Grammy Award. It includes fresh treatments of Marvin Gaye’s I Want You, Stevie Nicks’ Dreams. Bob Marley’s Waiting In Vain, even an Ani Difranco number, 32 Flavors. Stormy Weather is the only nod to traditional jazz, alongside originals from producer Terri Lynn Harrington and her own wordless scats on Tango. The singer’s upbringing shaped her eclectic tastes

 
 

Sisters Christine and Ingrid Jensen plumb rich stream of Canadian jazz with Infinitude

Sisters Christine and Ingrid Jensen plumb rich stream of Canadian jazz with Infinitude

How did two sisters from Nanaimo, B.C., become shining lights of the Canadian jazz scene? That would be trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, a New Yorker since 1993, and saxophonist Christine Jensen, who moved to Montreal in 1990. Both are celebrated bandleader-composers on their own, currently touring the nation’s jazz fest circuit in a project called Infinitude that they co-lead with New York guitarist Ben Monder . The real answer starts with the fact that the sisters were raised in a family of music teachers and have been hard at work, studying, collaborating and sorting out their individual musical identities for several decades before they started winning international notice. Infinitude is the latest exceptional step, maybe the finest example of home-cooked jazz this year. At turns moody and mysterious, curious and playful, the release on Whirlwind Records is an exceptional example of how kindred spirits can make compelling sounds together. “The recording was actually really fast,” Christine explains, “but we spent a lot of time sort of curating our direction. Arguably a lifetime.” “A lot of branches from the different projects we’ve had over the past 20 years all link to the centre of this music,” explains Ingrid

 
 

North Country Fair: A whole different species of outdoor festival beauty

North Country Fair: A whole different species of outdoor festival beauty

“It for me exemplifies the best aspects of being Albertan — the rugged individualism of, ‘Don’t tell me how to have my fun, I know what to do’,” is how musician Geoff Berner describes the hippy hootenanny North Country Fair, running this weekend in its 39th year, For many, the annual event officially running Thursday through Sunday is a pilgrimage, certainly an escape, and a truly unmatched example of an outdoor music festival blending seamlessly into the beautiful, natural expanse on the east side of Peace Country. There’s a river to swim in, a terrific set of temporary restaurants, absolutely mind-melting music that plays till dawn, and a sense of unfenced freedom that should be the norm … well, everywhere. Berner, who’s playing with Carolyn Mark and Kris Demeanor over the weekend, continues. “As these things go, the hierarchy is pretty level compared to some other, bigger festivals. The players party with the audience.

 
 
 
 

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