For Caitlin North, professional programming presenter for the Arden Theatre, charting a 2021-22 season is equivalent to a first-timer playing Sudoko. The starting clues appear to keep changing squares.
As public-health conditions remain in flux, the cautiously optimistic North introduced a partial season scheduled for September to November.
“This year we’re going to do things differently. We’re going to announce things in pieces,” said North. She added if Alberta Health Services guidelines ease restrictions, more shows for 2022 would be announced later.
The shortened indoor season showcases a mix of seven live presentations and film. It features concerts, a song cycle, a historical film, and a film festival.
Enjoying its 10th straight anniversary at the Arden, the Banff Mountain Film Festival launches the season on Sept. 29. This year’s dare-devil shorts span the world form Himalayan mountain-bike riding and walking a high line in Norwegian mountains to rock climbing in Spain and skiing on Kashmir’s Savage Mountain.
“It’s not only gorgeous cinema, but you see parts of the world you might never travel to. Also, you see what humans are capable of. You get to be an armchair adrenaline junkie,” remarked North.
Juno-Award-winning Steve Marriner and David Gogo, two iconic recording artists with stellar careers, pair up for a night of blues guitar on Friday, Oct. 1.
“The rapport between the two is special. They’re great storytellers. I know them individually and I know how engaging they are. They can go form a blues rock electric sound to a low-key acoustic. They’re quite fluid.”
Following two weeks later, North presents Bye Bye Blues: The Music & the Film, a 1989 Canadian film written and directed by Anne Wheeler. Set during the Second World War, the movie was filmed locally and highlighted the musicianship of George Blondheim, Mike Lent, PJ Perry, and various others.
The Genie-Award-winning film was initially inspired by Wheeler’s mother’s experiences as a dance band musician during the war. Wheeler will attend the Oct. 13 screening and jazz vocalist Mallory Chipman will sing big band songs from the era.
The live world premiere of Dana Wylie’s Makings of a Voice takes place Oct. 14 to 17. The theatrical song cycle is about discovering personal identity. It was originally designed as four-person showcase to be performed live at the 2020 SkirtsAfire Festival in 2020. As COVID spiked, it was reshaped into a one-woman online show.
“But it’s meant to have a backing band. In it, Dana talks about her life and connections to womanhood as a girl, and hearing her mother’s and grandmother’s history and how it impacted them. She wasn’t aware of a lot of it, and she talks of her reflections of her mother, and her expectations as a woman.”
Barney Bentall and the Cariboo Express, whose last Arden show in 2019 was sold out, returns Nov. 6.
“They tour on the holiday season, and they’ve become part of people’s traditions and histories. Barney usually has a rotating cast of characters he brings. I don’t know which ones he’s bringing this time. But he’s guaranteed to bring great artists and he has a great songbook.”
Calum Graham, named one of the world’s Top 30 Guitarists Under 30 by Acoustic Guitar, plays the Arden on Nov. 19.
“He’s a great young classical guitarist. Originally, he was from High River, but he now lives in Vancouver. He’s a super talent with an amazing finger-picking style.”
The first half of the season closes with Tom Jackson: Songs, Stories & Santa Causes on Nov. 23. A Genie Award winner, an Order of Canada recipient, and one of the nation’s beloved philanthropists, the Métis actor has been a national presence since starring in North of 60.
“This one will be a smaller show than Huron Carole. It will be a duo or trio with the same format — storytelling and the holiday spirit.”
Ticket prices range between $24 and $48 plus GST. Tickets went on sale Sept. 14 through the Arden’s new online ticketing system www.tickets.stalbert.ca or at 780-459-1542.
As of Sept. 20, the Arden Theatre requires those aged 12 and over to show proof of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of service, or documentation of a medical exemption.