On Stage with Mike Jones
Now that we’re solidly into 2019, I think it’s important to celebrate some of the many great accomplishments in both the arts scene and the food & beverage scene from 2018! We saw an increased live music presence in 2018 with more and more venues coming on board and promoting regular opportunities for local acts to strut their stuff. Here are some of my favourite things from Fort McMurray’s past 365 days and what to look forward to in 2019. These are in no particular order, and the opinions of just one dude who wishes he could see everything but definitely missed a few!
Favourite New Band:
The Radium Scouts
Named after a boat at the Fort McMurray Heritage Society Marine Park – these guys had a heck of a year while opening for artists ranging from Donnie Dumphy and The Consoles as well as a stellar set at this summer’s Rock 4 Layla fundraiser.
Honourable Mention: Scary Forever, Gingerella
Watch out for in 2019: The Borderpines. Brothers Chris & Andrew Pottie have already made a huge splash in the Fort McMurray music scene but this stuff is next level. Look out for their album “Mother By Nature” in early 2019.
Favourite Theatrical production:
Keyano Theatre Company
“The Drowsy Chaperone”
SURPRISE! This Broadway worthy production showcased so many of Fort McMurray’s talented stars while introducing us to a whole new crew of stars. This show was equal parts heart, comedy and spectacle.
Honourable Mentions: Theatre; Just Because “A Knight to Remember”, Keyano Theatre Company “Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii”, Keyano Theatre Company “Sexy Laundry”
Most Unique Theatre production: “Salt Water Moon.” Set amongst the backdrop of the Marine Park ,this two hander performed by Justin Shaw and Helen Killorn wowed theatre fans with a unique opportunity to witness a show while enjoying an evening under the stars.
Watch out for in 2019: Theatre; Just Because “Macbeth” May 23rd – 25th Keyano Recital Theatre
Fort McMurray Food Festival.
Thanks to the countless volunteers, this festival got taken to a whole new level this year featuring some brand new events including “Boots N’ Brews” which turned into one of the biggest parties of the summer!
Watch out for in 2019: Ditto. This year’s Food Fest is set to be even bigger and better. Stay tuned for dates coming soon!
Favourite new venue:
Prime on Franklin.
Showcasing The Veins during the Best Pub Food Club crawl and packing the house on New Year’s Eve with Craig Moritz and Friends of Jack it’s safe to say this place will be hosting some great shows in the future.
Watch out for in 2019: King Street Theatre. After extensive renovations to the Fort McMurray Composite High School including the adjacent District Recording Studio the King Street Theatre is ready to host all ages theatre and music events in the new year starting with The Borderpines CD release party in January.
Favourite New Comic: Renee Manners
As someone who’s worked with Renee on the Theatre; Just Because dinner theatres “The Awesome 80’s Prom” and “A Knight to Remember” – we already knew this lady was very funny. She took the leap into stand up comedy this year and will have her first headlining shows in February at Bailey’s Pub so 2019 proves to be even bigger.
Watch out for in 2019: Cindy Rivers Hann. This very funny performer has already been making amazing waves in 2018 and is only just getting started. Maybe YOU could be the one to look for in 2020 – try your skills at Amateur Comedy Night every second Tuesday at Bailey’s Pub. Like Fort McMurray Stand Up comedy on Facebook for the schedule.
Favourite comedy Show:
This was Netflix special worthy stuff from four great comics in our region Justin Shaw, Erica Moeskau, Dylan Thomas – Bouchier and Dave Boutilier. Best of all, the night was in support of Some Other Solutions
Watch out for in 2019: Erica Moeskau presents “Fit-Ish.” In addition to the return of Spare Change on March 1st at Keyano, at time of publication there were already SIX special shows announced for the early months including Erica Moeskau theming her next show around getting back into shape after having her first child in 2018.
Twisted Gears Studios
If you’ve got some time to kill (and don’t we all, really) give Zachary Barrett and his crew a few minutes out of your day and follow along with their brilliant Tabletop RPG adventures.
Favourite concert of 2018:
LANCO at Summer Sounds FM
Headliner Kip Moore had everybody singing along and the rainy day was packed with tons of performances from some of Canada’s finest Country stars throughout the day but it was easy to see Nashville, TN’s LANCO win over tons of new fans with their incredible performance.
Watch out for in 2019: Nickelback. Part of the Summer Sounds concert series (which also includes Carrie Underwood on May 30th) you can expect to see more than a few of your friends who claim to hate Nickelback in the front row singing along to every word on July 6th when Alberta’s biggest band comes to town. Monster Truck opens.
Favourite local concert of 2018:
Joey D Tribute
Darren Ehler and Steve Crowe went all out for this tribute to long time favourite Fort McMurray musician Joey Delusong who left us in 2015. On the week of what would have been Joey’s birthday, Andrew Coish opened up the evening with his tribute to his later acoustic work followed by The Consoles covering Joey’s years in Fresh Cut Lime and Crooked. The night was capped off with Abandin All Hope playing their 2008 album “Victims of Mockery” (which Joey was heavily involved in) front to back.
Favourite celebration of the arts: Midnight with Warhol Wood Buffalo Excellence In Arts Awards
Expanding from one room to two the Arts Council Wood Buffalo really knocked it out of the park with this one. Justin Sha……pardon me, Andy Warhol opened up the evening and the new duo of Gingerella featuring Diana Moser and Ron Schultz brought this fun evening to a close.
Favourite Concert Series: Tavern Tributes
The brainchild of Buffy-nominated Andrew Pottie. This bi monthly event features local musicians coming together to perform a full set of covers in tribute to some of their favourite artists. This year saw such acts as diverse as The Black Keys, Stan Rodgers, The Distillers and even the mighty Pantera. A major highlight was the group of guys that make up Kashmir Outside taking on the infinitely complicated Led Zeppelin. The show was so well received, the group was brought back for the Food Truck Showcase which shut down a portion of Franklin Avenue in July
Favourite film event
Long form: Nerdvana the Series
Years and years of work paid off huge for the Nerdvana the Series crew who released their first season to great fanfare both locally and abroad. Hard work pays off for this incredibly talented crew.
Short form: Zero Loss “Lost Map/Secret Path”
Wood Buffalo Media Group have shown a real knack for making awesome music videos and they gave this musical masterpiece a beautiful Fort McMurray backdrop. The song itself is a 7 minute roller coaster featuring the incredible lyrics of Xach Edward, blistering bass licks of Kristen Duhamel and tour-de-force drumming of Glen Miller.
Favourite local release: 3 Fat Daddies “Hangry.” If you like your punk rock nice and fast the Daddies have got your fix!
Honourable Mention: LadySaint “Sunflower”
Watch out for in 2019: In addition to the already mentioned CD release from The Borderpines, rampant speculation has it the man they call “Thunderwolf” has something up his sleeves.
The cast of Keayno Theatre Company’s “The Drowsy Chaperone” performs the Act One closer “Tequila Surprise”.
The Radium Scouts perform at the Rock 4 Layla fundraiser. Held at the Bob Lamb Bandstand, the event raised $5,000 for Layla Cox a local 3 year old diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma.
Country 93.3’s Mike Jones, Mr. Mike’s General Manager Mike Durocher and RMWB Ward One Councillor Mike Allen pose at the Grand Opening for Mr. Mike’s Fort McMurray
Abandin All Hope perform their album “Victims of Mockery” at the Tavern On Main on December 14th , 2018. The night was part of a celebration of life and music for former Abandin guitarist and local scene legend Joey Delusong who passed away in 2015.