After a two-years hiatus, it’s time to fill the St. Albert Rainmaker grounds with cowboy hats and loud party music.
St. Albert Kinsmen Club is gearing up for the 55th Rainmaker, one of the city’s largest attractions, which lassos cowfolk and urban revellers eager to let loose.
As a grassroots brand of western Canadian culture, the concerts held Friday, May 27, and Saturday, May 28, feature a mix of eight rock and country bands.
Rock legend Prism is always a hit and kicks off festivities as the feature act on Friday. Opening for the band are Clayton Bellamy, Oil City Sound Machine, and AFTERSHOCK.
Meanwhile, country singer-songwriter Aaron Goodvin closes this year’s slate of artists on Saturday. Opening for the multiple CCMA award-winning headliner are Cory Marks, Chris Buck, and Morinville’s Justin Hogg.
Both 18-plus concerts take place at St. Albert Kinsmen grounds, 47 Riel Dr. Single tickets for the Friday night rock concert are $29.99, while the Saturday night country concert runs at $39.99. They are available online through Ticketmaster or in-person at The Crown & Tower Pub. There are no additional fees for purchases at Crown & Tower.
Friday Rock Night
One of the most significant bands to emerge from Canada’s 20th-century crop of rock and rollers was Prism. Operating at their peak in the 1970s and 1980s, and performing through to the present, the band has released 17 albums, three extended plays, and several videos.
Prism has done it all. It signed to a major label and played stadiums during long-haul tours. They have nothing left to prove except share their classic catalogue with fans.
“We used to pack coliseums, and I’m grateful for the success we had. I’m grateful our music has found a home, especially our all-ages shows. People in their late teens come to our shows. They don’t know who we are and don’t care. They just know they’ve heard our music and they like it,” said Al Harlow, band bassist.
The band enjoyed numerous successes, such as Don’t Let Him Know, Prism’s first U.S. hit peaking at No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock charts. In addition, their song Spaceship Superstar was used as the official song aboard Space Shuttle Discovery during its historic 2011 flight. Other classic rock standards were Take Me to the Kaptin, Flying, Armageddon, Young & Restless, Night to Remember, and Don’t Let Him Know.
Harlow believes although rap and pop dictates current commercial appeal, classic rock still has a niche in the musical lexicon.
“It’s a style that has endured in the same way classical music has endured; the way jazz has endured. On the one hand, hip hop and urban pop country dominate. But there are many styles or rock — guitar-driven rock, keyboard-driven rock, prog rock, punk rock. It’s still with us. It’s still here and enthusiastically enjoyed.”
Clayton Bellamy: The Legendary Life of Tom Petty
Clayton Bellamy has amassed a large musical footprint in the last 20 years. The Bonnyville-born singer-songwriter is primarily known as the creative force behind country artists The Road Hammers as well as Black Mountain Whiskey Rebellion.
Unknown to many fans is Bellamy’s respect for the late Tom Petty, an American rock vocalist, songwriter, musician, and music producer. He led the band Mudcrutch; Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; and was a member of the 1980s' Traveling Wilburys.
“I’ve always had one foot planted in both genres,” said Bellamy. “This show came about because over the course of the pandemic, some friends and I were learning some Tom Petty songs. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to have our own Petty show, and put on our own spin on the anthems and have a night of fun doing it?'”
Bellamy has already showcased a few Petty concerts and tested standards such as Refugee, Here Comes My Girl, and Don’t Do Me Like That with his five-piece band.
“Petty epitomized the best of singer-songwriters. If a bar was set, he was it. He could write great memories, great genre-crossing, generation-crossing songs. He did it all. He’s an elite artist along with Bob Dylan and the Beatles.”
Oil City Sound Machine
For 12 years, Oil City Sound Machine has played major regional events such as the Premier’s Captial Ex Breakfast, the Grey Cup Festival, Taste of Edmonton, Honda Indy Event, Canadian Derby, and No Stone left Alone Gala.
The band performed at the Rainmaker in 2015 and 2019, and due to high demand, the six-piece cover band returns with some of fans’ favourite, instantly recognizable songs. Classics such as Hit Me with Your Best Shot, Africa, Jessie’s Girl, Rasputin, I Will Survive, and Don’t Stop Believing come to mind.
Robert Fernandez (keyboard), Drew Hazlett (guitar), Mike Kuenhe (drums), and Leighton Blomme (bass) provide support to vocalists Mackenzie Dale and Carol-Lynn Quinn.
“We perform all the big rock hits everyone wants to hear. People have a lot of fun when we play and that’s our goal,” said Fernandez. “We are all professional musicians, and it shows in the harmonies and arrangements. Our songs sound like the originals and people notice. We’re a real, life-long band and you notice the chemistry when we play.”
Also, an Edmonton-based cover band, AFTERSHOCK is a five-piece band that plays almost every other weekend. Although the band is a draw at Shakers’ Acres and Bunker’s Sports Pub, they’ve also been introduced to St. Albert audiences at LB’s Pub.
“We started off with harder rock, but now we’re leaning more toward dance rock. It feels good to make people happy after COVID,” said drummer Doug Bodtcher. Joining him is Themesa McKeen (lead singer), Mike Klassen (bass), Tyler Stang (guitar), and Paul Coffey, (guitar).
Bodtcher’s first contact with Rainmaker was as a Boy Scout leader. He organized a troop of scouts to volunteer at the festival in various roles. When Rainmaker concert director, Pat Dower, learned of Bodtcher’s band, AFTERSHOCK was invited to open.
“Pat is really supportive of local bands, and this is a great event. It brings out a lot of people, and we are excited to be part of it.”
Saturday Country Night
The big name on Country Night is the return of hometown boy made good — Aaron Goodvin. Born in Spirit River, but raised in St. Albert, Goodvin never wavered in the belief he could successfully make country music a career.
Two decades into a professional career writing songs, performing on stages across North America, recording several Top 10 hits, and receiving multiple CCMA and Country Music Alberta awards, Goodvin returns to Rainmaker as its headliner.
“I always had really big dreams of opening Rainmaker, but I didn’t know if I’d get there. I truly believe a lot of people lifted me up. Rainmaker is very special to me. I look at it as a comeback, a place not only to play, but to headline is amazing,” said Goodvin. He first performed at the 2004 Rainmaker opening for Emerson Drive and Johnny Reid.
Known for his up-tempo performances, soulful ballads, and heartfelt romantic songs, Goodvin enjoyed a score of Canadian chart toppers with staying powers such as Lucky Stars, Boy Like Me, Lonely Drum, and Woman in Love.
“Lucky Stars is No. 14 on Canada’s country charts and it’s still going strong. Lonely Drum is at No. 55 and that’s after four years. It still won’t go away,” Goodvin said with a laugh.
He has released three singles in the American market and plans a fall tour to test the waters.
“God has been good to us. I enjoy writing songs, but for me I enjoy playing live the most. I’m so excited and so elated to come back and see familiar faces. I want people to know I’m not taking this concert lightly.”
Also on the bill is Cory Marks, a country rocker whose inspirations range from Merle Haggard to Ozzy Osbourne.
“I grew up as a drummer and listened to both country and rock. I still love the edge of rock and roll with country's storytelling,” said Marks.
The North Bay, Ont., singer-songwriter initially planned to attend the Royal Military College of Canada to train as a fighter pilot.
“When things didn’t pan out, I went back home and started playing. My brother’s friend who ran a bar-restaurant suggested I play there until I figured out what to do. Pretty soon, I was playing every bar in town. Then I went further to Sudbury and Ottawa, and then some big festivals,” said Marks.
Although no longer part of the military, the rugged singer remains friends with Canadian Forces Snowbirds and pilots a 1972 Cessna 172, a four-seat, single-engine, high wing, fixed-wing aircraft.
“It’s the ultimate dream — to fly to all these festivals, but with the price of fuel, it’s too expensive.”
Working on a new album, the singer plans to release it in late summer or early fall.
“The songs are a mix of life due to the pandemic and how we’ve been held back and kept waiting. There’ll probably be a few songs about flying and being a pilot. Everything about me connects with life and being a pilot.”
Marks will bring a few new songs to Rainmaker, such as Different Kind of Year, written during the pandemic; Drunk when I’m a High, a boisterous party song; and Empty Bottles, a melancholy, country ballad.
“I’m just looking forward to getting out there and performing live. I’m looking to party with the good people of Alberta.”
During a flight between his cabin in Kelowna and Nashville, Chris Buck chats about his latest romantic hit single, Can’t Beat the View. Released April 8, it quickly shot up to No. 1 on the CBC Country Music chart.
“The response was amazing. I had really good feedback, about 100,000 streams in one month,” said Buck. He plans to release a six-song EP in the fall and is working to develop more mature lyrics, stronger music, and stronger production values.
“My songs are all over the place. I write 100 songs and I cut the best songs. Some songs are fast and some are slow.”
The cross-border singer recently inked a deal with Anthem Entertainment to write five songs a week.
“It’s really cool. You get to meet and write songs with people who have had No. 1 hits in the United States. The first couple of times, it was intimidating. But now I have the confidence to go in and do what I need to do.”
Buck will perform at Rainmaker with a full band.
“Everyone can expect high energy and lots of dancing. Expect to have a fun, upbeat evening.”
After performing at Rainmaker’s last live country concert in 2019, Justin Hogg is back by popular demand. In time for Rainmaker, Hogg released his latest single, That’s How I Know, on April 4.
Produced with Jeff Dalziel, “It’s about wearing your heart on your sleeve and being open about why you love this person,” said Hogg.
The Morinville singer-songwriter's most successful single was the 2019 release of Just Drive, an anthemic song that reached nation-wide radio play and cracked the Top 100 on the Trax Report.
“Living in Morinville, there wasn’t much to do on Friday nights or the weekend. If you didn’t have anything to do for the weekend, you’d get in the car and just drive.”
The singer's professional career started seven years ago, but Hogg is proud he has performed live since the age of 10. Criss-crossing the province, he has performed at Calgary Stampede, Lethbridge’s Whoop-Up Days, St. Paul’s Centre Field Music Festival, and the University of Alberta’s Bar None Cabaret.
When asked about his first Rainmaker opening performance, Hogg described it in touching terms.
“It was the highlight of my career. Being close to home, I brought a lot of people. It probably will be my favourite show to play.”
Hogg will be supported by Brad Durand (drums), Cody Mack (Bass), and Darren Gusnowsky (lead guitar).