Categories: Entertainment

Live on New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is the biggest night of the year with masquerades, midnight kisses and popping champagne corks.

So why waste it?

There are plenty of party possibilities right in town that range from glitz and glamour to low-key and casual. Most local venues are rolling out the red carpet with entertainment options from elegant fine dining to raucous revelry.

And when that glimmering ball drops in Times Square, everyone will unite to quaff a glass of his or her favourite bubbly. Check out the local entertainment listed below and start 2013 with the good luck charm of friendship.

The Emeralds New Year’s Eve Gala

Apex Casino

24 Boudreau Road

Gala buffet at 7 p.m. Dance 9 p.m.

Tickets: $95

Reservations requested 780-460-8092

The Emeralds have been a staple of the Edmonton music scene since 1970. That’s 42 years – virtually an unbeatable record.

“And we’re going to keep doing it until we get it right,” chuckles band leader/saxophonist Allan Broder.

The six-piece dance band has recorded 29 albums resulting in six golds, two platinum and one double platinum. Recognized for their achievements, the band was inducted in Edmonton’s Cultural Hall of Fame in 1997.

Decade after decade, they have successfully entertained several generations.

“Our choice of music is important. We do a lot of cover tunes and that seems to be part of the continuing success of The Emeralds,” Broder explains.

With 500 tunes they can play on the spot, a listener is just as likely to hear Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman and the Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody as Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire and Elvis’ It’s Now or Never.

Guitarist Terry Kole also plans to cement the evening with a tribute to Hank Snow, Willie Nelson, Elvis and Cash complete with costume changes.

“Tell people that if they come, they will have a great time.”

Mourning Wood

Apex Casino Vee Lounge

24 Boudreau Road

Prime beef plated dinner at 8 p.m. Dance 9 p.m. $60

Reservations 780-460-8092

Mourning Wood is one band that’s determined to rock the crowd and set audiences’ pulses racing.

With a repertoire of 150 cover songs from the 1970s to the ’90s, these St. Albert rockers take pride in not repeating songs.

“If a person came out three nights in row, they wouldn’t hear the same songs,” says vocalist Luc Riopelle, the only original band member from their founding in 2003.

More importantly through their experience in the business, they’ve discovered that music fans are attracted to classic songs with staying power.

“What’s different about our band is not only the sheer magnitude of our song list, but also the variety of rock we play,” Riopelle said.

Ultimately everyone is out to party and Mourning Wood is preparing a blast.

“We like to keep it upbeat. There will be fewer slow songs. We’re going to keep it upbeat so the dance floor will be friendly.”

There will however be a change in the band lineup. Regulars Greg Williamson (drums) and Steve Vincent (bass) will be playing in Jasper with Tupelo Honey.

Replacing them for the New Year’s Eve gig is Don Blais (bass) and Stacy Arbeau (drums) along with regulars Luc Riopelle (vocals/rhythms) and Chris Vincent (lead guitar).

“We are going to be the most dance-friendly band in town. We’re high-energy rock and we cater to every generation. And if you don’t like the band, you can go gambling in the casino. Who knows? It could be a profitable evening for you.”

Dawn in the City

Celtic Knot

388 St. Albert Trail

Tickets: $30 for a three-course meal, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

After dinner, dance only $10

Reservations requested 780-470-5668

Bernal Ibarra, lead vocalist for Dawn in the City, likes to think of his five-piece as the best-kept secret in Edmonton.

“And I’m proud of that,” says Ibarra who founded the band in 2006 with an interesting blend of classic rock, funk, R&B, Latin and soul. He’s dubbed it a “funk and roll experience.”

Dawn in the City has certainly gained a toehold in the area. In 2011 they were nominated at the Edmonton Music Awards as Artists to Watch for their CD Groove in Every Stitch.

As creative differences emerged, the lineup changed at the beginning of 2012. It now consists of Ibarra, his wife Andrea Dawn (bass), Burke MacLean (drums), Brian Ryder (guitar) and Louise Dawson (vocalist).

“It’s the tightest we’ve had so far,” Ibarra says. “We’ve nailed down the sound and dynamics and I feel we’ve become a real powerhouse.”

Several crowd favourites on their song sheet include Honda Civic, a song with a bootie shakin’ reggae rhythm that gets everybody dancing, and Rhythm Shakin’ Woman, a disco song about letting loose in the zone.

“The blend of influences is so diverse, I guarantee you won’t find another band in the city that combines it so skilfully.”

Ibarra encourages fans to check out the website at www.dawninthecity.com for samplings and free downloads of their music.

Stu Bendall

Crown & Tower Pub

11 Bellerose Dr.

Steak and lobster dinner from 6 to 9 p.m.

Entertainment 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Free

Reservations requested 780-459-3393

British singer Stu Bendall really knows how to kick a New Year’s Eve party into high gear with some of his biggest rock influences – The Beatles, Coldplay, Oasis, Radiohead, Australia’s Crowded House and America’s sweetheart Bon Jovi.

The former Royal Marine learned how to play the guitar when stationed on a desert island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

“There wasn’t very much to do. I bought a guitar and two music books,” said Bendall, describing his unusual entry in the music biz.

After leaving the marines, he performed at ski resorts in Austria and Turkey before moving to Australia where he played at a backpacker’s bar and later owned it.

Several years ago, Bendall and his Canadian wife, who he met in Australia, decided to make Alberta home. Now in the automotive industry by day, Bendall continues to rev up his act with a repertoire of about 600 songs.

The solo gunslinger has played more than a few year-end gigs.

“Everyone is out to enjoy themselves on purpose. And I’m enjoying making people have a nice time. I quite enjoy the responsibility.”

Dahlia Wakefield and X-Factor

LB’s Pub

23 Akins Dr.

Buffet dinner and dance $40, dance only $20

Dinner 7 to 9 p.m. Dance 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Reservations requested, 780-460-9100

Al Dobish isn’t shy about his support for live concerts.

“If we supported live entertainment like hockey, this would be the record capital of Canada,” says Al Dobish, owner of West End Rock Shop.

He’s also the driving force behind country-classic rock band Dahlia Wakefield and X-Factor, a popular powerhouse trio that packs in the more intimate venues.

“We musicians crave those little musical fixes,” Dobish says. “We go gigging and we gig until it gets magical.”

Dobish slowly put together his trio after Al Tymofichuk came to work with him. On one particular slow day, Tymofichuk took one of the store’s guitars and played melody after melody.

“I heard him play different guitar parts and I could tell he took the guitar seriously.”

Later Dobish spotted Wakefield at a Grant MacEwan performance and was hooked.

“She’s a good looking girl with powerhouse vocals,” Dobish said. “Pitch-wise she was right on. Timing-wise she was amazing. Basically, she was very dynamic.”

Pumped for New Year’s Eve, these guitar totin’ desperadoes are putting their game face on three sets. Not one to plan a set list, the trio improvises on the spot, an element that enhances their dynamic reputation.

Expect a song list with anything from Shania Twain and the Dixie Chicks to Eric Clapton, and oh yes, Auld Lang Syne.

“Come on down,” Dobish said. “We’ll have a great time. I guarantee it.”

Deejay A.J.

O’Maille’s Irish Pub

398 St. Albert Trail

Admission: $30 for a three-course meal from 5 to 9 p.m.

Dance at 10 p.m. No charge after 9 p.m.

Call 780-458-5700

Deejay A.J. returns to O’Maille’s to spin a few yarns and more than a few records.

Founder of A.J. Events, the former St. Albert resident has entertained in the Greater Edmonton area since 1981 playing a mix of Top 40 dance tunes from Rhianna to Lady Gaga to Keith Urban.

A bit of a showman with his electric keyboard, guitar and MP3 laptop, A.J. is gonna move with the groove. So get ready to party.

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.