4 must-see musical shows at the High Performance Rodeo

Musician Kenna Burima says there is more to the High Performance Rodeo than theatre. Here are four mostly musical events to keep an ear out for at this year's festival.

Kenna Burima chooses 4 musical highlights from performance festival

High Performance Rodeo has set the bar high in past years by featuring such music luminaries as Brian Eno and Laurie Anderson. 

Though there are no big names in music included in this year’s program, music lovers can still get a bit of a fix with some offerings from the rodeo.

Calgary Carillon Celebration: Tower-Trees by Tona Ohama

Tona Walt Ohama, an electronic recording artist, works on a composition at his Calgary studio. (Courtesy of Jenn Pierce)

I’ve lived in Calgary now for 18 years and had no idea those bells I heard at noon downtown were actually coming from the Calgary Tower and are played on a keyboard instrument called a carillon. I was also happily surprised to discover I’m not the only one who actually loves the Trees sculpture outside Bankers Hall. 

The elusive, mainly Calgary-based electronic recording artist Tona Ohama has composed two soundscapes utilizing two iconic Calgary structures, the Calgary Tower and the Trees sculpture as inspiration and location that will play for the duration of the rodeo.

Jan. 9 to Feb. 1  

Stephen Avenue Mall 

All the Way Cabaret by One Yellow Rabbit and Guests

Michael Green, Denise Clarke and Andy Curtis of Calgary's performance company, One Yellow Rabbit. (Courtesy One Yellow Rabbit)

You think you have got the Rabbits pegged and then they go and do something weird, different — rabbity.

All The Way Cabaret is about surprises. There will be music, possible nudity (I’m only guessing here), dance, laughs, high jinks and who knows what else! It’s the Rabbits and it’s the closing party for the rodeo, so chances are it’ll be wild.

Two nights only, featuring newly minted Order of Canada recipient Denise Clarke, the mysterious Blake Brooker, the One Yellow Rabbit team and the many featured and fabulous local performers and entertainers who grace stages around Calgary.

Jan. 31 and Feb.1 

Big Secret Theatre

Young Drunk Punk by Bruce McCulloch

Certainly at the top of the musical list is legendary Kids in the Hall member Bruce McCulloch’s autobiographical show Young Drunk Punk.

If you’re like me, you never tire of the stories of Calgary’s music venues in the 1980s — the old Westward, The National, Ten Foot Henry's. From what I can tell, you couldn’t throw a beer bottle without hitting someone connected to One Yellow Rabbit back in the day.  

Expect elevated stand up comedy steeped in Calgary punk history. And the best part? Shadowy Men on A Shadowy Planet guitarist Brian Connelly will be joining McCulloch on stage.

Jan. 16-18

Martha Cohen Theatre

Boom by Rick Miller

Anyone who has the cojones to play the ghost of Canadian musical icon Glenn Gould deserves my respect. Check out Rick Miller's website for information on his performance piece Glenn Gould Variations.  

Gould aside, Rick Miller's performance is a tour-de-force. He brings 25 years of pop culture to life through music, dance and visual art in his one man show.

Using his skills as an impersonator, singer, and multilingual actor, Miller promises to show the audience “a thoroughly modern take on historical events,” portraying the world's most influential politicians, activists and musicians.

Jan. 15-19 

Max Bell Theatre

About the Author

Kenna Burima

Kenna Burima is a Calgary-based musician, broadcaster, educator, curator and writer. She splits most of her time between the organ-punk of The Pygmies, sweaty garage-rock of Beaver Squadron and a solo rock cabaret project under her own name. Burima is excited to finally be releasing her debut solo album April 2014 at the Ironwood Stage and Grill.