Calgary Stampede Music Preview
The Calgary Stampede is just around the corner and, whether you’re a local or a tourist, you won’t be able to get through the season without the usual onslaught of beer, pancakes, and country music. If you’re participating, though, allow me to give you my personal guide to the good music. Places like Ranchman’s and Cowboys, otherwise known as purveyors of bad music masquerading as new country, should be avoided at all costs. If you find yourself unfortunately in those establishments, just tuck into the drinking and you’ll fit right in. And if you are a new country fan, the Nashville North tent on the Stampede grounds is your best bet; they have a decent line-up this year.
Start things off right with the CBC Stampede Breakfast. If you’re lucky, prime minister Stephen Harper will be serving up your flapjacks. If you’re unlucky, you’ll still be there when he starts to sing. However, CBC Searchlight winners Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk will do a proper, professional performance. And there will even be gluten-free pancakes. (See? The CBC cares about everyone.).
Then head over to Mikey’s Juke Joint for Stampede sneak-a-peek night with Tim Hus. Be prepared to two-step – this is the time of year when men honour their mad skills and ask every girl in sight for a whirl around the dance floor.
Make it a Tom Phillips Day. He starts in the Wine-Ohs Cellar at 5:00 for Happy Hour, then heads to kick off Stampede formally at the Ironwood. Since you’re probably already downtown for the parade, it’s a short step to Wine-Ohs to start your drinking early. And Tom is the real Calgary country music deal. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Lindi Ortega and Sykamore hit the Palomino this night. I know where I’ll be – this is a fantastic pairing. Great songwriting, strong voices, real country again from Ortega. Going to be a good night. The problem is, this is a tough one, because Tremoloco is playing at Wine-Ohs. I will probably walk back and forth – which you can do in about three minutes.
In the mood for western swing? The Hackamores play the Ironwood at 2 pm. These guys are Calgary’s musical elite; they finally put a band together that does the best of the old country repertoire.
Step across the street and dig through used albums at Recordland, then head back for dinner, and be a NQ Arbuckle-Deadhead with me. I’m following them across the country to Calgary. Can’t wait for this one either.
Spend today at the Stampede grounds and hang around the Window on the West stage. This stage is a sore point with me, because it’s the best real, Western music you’ll get anywhere in Calgary this week, and the Stampede does nothing to promote it. To find the schedule, you have to navigate to the “Fun and Food” section of the website, know to look for the Western Oasis area, and find the Window on the West stage from there. To make your life easier, here’s the link. If you’re a) old; b) hot; c) want some wine; d) want a nice place to sit, the Western Oasis is good for all of these things. Bonus: real western music.
You’re probably hungover. Go to a Stampede breakfast. They happen every day, they’re always free, and the fried meat and sweet pancakes will have you up and running in no time. Just be careful you don’t end up with your face painted. The Calgary Co-op ones are good – it’s a grocery store, so you’ll know that the ingredients came right off the shelf. Plus, apparently they have “Holy Crap” cereal this year, whatever that is.
Tim Williams plays with the Hackamores at Mikey’s this night. He’s the winner of the Memphis International Blues Challenge this year, so it’s worth making your way to see him while you have the chance, and to catch the Hackamores if you missed them on Sunday.
If, unlike me, you have ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY THREE DOLLARS, check out Shania Twain. There are still some tix left for both the Wednesday and Thursday night shows at the Saddledome. Man, I wish I could see this (see what I did there?).
Another chance to see Sykamore, if you missed her on Saturday. She’s opening for Jessica Stuart at Wine-Ohs. This isn’t your traditional country music, but hey, Calgary has other things happening too. Take a break from the twang and check these two out.
This is gonna be a big day. Get up early and grab your flapjacks, then go to Fluor Rope Square for The Travelling Mabels at 11. When that’s done, go for a lovely lunch at Wine-Ohs Bistro, where Calgary’s hottest new troubadour, T. Buckley, is doing a solo acoustic show. Then you can go downstairs to the Wine-Ohs Cellar for more Tom Phillips at 5, and hang around for the late show with Tin and the Toad. The last time this band played Wine-Ohs, crowds were turned away at the door, so best to be there early.
The Coal Creek Boys play Mikey’s Juke Joint this night. You can spend the day at the grounds throwing up corn dogs on midway rides and recovering with fried Mars bars, losing your taxi money at the casino, and gushing over squealing goats in the petting zoo, and still get to this show later on.
Go see the fireworks you missed because you’ve been at concerts every night. The last night is a good one – and they can be seen from multiple locations in the city.