On Stage with Mike Jones - Favourites of 2019
It honestly seems like yesterday I was writing the article with some of my favourites from 2018. Did this year absolutely blow by for anybody else or was it just me? I was incredibly blessed this year to get to make my Directorial debut for the ADFA One Act Festival with a script I had written, and the blessings kept coming as I was able to be a part of the team who brought the massively popular Wood Buffalo Ribfest to Snye Point Park.
Anyways that’s enough self-reflection before I start thinking about how many Whiskeys were drunk and how many pizzas were consumed and make some unrealistic New Year New Me resolutions. Let’s talk about the amazing people who make Fort McMurray tick.
Here are some of my favourite things from the past year and what to look forward to in 2020 (no more 20/20 vision jokes, please). Remember, these aren’t in any particular order and are just the opinion of one guy who probably drinks more Jameson’s than he should!
Favourite Breakout Band:
The Drink Flamingo Project
The name had been teased around but not much was known about Craig Moritz and Tyler Whelan’s new project until they took the stage at Heritage Village for Boot’s N’ Brews. Joined by fellow Fort McMurray musicians Mark Stewart, Darryl John and Tyson Coombs they made the crowd feel like they were on a beach in Cancun even though it was pouring rain! Look for new music from them in the new year.
Honourable Mention: Rob Banks
Although they’ve been around for a little while Rob Banks seemingly came out of nowhere with a batch full of awesome original music and an epic hard rock cover of Garth Brooks “The Thunder Rolls” that needs to be heard to be believed. They also did the honours of opening up for the mighty Trooper in front of thousands of people at Wood Buffalo Ribfest – no easy feat!
2018 Winner: The Radium Scouts
Watch out for in 2020: JFR
Jean-Francois Roy just finished launching new French language music in Quebec, up next for Jean is more originals surely ready to crush our eardrums.
Most welcome reunion of 2020: Hit Or Miss
The length of time since their last show really depended on who you asked, but almost everyone would agree it was far too long ago. It was something special to see Andrew Coish, Kenny Fitzpatrick, Paul Cooke and Blake Danson back on stage together to play some of their nostalgic favourites such as the “Dinosaurs” song and a cover of Taking Back Sunday’s “Cute Without the E (Cut From The Team)”
Favourite Theatrical production:
Keyano Theatre Company - “Lend Me A Tenor”
My stomach legitimately hurt from laughing so much after leaving this incredibly directed Farce. The way each actor played off each other plus the sight of Jason Beck in a bellhop suit made this one of the funniest evenings of the year!
Honourable Mentions: Theatre Just Because “Ahoy”, Keyano Theatre Company “Mamma Mia”, Theatre; Just Because “Macbeth”, Catalyst Theatre “The Invisible: Agents of Ungentlemanly Warfare”, Westwood High : “Barefoot In Nightgown by Candlelight”
Most Unique Theatre production: “Freeing Heaven’s Secrets” Symmetree Theatre
Directed and written by Luay Eljamal this show was an absolute brilliant use of the sensory experience that the theatre can provide. Built with several hundred sound cues and staged in the “alley” seating formation were among the many reasons this was not your ordinary night at the theatre
Watch out for in 2020: Evil Dead The Musical
Well it’s technically being held in 2019 but after press time; I can’t wait to see this show – Fort McMurray’s first with a “Splash Zone”!
2019 Winner: The Drowsy Chaperone
Fort McMurray Food Festival
Thirteen events in 10 days. What are they, NUTS? Despite less than ideal weather this week of theatre, pub crawls, comedy, dancing and of course tons of food was capped off by an epic rainy performance from Canadian country artist Aaron Pritchett.
Watch out for in 2020: Ditto. Just wait til you see what we have in store for you!
Favourite new venue:
Welcome back Paddys! Sporting a brand new look but still just as welcoming as ever it was awesome to catch guys like Dan Tulk, Max Noseworthy, Tyler Whelan and Mike Saunders on the Paddy’s stage. Bonus: It’s my new favourite bar for meetings thanks to the great acoustics inside their new “Irish Snugs”
Watch Out For In 2020: The Fort McMurray Golf Club
Having only hosted a few events so far including Brand Connect’s Diamond Royale Gala and a Taste of Dinner En Blanc – it’s safe to say we’ve only scratched the surface of what the new clubhouse is capable of.
2019 Winner: Prime On Franklin
Favourite comedy Show:
The Roast Battle
Presented by Erica Moeskau Comedy this hilarious evening of comedy was NOT for the sensitive as some of Fort McMurray’s best absolutely tore each other to shreds before hugging it out afterwards!
2019 Winner: Spare Change
Favourite Touring Concert of 2019:
Bryan Adams at Summer Sounds FM
When MacDonald Island announced a massive trilogy of shows for Shell Place, admittedly this was the show I was the least excited about. And though I was out of town for Nickelback and still loved the heck out of Carrie Underwood there was something about this show. With the legendary Sloan giving us an all too brief opener Bryan Adams took the stage early and stayed there for a long while all the while it sure seemed like he was having as much fun as the audience.
Honourable Mention: The Prairie States at Wood Buffalo RibFest, High Valley at The Journey Tour, Carrie Underwood at Shell Place, Cancer Bats at The Den, Slowcoaster at the Tavern On Main, Emerson Drive at the Keyano Gala.
Watch out for in 2020: High Valley and Eli Young Band featuring Jade Eagleson, MacDonald Island May 22nd
While we await the lineup announcements of the Fort McMurray Food Festival, Wood Buffalo Ribfest and of course the Summer Sounds FM Concert Series – Brad and Curtis Rempel return to the Mac a year after arguably stealing the show at The Journey Tour and bringing along a huge American act in the Eli Young Band!
2018 Winner: LanCo at Summer Sounds FM
Favourite local concert of 2019:
Tavern Tributes #8 - The Tragically Hip
Although I unfortunately missed the amazing Pink Floyd tribute night I was absolutely blown away by this faithful rendition to one of Canada’s most iconic bands. I’ve seen many Tragically Hip cover bands over the years ranging from boring to downright awful – but Max Noseworthy, Jeremy Rice, Tyson Coombs and Mike & Andy Saunders absolutely delivered a classic set this night before a jam-packed Tavern. Shoutout to Francesco Rizzutto who opened the evening with a fantastic Johnny Cash set.
Runners- Up: Drink Flamingo Project at Boots n’ Brews, Volt CD Release Party, Garrett Gregory at Boomtown Casino, Bob Ross Quartet at Tavern, Zero Loss and Duke & The Pacemakers at Tavern.
2018 Winner: Joey D Tribute Show
Favourite Concert Series:
It should be no surprise to see this return for a second consecutive award. I regretfully missed the Sixth and Seventh renditions featuring Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd but both earned rave reviews. In addition to the earlier mentioned 8th installment, Tavern Tributes #9 was all about the rock which featured another at capacity Tavern on Main rock out to Kristen Duhamel as Against Me!, Good Spread as the Glorious Sons and members of Fort McMurray’s punk scene as Blink-182 for the full album “Take Off You Pants and Jacket”
2018 Winner: Tavern Tributes
Favourite film event:
Hunting the Jackalope
Directed by Brieanna McCutcheon and starring Matt Salem this seven and a half minute short for Shaw Spotlight is a must watch!
2019 Winner: Nerdvana The Series (Long form) Zero Loss/ Wood Buffalo Media Group “ Lost Map/Secret Path” (Short Form)
Favourite local release:
An Unprecedented FOUR-WAY TIE!
A four way tie, you say? To those who would call this a cop-out, I say….. yes, it is. But each of these albums represents a different style and deserves to be sought out!
Volt “The Grand Deception”
The Radium Scouts “Waterways”
The Borderpines “Mother By Nature”
2018 Winner: 3 Fat Daddies “Hangry”
What to look for in 2020: As mentioned earlier expect new music from Rob Banks and JFR – but what the Fort McMurray music scene really needs is an album from Zero Loss. SOMEBODY SIGN THESE GUYS ALREADY!
Favourite new restaurant: The Banquet
From the folks that brought you the ever-popular Canadian Brewhouse comes the world debut of a brand new concept The Banquet. I have enjoyed myself on all three levels of this monstrosity of a bar with late summer nights on the Heated Rooftop Patio, crushing some bowling in the basement or dancing the night away with DJ Q-Pid on the main floor.
2018 Winner: Mr. Mikes
What to look for in 2020: Details are scarce but rumours are rampant that there’s something “brewing” downtown.