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Flinging into spring

Three bands set to get toes tapping at diabetes fundraiser hosted by the Cosmopolitan Club

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Saturday, Mar 15, 2014 06:00 am

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  • DASH RIPROCK – Mike Cearns and his band Dash Riprock will headline the St. Albert Cosmopolitan Club's Spring Fling on Saturday, March 22. The event is a fundraiser for diabetes research.
    DASH RIPROCK – Mike Cearns and his band Dash Riprock will headline the St. Albert Cosmopolitan Club's Spring Fling on Saturday, March 22. The event is a fundraiser for diabetes research.
    Supplied photo
  • COOL CAT – Lenny Batuik of Lenny and the Cats promises an eclectic selection of tunes during the band's upcoming performance at Spring Fling.
    COOL CAT – Lenny Batuik of Lenny and the Cats promises an eclectic selection of tunes during the band's upcoming performance at Spring Fling.
  • ONE-MAN BAND – Matthew James Potter is a blues-roots musician who plays harmonica, acoustic slide guitar and stomp box.
    ONE-MAN BAND – Matthew James Potter is a blues-roots musician who plays harmonica, acoustic slide guitar and stomp box.

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Spring Fling
With Dash Riprock, Matthew James Potter and Lenny and the Cats
Saturday, March 22 from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
St. Albert Community Hall
17 Perron St.
Tickets: $20 Call Les at 780-458-7841

The sun is shining. The clouds have parted. So dust off your magical dancing shoes – yes, the ones you packed away in the closet last fall – and get ready to party.

The St. Albert Cosmopolitan Club, known far and wide for mounting the Rock’n August international car show, is hosting its second annual Spring Fling on Saturday, March 22 at St. Albert Community Hall.

As with the car show, all proceeds from the spring dance will be donated to diabetes research. Much of the service club’s fundraising is directed towards the University of Alberta’s Edmonton Protocol for islet transplants.

The three acts featured on this booty-shakin’ night are Dash Riprock, one of Edmonton’s hottest bands in the ’80s and ’90s, traditional blues solo artist Matthew James Potter, and open jam impresarios Lenny and the Cats.

The Spring Fling was launched last year as a birthday accident. Both Michael Cearns and Fred Miller of Dash Riprock were turning 60 and their wives wanted to throw a celebratory party.

However, the two musicians conspired to add an extra dimension. As Cosmopolitan members dedicated to fundraising for diabetes, they suggested a dance. The inaugural Spring Fling turned into a sold-out event.

“The first Spring Fling was held under the guise of birthday party. We raised $4,000 so we decided to do it again,” said Cearns.

The singer-songwriter’s father-in-law has diabetes and he has witnessed first-hand the restrictions patients must follow and the difficulties they encounter.

Originally from Winnipeg, the St. Albert resident is proud of his connection to the Cosmopolitan Club and to a 30-year history entertaining local audiences.

A graduate of MacEwan College, Cearns was one of the original driving forces of Dash Riprock along with Miller, also a Winnipeg transplant. One of the top three bands of the ’90s, Dash Riprock was playing every weekend.

“By then the market had changed and we were doing what musicians call the back-three – Thursday, Friday, Saturday. We played the Sun Christmas party. We were the first band to do the AIDS Walk. We played at K-Days.”

They were on agents’ speed dial and club owners considered them a business bonanza.

“We did four-part and five-part harmonies. We were really known as a vocal band with good musicianship.”

The band is now pickier about bookings – less than 10 a year. However, Cearns (guitar), Miller (guitar), Michael Jackson (piano), Kasara Jaxon (vocalist), Bob Morin (guitar), Mike Hill (bass) and Des O’Kell (drums), keep their chops polished with solo gigs.

Cats come out to play

Also on tap are Lenny and the Cats, the house band at the Blind Pig Pub’s Saturday afternoon open jams.

“We call ourselves the Cats because we refer to old musicians as cats,” chuckled Cats’ frontman Lenny Batuik.

Blues, country, rock, jazz – it’s all in their repertoire. Whatever they choose to play on any given day is based on how the spirit moves them.

The Cats, formerly known as Lenny and the Johnny Cats, gelled around 2000, performing their first gigs at The Trail Saloon located where The Rink Bar and Grill last stood.

Since then, the Cats have hosted open jams at the Castle Rock and Morinville Zoo to name a few bars. From week to week, the Cats never know who will show up to play. While some musicians prefer playing with a steady group, Batuik, John MacKenzie, Jerry Lutz, Bob Meunier and Dominic Music have thrived on the unexpected.

“One of the things we do is switch instruments – guitar to guitar or guitar to drums or drums to bass. People like it.”

One-man band

Matthew James Potter, on the other hand, never has a need to switch instruments. Dubbed “the one-man band,” Potter plays harmonica, acoustic slide guitar and stomp box simultaneously.

The blues-roots musician first moved to St. Albert four years ago and is just starting to get recognized. Among his recent accomplishments, Potter is part of the community initiative Rhythm Group, a scattering of musicians that perform at La Crema Caffé on the last Friday of every month.

Potter is eager to expand his talents and invites the community to dance the night away at the Spring Fling.

“It’s a great cause. Anytime we can play music and raise money for a great cause, I’m always there to play.”

A midnight lunch will be served. Call 780-458-7841 or 780-913-8253 for more information.


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