Everyone whisks in the new year with a party, possibly preening at an elegant masquerade ball, dancing a sizzling club salsa, chillin’ under exploding fireworks or simply clinking glasses with bubbly.
And the festive local scene is bursting with a variety of talent that covers the musical spectrum from acoustic to electronic, from solos to bands. Check out these entertainers.
Mouring Wood could never be called shy. “We’ll be by far the highest energy performers in St. Albert on New Year’s Eve. We’ll even say the Top 10 in the province,” boasts vocalist Luc Riopelle, an Ecole Secondaire Sainte Marguerite d’Youville alumnus.
Dan Blais (bass), Royce Rak (lead guitar) and Greg Williamson, also drumming for Tupelo Honey, round out the four-piece rock cover band.
Founded by Riopelle and Blais, the band really discovered its sea legs in 2003 after Rak blew everyone away with his amazing guitar riffs. Ironically, no one could agree on the name for the band. Since 2003 was also the year of Kelowna’s forest fires, the band latched onto the moniker Mourning Wood as a salute to lost trees.
It worked. The foursome plays about 60 high-volume, adrenalin infused shows a year with an extensive catalogue of about 150 songs that runs from The Temptations and Beatles to Tool and Velvet Revolver. “We could play three 45-minute sets for three consecutive nights without repeating a single song.”
As a cover band, one of their hallmarks is to learn a new song exactly the way it was recorded. “We want to give artists as much respect as possible. I have a good ear for music and that helps me mimic every lead singer.”
And as for New Year’s Eve, “We’re going to work the crowd into a frenzy. We’re going to play songs we enjoy, but we’re also going to ensure the general public likes them too.”
Possibly one of the most beautiful women on the local country music scene, Danita Lynn truly embodies its soul. She raised kids and cattle on a farm near Plamondon before chucking her rural roots for a rollercoaster career in the industry.
“I was raised in a musical family, but I was too shy to perform. But I figured if Shania can write all her songs, so can I,” says the plucky singer who toured four years with Sweet Tequila after they recorded a self-titled album in Nashville.
“It was tough being on the road in winter, travelling in places like Fort McMurray and Prince George.”
Today Lynn has refocused her priorities into writing and is hoping to record a version of Harlequin’s I Did It For Love with keyboardist Darren Moore.
Straddling an edgy country/rock sound, Lynn has found a special kinship with tunes by Martina McBride, Gretchen Wilson, Miranda Lambert and Alannah Myles. Together with her band, comprised of Ben Samuels (drums), Derek Oja (bass) and Trace Jordan (acoustic guitar), they will perform four 45-minute sets.
“We like to keep people dancing and to keep them energized and having a good time. I really like to see smiles on people’s faces. This has been a tough year for everyone emotionally and financially. It will be nice to bring in the new year.”
Donations for the St. Albert Food Bank are accepted.
Stan Gallant, a Newfoundland transplant, moved to St. Albert and then Edmonton about two years ago. A graduate of the St. Francis Xavier University music program in guitar and composition, Gallant was a natural fit for the acoustic music scene.
Raised by his grandmother on classic rock and old country, Gallant has a repertoire of diverse classics that range from Simon and Garfunkel and Johnny Cash to Elton John and Tom Petty.
When the acoustic singer/musician stands on a stage he prefers to mould his set according to audience requests that can be as varied as Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline to the Eagles Take It Easy.
New Year’s Eve is always a special night for everyone in the room. “There’s a sense of starting over and a rebirth and having a good time. It’s the last kick at the cat before you settle down and get back to work.
Wednesday Morning After developed their chops at The Taphouse through regular Tuesday open mic nights. In fact, that’s how they got their name.
“We’d have a couple of beers and wake up with a headache the next morning. It was fitting,” explains vocalist Dan Bourbonnais, a St. Albert High graduate. The entire band is as homegrown as it gets with A.J. Roulston (acoustic/slide guitar) and Mike Serediuk (bass guitar) also from St. Albert High and Matt Friedmann (drums) from Bellerose.
“We try to mix it up and get a little bit of everything.” With a sound that blends folk/rock/blues/reggae, it’s easy to pinpoint the influences of Bob Marley, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton and Pink Floyd.
Bourbonnais and Roulston write most of their originals that tend towards a light-hearted bluesy feel, both the lovey and drinkin’ buddy blues. Several of the originals they’ll be playing are the self-titled Wednesday Morning Blues, the catchy Going Fishin’ with an upbeat reggae/folk flourish and Leave This Town, a rock-out song about a girl who left.
“You won’t be disappointed. We rock from start to finish.”
In keeping with its Celtic theme, O’Maille’s Irish Pub is hosting St. Albert musician Mark McGoo. A familiar face to bar patrons, the Celtic/rock and roll singer is flying solo with his guitar, a tin whistle and some backing tracks for a fuller sound.
A professional musician with a touring show for over 25 years, McGoo now prefers to keep a profile burning in local venues. “I love the response from people. Not too many people get applause for everything they do,” he says.
McGoo’s repertoire ranges from the lively Celtic rhythms of Barrett’s Privateers to Michael Bublé’s Home and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Proud Mary.
“New Year’s Eve seems to be a romantic couple’s night. They dance. There’s a countdown and everybody kisses.” And for McGoo the fun is just beginning.
For a night of light jazz, check out D.J. Mike Sakaluk spinning some easy listening hits by Frank Sinatra, Michael Bublé and our own lovely Diana Krall.