The Strumbellas @ Almonte Old Town Hall, Sat., January 18, 8 p.m., $30

I rarely get the chance to provide a concert review in this column, but in the case of The Strumbellas it makes perfect sense. The Toronto-based band from Lindsay is in the Ottawa Valley three weekends in a row. I could save you money if they aren't worth the drive. Unfortunately for your wallet I'm about to implore you to do yourself a favour and make the trip to Almonte Saturday night, if you don't already live there.

The sold-out show at Zaphod's last Saturday was everything you want a show to be: raucous energy, engaging stage banter without too much chat, and a set list that felt like hit after hit, even if a tune was brand-new to me. Sure every harmony wasn't spot-on, but that was probably due more to the sheer level of output from the six-piece band than an inability to hit the right note.

Carolyn Mark

Carolyn Mark hosts a hootenanny beginning at 4 :30 p.m. at the Black Sheep Inn Sunday. (Photo by J McLaughlin)

As I tweeted that night: move over Elliott Brood, and make room for The Strumbellas in my heart. Luckily we don't plan on giving Elliott another sibling, because Strumbella doesn't roll off the tongue as easily. For downtowners Almonte is a mere 52 km away, only 28 if you're housed in Stittsville. Or, check out The Strumbellas at The Branch in Kemptville next Friday, and score yourself some delicious smoked meat there too.

Rational Youth @ Zaphod Beeblebrox, Saturday, Jan. 18, 9 p.m., $12 advance

I know 80s nights are a popular thing for those wanting to shake it on the dance floor on any given weekend. So, why not groove to some live retro synth-pop, which many bands are making nowadays, but which is actually from the 1980s? Eighties bands were obsessed with the cold war, the USSR and its affiliated countries, and of course, krautrock. Rational Youth are no exception: their 1981 debut album is titled Cold War Night Life.

This Montreal four piece was part of the first wave of new wave, and wet the sand for the likes of our own Silkken Laumann and Hilotrons to upgrade and modernize the synth sound. Rational Youth has had more hiatuses than a body builder has hernias, but just like neon and synth-pop itself, they're back.

Carolyn Mark's Hootenanny Revue @ The Blacksheep Inn, Sun., Jan. 19, 4:30 p.m., $10 advance

The Strumbellas

The Strumbellas are back in eastern Ontario this weekend, this time at the Almonte Old Town Hall Saturday. (Courtesy of CBC Music)

One last tip, for Sunday, takes you to Wakefield to The Blacksheep Inn. There is an afternoon soiree happening out there hosted by the lady who is always last to leave the party: Miss Carolyn Mark. Among the guests at her on-stage hootenanny: Luther Wright, Jenny Whiteley, and the voice I personally think is Canada's first lady of real country crooning: Oh Susanna. I wish Susie toured more often, but she doesn't, so catch her while you can. There is a huge list of folks making appearances and it'll be a lot of fun with Carolyn at the helm.

Music listings

Saturday, January 18

  • Trouble Clef w/ Catriona Sturton @ Raw Sugar, 8 p.m. doors $10.
  • Weird with Cats + The Cowards @ The Rainbow, 9:30 p.m., $TBD.
  • The Tony D Band @ The Rainbow, 9:30 p.m., $TBD.
  • Lynn Miles @ NAC Fourth Stage [SOLD OUT].
  • Michael Kaeshammer @ NAC Studio [SOLD OUT].
  • Rational Youth @ Zaphod Beeblebrox, doors 8 p.m., $12 advance.
  • trekan @ Gigspace, 953 Gladstone Ave. Roddy Ellias - guitars, Petr Cancura - clarinet, mandolin, saxophone, Andrew Downing - cello, bass  7:30 p.m., $20.
  • Navy Skies + Another City + Hearts & Mines + Port Manteau @ Avante Garde Bar, 10 p.m. $TBD.
  • Chris MacLean @ The Branch, Kemptville 9 p.m., $10.
  • Chuck Karn @ Kaffe 1870, Wakefield, 9 p.m., $TBD.
  • Fiftymen + The Mayhemingways @ Irene's, 9:30 p.m., $TBD.
  • The Strumbellas @ Almonte Old Town Hall (Folkus Series) 8 p.m., $30.
  • Josef Mieto Cd Release Show @ J.R Baileys Saloon, Brockville, Ont., 9 p.m., $10.
  • DJ ACRO + DJ SHUB (of a Tribe called Red) + Gary Franks & Adam Saikaley of Ceremony w/ Matt Tamblyn @ The Blacksheep Inn, Wakefield 8:30, $7.

Sunday, January 19

  • Carolyn Mark & The Hootenanny Revue: Luther Wright, Jenny Whiteley, Oh Susanna + more @ The Blacksheep Inn, Wakefield 4:30, $10 advance.
  • The Rural Alberta Advantage + Rebekah Higgs @ Ritual, 8:45 p.m., SOLD OUT.
  • Blues Sunday 6-9 p.m. + Ram Tiger 10 p.m. - Late Nite Live w/ Fabien @ Atomic Rooster, free.
  • River City Junction 4-8 p.m. / NeoNera 9 p.m. @ Rainbow, $TBD.
  • Invierno Caliente! Andrew Mah (guitar) + Beverly Robinson (flute) @ Glebe St James United Church, 2:30 p.m., $15 (adult)/ $10 (student/senior).

Tuesday, January 21

  • Nekromantix + Scally Cap Brats + RawRawRiot @ Ritual 8 p.m., $19.50. In each showcase, two different songwriters from various genres perform their work for the general public as well as for other songwriters @ Pressed 7-10 p.m., pay what you can.

Wednesday, January 22

  • Missy Burgess, + Russ Kelley + Bruce Murdoch @ Irene's, 9 p.m., $TBD.
  • Matt Frances @ Rainbow, 9 p.m., $TBD.