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Roots supergroup brings energy to Morinville

Front Porch Roots Revue dusts off Christmas classics and some less familiar gems

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Dec 04, 2013 06:00 am

ROOTS DUDES – Ron Rault (left) and Dave
ROOTS DUDES – Ron Rault (left) and Dave "Crawdad" Cantera.
Supplied photo

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Preview

Front Porch Roots Revue
Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Morinville Community Cultural Centre
9502 – 100 Ave.
Tickets: $25/adults; $20/seniors; $10/students. Call 780-420-1757 or purchase online at www.tixonthesquare.ca

There’s roots music and then there’s really fine roots music – that kind that grabs you by the lapels and won’t let go.

Getting the right blend of experienced, polished musicians together to create a night of magic is hit and miss. But when the chemistry is there, it’s a life-changing experience.

So look no further than the soulful Front Porch Roots Revue, a blues-country-gospel-folk band coming to Morinville Community Cultural Centre on Friday, Dec. 6.

A production organized through Music North Productions, the band explores a mix of original music and covers from iconic singer-songwriters with a sprinkling of seasonal fun thrown in.

Led by bassist Ron Rault, the spirited core members are St. Albert guitarist Gordie Matthews, drummer Thom Moon and harmonica ace Dave “Crawdad” Cantera.

Front Porch Roots Revue delivers variety and each time the energetic band performs it’s a different show.

This time they’ve invited acclaimed Alberta vocalist Karla Anderson and gifted pianist and singer-songwriter Stew MacDougall to add some Christmas spice.

Anderson’s music was featured on CBS’ five-year run of Joan of Arcadia and MacDougall co-wrote Randy Travis’ latest hit Wind in the Wire.

“Both Stew and Karla have a way of stopping me in my tracks with their poignancy. Theirs are songs that circle into the heart and soul,” says Rault.

This collective of award-winning western Canadian musicians was the brainchild of Peter North, of Music North Productions. For more than 30 years as station manager at CKUA, a print journalist, and former producer of CBC’s Country Beat, North has galvanized western Canadian roots music.

Nearly 12 years ago, North came up with a revolutionary idea to bring together roots musicians from all over Canada for periodic jam sessions. Heavyweights such as Amos Garrett dropped by for an evening of improvisation. Likewise fans loved the concept and sell-out shows became the norm.

“About seven years ago that evolved into Front Porch Roots Revue,” says Rault, who started in 2005.

It was around 2007 that the band started to structure rehearsals with the aim of stretching its limits and delivering more complex arrangements.

“We had a lot of repeat fans and were concerned. We didn’t want to use up the audience up and not grow as a show. It was time to present stuff with a little more breadth and we decided to introduce stuff like western swing.”

MacDougall, a featured specialist on numerous occasions, was brought into the fold.

“He was the first keyboardist for k.d. lang and Gordie (Matthews) was also with k.d. for a while. She had a revolving door (of musicians) along with Ian (Tyson). Tom Moon was also a drummer for k.d. and I’ve done three albums with Ian.”

For the Morinville concert, the artists are pulling old favourites together.

“We’ve got wonderful Christmas music and some not-so-familiar tunes. Stew’s bringing some wonderful familiar music including Ian’s Milk River Ridge, based on a true story of a woman giving birth in the middle of nowhere.”

In a poppier vein, the band steps it up with Jingle Bell Rock and a rock ’n roll version of Elvis’ Blue Christmas. And be prepared for a mind-blowing Celtic-reggae version of Good King Wenceslas.

To lighten the mood even more, Crawdad, a self-imposed techno-phobe is revving up for The Caveman.

And while Anderson has not yet delivered a set list, Rault predicts, “She’ll stick out like a rose among thorns.”

In summing up the musician-writers, Rault closes by saying, “They have a way of bringing poignancy to a show and make it a deeply touching moment. I hope it’s an experience, not a show. I want to touch people. I’m a sucker for Christmas. I like togetherness and I hope we can share that in Morinville.”


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