Key of A
with Katherine Duncan

Meet Danielle French, Corb Lund is coming to your town

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This week on the Nov. 5 Key of A, you'll get to know Calgary songwriter and filmmaker Danielle French (pictured) and hear the story behind her new album, Miss Scarlett and the Madmen: Dark Love Songs. (You might have seen her do a release show Halloween night at The Needle in Edmonton -- she's got another one planned for Calgary's Wine Ohs Nov 17.)

Corb Lund is touring this month, but he's not playing the big cities -- at least not in Canada. But, if you're in Jasper, Camrose, Red Deer or Lloydminster, you can look for Corb Lund and the Hurtin' Albertans coming to your town between Nov. 14 and 23rd. On the Key of A, you'll hear two songs from his recent album, Things That Can't Be Undone, including Sadr City, told from the point of view of a war veteran, which feels timely as we head toward Remembrance Day.

Plus, smart, catchy, original jazz from the Edmonton outfit Kent Sangster's Obsessions Octet - they've just released an excellent new album called Steppin' Up.


Shelter from the Storm, Lauren Mann & more

A homeless shelter might not be the first place you think of starting a band, but the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab centre hatched Shelter from the Storm -- a group that's just put out a second full-length album, Verses vs. Homelessness.

CBC Searchlight past winner Lauren Mann (pictured above) has left Alberta to settle on the west coast; she's offering her new album, Dearestly, to friends and fans on a pay-what-you-feel basis.

Hear Calgary's SAVK try out an edgier song on their new single; Edmonton's Brock Tyler turns the essence of summer into music on his new EP, Us; and spend A Hot Second with the Velveteins, on that Edmonton band's new effort.

Fast Romantics formed in Calgary (though they now call Toronto home) -- you'll hear their song Julia, which won the $10,000 SOCAN Songwriting Prize this year. (Check out the charming video for the song, here.)

Tegan and Sara -- big international stars, yes -- but they got their start playing tiny coffee houses in Calgary. You'll hear songs from their new release, Love You To Death.  


Wide Cut Weekend, Purity Ring & more

This week, we're highlighting the Alberta artists performing at Wide Cut Weekend -- Calgary's 2nd annual roots music festival, on now through Saturday at midnight. You'll hear songs by festival artists Lucas Chaisson (pictured above,) Justine Vandergrift, Kimberley MacGregor, and Leeroy Stagger.

You'll hear Edmonton's Olivia Street, fronting her band King of Foxes, and supplying guitar and backing vocals on Electric Religious.

Get ready to welcome Purity Ring back to the province, the Edmonton-nurtured duo has been touring the world; they're back in Calgary and Edmonton next weekend with shows and songs from their latest album, Another Eternity.

Plus, you'll hear the new Scenic Route to Alaska track currently in high rotation on CBC Radio 2.


The Northwest Passage launches A_WAKE


This week on the Key of A, help The Northwest Passage celebrate the release of their debut album, A_WAKE, by revisiting a live show they played at Festival Hall last winter. (That's frontman and songwriter Paul van Kampen pictured, above, with thanks to Lauren van Kampen for the photo.)

Watch for The Bombadils, a duo featuring Edmonton violinist/singer/songwriter Sarah Frank, as they tour through Alberta this month with their excellent new album, New Shoes. You'll hear a song from it, along with music by indigenous singer/songwriter Cindy Paul, from her much-nominated new album, The Flight.

Plus, a new album by a brand new Calgary-based record label. Treeline Recordings launches with a compilation called Taking it to Heart, designed to help raise funds and awareness for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Naturally, it includes tracks from a number of local artists, including SAVK -- you'll hear their contribution, Racing Slicks.

Wil (aka William Mimnaugh, the terrific guitartist/songwriter who started his career in Calgary) has a new EP that takes the spotlight off his aggressive guitar chops -- there's a reason his website's url is -- and onto his not inconsiderable gifts as a songwriter, hence the title, SONGS.


The Northern Beauties on a roll

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The Northern Beauties took home an inaugural YYC Music Award for Roots/Folk Album of the Year last weekend; this month they're headed to BreakOut West in Regina in search of a Western Canadian Music Award - if you're in Calgary you can hear them on a BreakOut West kickoff show at Broken City Oct 6 -- we'll give you the chance to hear the live set they played at the CBC Calgary Stampede Breakfast this past July. (That's lead singer/songwriter Todd Stewart with me in the photo above.)

Nominations for the Canadian Folk Music Awards have been released, and three artists from Alberta are on the list. You'll hear Young Performer of the Year nominees Jake Vance and 15 year-old Keltie Monaghan. Matt Patershuk's album I Was So Fond of You gets a nod for producer Steve Dawson - you'll get the chance to hear how he brought Matt's direct, heartfelt songs to life.

Two female country artists from Alberta have new singles; Lindsay Ell is upbeat on her All Alright; Lauren Mayell says, "What goes around comes around" on her new one Better Believe.

You'll get a taste of the new full-length album by Calgary's Boreal Sons; hear Edmonton's Maria Dunn Trio ahead of their show Saturday night at the Calgary Irish Cultural Centre.


Western Canadian Music Award nominees


They say, whether you win or lose, it's an honour to be nominated.

A couple of dozen Alberta artists have a few more weeks to savour the honour of their Western Canadian Music Award nominations before they find out who wins, October 13th.

Whatever the outcome in October, this list of nominees is a great place to start if you're looking for new local artists to support. 

This week you'll hear some top contenders, including double nominee Corb Lund, up for Roots solo and Songwriter of the year for his album Things That Can't Be Undone. Matt Patershuk gets a roots nomination for his 2nd album, I Was So Fond Of You

Brett Kissel of Flat Lake Alberta is a triple nominee -- Break Out Artist and Country Artist of the year, plus an audio engineering nod for his album, Pick Me Up

Rae Spoon's Calgary-produced album Armour is in the running for Rock album, as is Edmonton band The Wet Secrets. Edmonton rapper Arlo Maverick gets a nod for his semi-autobiographical album Maybe Tomorrow; while Calgary's Lexi Strate (pictured above) is a Pop Artist contender for her release, Waves.

Tasman Jude, a reggae band formed in Grande Prairie gets a nod for World Artist of the Year; Calgary's Northern Beauties compete in the Roots category; and the pan-Alberta Hutchinson Andrew Trio make a fine case for local instrumental music with their collaboration with Calgary's Lily String Quartet on their album Hollow Trees.


Ken Stead on ACT Alberta, new Kris Demeanor, Nuela Charles & more

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Okotoks is ​hosting its first Harvest & Bluesfest. Calgary blues artist John Rutherford (pictured above) has been hard at work helping to put it together, and he's featured on the bill; you'll hear a pair of songs from his album Echo Broadcast

In Lethbridge, it's the sixth annual Love & Records Festival Saturday Sept 17, 11am-11pm, which features a swath of talent from across the country, including Calgary's Kris Demeanor -- you'll hear songs from his newest album with his band Cutest Kitten Ever,Entirely New Beast -- which includes songs co-written with Rae Spoon.

Edmonton's Nuela Charles has a new single that's getting some serious spins over on CBC Radio 2; Jesse and the Dandelions bring you True Blue pop on their new album; sample a track from husband and wife team Soap Box Duo (with some great production help from The Royal Foundry's Jared Salte.)

Edmonton songwriter Ken Stead drops by for a chat, ahead of his performance in Fear Has No Place Here: Stories and Songs of Human Trafficking Survivors, which is being held at Trinity Baptist Church in Sherwood Park, Alberta on September 21.

Plus, a new project that uses satire and music to address challenging social issues in a way that speaks to children and their parents; you'll hear a sample of Ben Spencer's Songs for Terrible Children.


Ann Vriend's news, Chris Tarry's Metalwood, Mysterious Barricades


This week on the Key of A, hear about an intimate song circle happening Saturday night at the Blue Chair Cafe in Edmonton, featuring songwriters Rob Heath and Chloe Albert.

Edmonton's Ann Vriend (pictured above) has some news to share: a new single with a clever social media campaign to match, a new record label -- even a new name! She joins me in our Edmonton studio for a chat and some songs.

Catch up with Calgary jazz bassist (and author) Chris Tarry; he's now playing at the centre of NYC's jazz scene, but he'll swing through Alberta next week with his Canadian project, Metalwood. Look for them Fri Sept 16 at JazzYYC's Illumin8 series, at the new DJD Performance Space; and at the Yardbird Suite in Edmonton Sat Sept 17.

​Saturday is World Suicide Prevention Day; you'll hear about a special Cross Canada Concert put together by Edmonton opera singer Elizabeth Turnbull; the Edmonton performance is at U of A's Convocation Hall 4:30-6pm, and features many classical performers, as well as Aboriginal women's trio Asani. Click the link to find out more about this brave and hopeful project, Mysterious Barricades.


YYC Music Awards, Scott MacKay live at the Ironwood

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This Saturday, Sept 3 on the Key of A, celebrate the first ever YYC Music Awards, which get handed out Sept 25, by hearing all 5 nominees in the Pop category: Joceyln Alice, Windigo, Lexi Strate (pictured above,) DJ Kav, and The New Electric.

You'll hear feminist goth rock from Edmonton's Van Halst -- they're set to play the Mercury Room Sept 4th -- plus a new Alberta Strong song by Curtis Butala, with proceeds going to Red Cross disaster relief for the fires in Fort McMurray.

Then settle in for a live set by Scott MacKay, with perfectly matching vocals from his twin brother Ben. Murder ballads to love songs, Scott MacKay's songs take you from darkness to light -- and back again. Hear Scott MacKay and his band, live at the Ironwood Stage, during Sound Off Calgary 2016.


Copperhead live at Festival Hall; Reuben and the Dark strike Olympic gold


This week, Aug 27, you'll hear dark, haunting melodies sung in a soulful, smoky voice, when Calgary band Copperhead takes to the stage of Festival Hall in Calgary.

Plus, recent releases by Alberta rising stars: The Wet Secrets from Edmonton, with their 4-song EP, I Can Live Forever; and Reuben in the Dark's Heart in Two (which you might have heard just last week in a CBC Olympics montage.)

If you missed it, check it out here.