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    Categories: Entertainment

Rock in the new year

No matter where you are or the type of year you’ve had, you can rely on New Year’s Eve to sail in with a fresh beginning.

There are parties everywhere from the smallest islands in the Indian Ocean to the coldest Siberian village. While some prefer the casual, laid-back home atmosphere, others opt for razzle-dazzle parties with flair.

If you want to venture outside the house but not too far this New Year’s Eve, St. Albert has a roster of eclectic talent coming to town.

Paula Perro and No Foolin’,
LB’s Country Kitchen —
#110, 23 Akins Dr.
Admission: $40 dinner/dance, $20 dance only,
Call 780-460-9100

Paula Perro and No Foolin’ aren’t your traditional 12-bar standard blues bland. They definitely have more of a Chicago progressive guitar driven vibe, yet with a groove oriented percussion section.

“We’re not fooling about music. We’re very serious about it and the experience. We just love to play,” says lead singer Paula Perro. She’s a Newfoundland transplant inspired by Nina Simone who later kick-started her music career with Jam Bone in 1998.

After the Edmonton band dissolved, several members regrouped in 2008 as No Foolin’ and their signature songs swing towards Stevie Ray Vaughn, Etta James and Susan Tedeschi.

“Although we sing covers, our approach is very real, very genuine. We don’t try to sound like the covers we sing. We have our own take,” says Perro. Rounding out the band is Carl Mal (keys), Wayne Gad (sax), Kelly Pikula (drums), Danny Cody (guitar) and Rich Stenson (bass).

“You don’t often get a female fronting a blues band and most of the original covers we sing are voiced by males. It’s a bit of twist hearing a six-piece deliver a big, full sound.”

And Perro is adamant they don’t compromise on music by just filling the air with a tune. “You won’t find a lot of standards in our repertoire. There’s so much wonderful music out there. We choose what we love. Every song is felt and it shows.”

Great Stone Jones,
The Beer Hunter —
386 St. Albert Trail.
Admission: Dinner 7 to 9 p.m., show 10 p.m. $30,
780-418-7867

Great Stone Jones, who played at The Beer Hunter on Halloween, is back by popular demand. They’re the kind of band that gets the feet dancing and fists pumping.

The trio consisting of Gerald Marsh (drums), Steven Sanderson (guitar) and St. Albert’s own Jason Schwab (bass guitar) deliver a hodgepodge of modern rock and classic tunes ranging from the Beatles to Muse.

“We simply wanted a band that was fun. We had been with other bands that were super focused and that was not fun. We wanted to make it a party,” says Schwab. “We play the Top 40 hits in the same style or we add our own twist.”

The threesome has crafted a solid tapestry from Be My Girl, Flagpole Sitta and Sex on Fire to Talk Dirty to Me, Tainted Love and Video Killed the Radio Star.

In addition to their regular light and smoke show, they’ll be dressed to the nines in suits and ties for this black tie event. “It may be formal, but we’re still having fun.”

And Schwab hopes anyone who likes to have a good time will be out to sing Auld Lang Syne. “It’s the start of a new year and if you come, you’re guaranteed to meet and get up and dance with a bunch of new people.”

Brian Maxwell,
Crown & Tower —
19, 11 Bellerose Dr.
Admission: Lobster dinner and free champagne $30,
780-459-3393

Brian Maxwell just moved here from Prince Edward Island in mid-August and couldn’t be happier. “I don’t find the cold as bad. There’s not as much moisture,” says Maxwell who suffers from an arthritic neck injury suffered while playing hockey for a senior A team in Nova Scotia.

He was slammed with a puck and it tore the muscles in his neck. “I got hurt playing hockey and ended up buying a guitar.”

That was 25 years ago and since them Maxwell has developed a repertoire of more than 1,000 cover songs in the Celtic, rock and country genres. And he’s proud of the way he stickhandles a guitar, bass, Dobro and mandolin.

His main inspirations have been legends such as James Taylor, Harry Chapin and The Eagles. “They have a lot of good harmonies.”

Come New Year’s Eve, his wife Laura, a singer with one of those powerful country voices, will step up to the microphone with him and belt out her favourites from Fleetwood Mac, the Dixie Chicks and Lucinda Williams.

“We’re going to have a good variety of music styles. The sound will be good and it will be a good time for all.”

The traditional steak and lobster fest is 6 to 9 p.m. followed by a dance and champagne at midnight.

Duelling Pianos,
Apex Casino’s Vintage Lounge —
24 Boudreau Rd.
Admission: Four course meal $75 per person,
Call 780-460-8092

Kristen Biegel and Jesse Dollimont, a.k.a. the Duelling Pianos, are performing for one of the dressiest new year’s parties in town.

Graduates of the Grant MacEwan University vocal arts program, the two vocalists were introduced by a mutual friend and instantly clicked. “She’s outgoing but laid back. I’m more reserved. She bumps me out and it’s a nice balance,” says Biegel, the duo’s driving force.

The two singer/musicians cover a wide spectrum of styles, basically anything from ballads, R&B, pop, jazz, country, old rock and soul. “We cover the Top 40 from James Brown to Alicia Keyes.”

But every act has a gimmick and in their shtick, the gals ask the audience to make requests. To keep pace with audience wishes, they’ve got about 300 tunes under their belt. “It’s fun. It’s lively. It’s not what you’d expect from a professional piano bar.”

And do they duke it out on the ivories as the name implies? “It’s more of a teamwork setting. If one person doesn’t the know the song, the other person fills in and you pick up the chords on the fly.”

The duo performs three 45-minute sets from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. “It’s fun. You never know what will happen. It’s laid back and a fun way to bring in the new year. And if you want to hear special songs, we’ll try to accommodate you.”

The Ozzy Osbourne Experience,
The Taphouse —
9020 McKenney Ave.
Door 8 p.m., show 9 p.m.
Admission: $10 includes free champagne and party favours,
Call 780-458-0860

Guitarist Danny Campion has pumped out Ozzie Osbourne tributes for the last decade. Together with lead singer Mike Shaw, drummer Terry Okrusko and bass player Cam Beech, the foursome is The Ozzy Osbourne Experience and their explosive, full-throttle show is like no other.

On New Year’s Eve, the foursome puts on a live tribute to the Prince of Darkness, paying special attention to the Randy Rhoads years from before he was killed in an airplane stunting accident in 1982.

“Ozzy is enduring. The passion comes through in his music and live concerts. He’s a definite free spirit. He says what’s on his mind and he has a good sense of humour,” says Campion.

The blistering foursome even plan to tackle Bark at the Moon, an album released after Rhoads’ death. They plan to rip up the stage with Crazy Train and Paranoid as well as a few less played tunes such as Suicide Solution> and Never Say Die, the last song Ozzy wrote for Black Sabbath.

“We are very high energy. We are dedicated to the music and perform it the way it was recorded with all the solos. It’s an accurate representation of what you’d see at an Ozzy concert.”

Not shy about boasting about the band’s musicianship, Campion says, “There are no gimmicks, no props. We let everything come out through the music much like an Oz show. It’s about the roots of music.”

Anna Borowiecki: Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.