2017: The Year It Was in Entertainment in Fort McMurray
With a struggling economy, a busy rebuild, and an impassioned municipal election, music and theatre were there more than ever to help us out when we needed an escape. Let’s take a look back at the year it was, and celebrate the accolades of our family, neighbours and friends.
TOP CONCERTS OF 2017
Dean Brody’s Beautiful Freakshow Tour
Shell Place, May 20, 2017
Dean Brody entertained the crowd as only he can...even at one point incorporating a chainsaw solo (yeah, you kind of had to be there). Veterans George Canyon and Aaron Pritchett rocked the few thousand in attendance, and relative newcomers Madeline Merlo and the James Barker Band certainly made a few new fans.
Slayer with Lamb of God and Behemoth
Shell Place, August 15, 2017
In my five years here I don’t think I’ve ever seen a buzz around a show like this one. It seemed so preposterous to some that a band like Slayer would come to our humble abode, but once they did, few questioned the reasons why. Fans moshed, crowd-surfed, headbanged and sang along to every word from all three bands at one of the best people-watching events of the year.
Dallas Smith’s Side Effects Tour
Nexen Energy Fieldhouse at MacDonald Island Park, November 12, 2017
Having caught Dallas earlier in the summer as the surprise Saloon headliner at Big Valley Jamboree, and seeing him hold that unsuspecting crowd in the palm of his hands, it’s clear to see the excitement was just as strong for a show people had already bought tickets to. It seems like Dallas gets better every single time he comes here, which is a scary thought as he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
TOP THEATRICAL PRODUCTIONS OF 2017
Footloose (Keyano Theatre Company)
The amount of time and effort that goes into a large theatre show like this is sometimes taken for granted, but with a show like this, it’s impossible to ignore as the cast draws you in with their infectious energy. Well done!
The Awesome 80’s Prom (Theatre; Just Because)
After a successful dinner theatre the year prior, everyone wondered how they would top Fanny & Manny Tie the Knot. Well, by transporting everyone back to the fabulous decade that was the 1980’s. With a talented cast who relied just as much on improvisation and crowd interaction as scripted work, this was a real crowd-pleaser which, even more importantly, helped raise $65,000 for Waypoints!
The Wrestling Play (Justin Shaw)
One-person shows always come across as an exhausting undertaking (pun intended?) but add in the absurd and physical world of professional wrestling and you know you’re in for a treat. What the audience received was a passionate foray, with equal parts humour and drama.
TOP BARS FOR LIVE MUSIC IN 2017
Boomtown Casino (9825 Hardin Street)
With one of the best dance floors in town, the Boomtown Casino is always a solid bet for live music Thursday through Saturday. Artists always comment on the attentive audiences early in the night who like to catch a show and toss back a few drinks, and always seem to end up on the dance floor by the band’s second or third set. This year saw many great emerging Country artists come through Fort McMurray like Chris Buck Band, Aaron Goodvin, Jamie Woodfin and Tristan Horncastle, along with established vets like Kenny Hess and Jake Mathews. More than just Country, this year also saw excellent tributes to the likes of Elvis Presley and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Tavern On Main (9708 Main Street)
With the undisputed best beer selection in town (seriously it’s not even close) the Tavern On Main is already a great destination for a night on the town. In recent years, under the booking guidance of Dan Tulk, the live music quality has really stepped up bringing in artists from all across Canada with everything from hip hop to punk rock. Add in a newly renovated stage area and it’s easy to see why many uptown folks don’t mind the cab fare on a Friday or Saturday night.
East Village Pub (395 Loutit Road)
As one of the first venues opened after the evacuation was lifted, East Village has been one of the most consistently busy places in Fort McMurray ever since. It’s rare to see a dead Friday or Saturday night. In fact, it’s quite common to see a line forming after midnight. The incredible staff, delicious food and party atmosphere all contribute to its steadiness, but it’s also one of the best places to unbutton that top button and let loose on the dance floor.