Blenders offers wide range

Jill Barber in town Oct. 4.

Blenders Music will bring a wide range of live music to the Lyric Theatre stage in Swift Current during the 2019-20 concert series.

The lineup for the new season and contest details to win various ticket packages were announced on Aug. 6.

Cultural Festivals Acting Director Shann Gowan is excited about the mix of established musicians and rising stars from across the Canadian music scene that will be part of the new season, which starts in September.

“There's lot in there that I'm really pumped about,” she said. “There's some new names on there that should excite people and some coming back that's worth having back. So it's a really nice, well balanced season.”

Blenders has been bringing live music in a wide range of genres, including folk, blues, rock, world, roots and jazz, to Swift Current since 2002. It is well regarded on the music scene and the Blenders concert series at the Lyric Theatre was nominated in the category of venue of the year for the 2018 Saskatchewan Music awards.

“In Canada we have a really good reputation,” she said. “We get approached by a lot of musicians and a lot of agents that we work with all the time. … We have a good reputation as a real nice room to play at, where the musicians get treated really well, where the audiences are listening audiences. It's not a bar atmosphere. So we actually get a lot of requests and we work closely with the big agencies across Canada.”

The lineup for the season is put together by the Blenders entertainment committee, and they will use their knowledge of the music scene to identify musicians for the concert series.

“Amongst all of us, a lot of industry musical events,” she said. “Then as the season comes closer we put forward the ones we think are on the top of the list and then you just start going out there and finding them. Other ones kind of fall into your lap, because they're going across Canada and the agents reach out and the routing is good, and if it's somebody that fits into your season, then you go with that too.”

There are 12 concerts in the regular season for 2019-20, and there will also be a special concert. The regular season kicks off at the Lyric Theatre on Sept. 20 with a performance by singer and guitarist Steve Hill, who won a Juno in 2015 for blues album of the year.

He performed a few years ago at the Long Day’s Night music festival in Swift Current. He released a new album, The One Man Blues Rock Band, in 2018, and his one-man band style live performance showcases his talent as a musician.

Three-time Juno nominated singer-songwriter Jill Barber also makes a return to the Blenders stage on Oct. 4. This concert will take place at Walker Place. Her performance in Swift Current will be part of her Canadian fall tour. She released a new album Metaphora in 2018 with the hit song Girls Gotta Do. Her enduring popularity as a singer was highlighted in March 2019 when her 2008 album Chances achieved gold record status for selling 40,000 copies in Canada.

Australian singer, songwriter and guitar virtuoso Daniel Champagne will perform on Oct. 19. The concert will take place at the Art Gallery of Swift Current.

This talented musician started writing songs at the age of 12 and he became a professional musician after finishing school. He has established a solid reputation as an acoustic musician who writes poignant lyrics. His appearance in Swift Current will be part of an extensive North American tour.

Blenders will return to the Lyric Theatre for the rest of the concert series on Oct. 26 with a performance by Nova Scotia singer-songwriter Jimmy Rankin. His latest album, Moving East, was released in September 2018 and is a classic East Coast folk-rock record.

Hawksley Workman makes a return to the Blenders stage on Nov. 27. The two-time Juno award-winning singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has released his latest album Median Age Wasteland only a few months ago.

“He is coming with a band this time, and he puts on an amazing show,” Gowan said. “He's quite a performer.”

The acclaimed Regina guitarist and singer Jack Semple, who is both a Juno and Western Canadian Music award winner, will conclude the first half of the 2019-20 Blenders season on Dec. 6. His latest album Can’t Stop this Love was released in September 2018

Blenders will resume with two shows in February 2020. The Edmonton rock ‘n roll band Altameda will make their Blenders debut on Feb. 22. The four-piece band has a sound that combines country with a tinge of Americana and classic rock.

Gowan is looking forward to the return of vocalist Reuben Bullock on Feb. 25, who will be part of the Calgary band Reuben and the Dark. Their music features stripped-down tales and rich harmonies.

“It's been quite a few years since we had him, and since he was here last his star has really gone up there,” she said. “I'm a huge Reuben and the Dark fan. He's music is different and challenging and beautiful to be in. It's just a fantastic show.

Toronto singer Tanika Charles will perform her modern interpretation of classic soul on March 7. Her 2016 debut album received Polaris Music Prize and Juno award nominations for best R&B/soul recording of the year. She released her sophomore album The Gumption in May 2019.

There will be two Blenders concerts in April, starting with the return of singer-songwriter Ryan McMahon on April 4. He previously performing at Blenders with The Lion The Bear and The Fox, but this will be a solo appearance that crosses different musical genres. His sixth full-length album In Line for a Smile was released in February 2019.

After many years the Montreal musician Roxanne Potvin is returning to the Blenders stage on April 25. She is a Juno nominated singer-songwriter with an evolving sound that is described as southern soul, breezy pop, and bittersweet balladry. She released her latest EP, All It Was, in 2018.

The regular Blenders season will conclude on May 2 with a performance by old-time banjo player and soul singer Kaia Kater. The Toronto based musician has won Canadian Folk Music and Stingray Rising Star awards. Her third album, Grenades, was released in October 2018 and was nominated for a 2019 Juno award for contemporary roots album of the year.

The 2019-20 Blenders season includes a special concert on Nov. 12 that will feature the legendary Downchild Blues Band during their 50th anniversary tour. The band has released 18 albums and received numerous awards over the years. They created a new show for their 50th anniversary tour that includes fan favourites and hidden musical gems from their career.

“I'm really pumped to see the Downchild Blues Band,” Gowan said. “It's been years since I've seen them. They're supposed to have a killer show and we're pretty honoured to have them coming for their 50th anniversary.”

Blenders will have a series of contests to create additional excitement in the run-up to the start of the new concert season. The weekly contests will involve sponsors and it will therefore be a way for Blenders to also give back to their very supportive sponsors.

“We could not put on these performances without the support of the business community in Swift Current and our sponsors are really good for us,” she said. “They're consistent and they're great to deal with. So this was another way to give back to them.”

The weekly contests start on Aug. 12 and will continue for five weeks. The Aug. 12-17 draw will require contestants to find the Blenders guitar case at local events and businesses to be eligible for the draw of ticket packages.

For the Aug. 19-23 contest the participants will have to snap a selfie with the Blenders VIP poster outside the Lyric Theatre and post it on the Blenders social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram.

Contestants will have to collect bingo cards at different businesses for the Aug. 26-30 contest, there will be a treasure hunt for the Sept. 2-6 contest, and they will have to collect eight sponsor signatures during the Sept. 9-13 contest.

Contest prizes are three VIP ticket packages to different Blenders concerts with reserved seats, snacks and a bottle of wine for the table.

For more information about the upcoming Blenders concert series as well as the VIP ticket packages and contests, go to the Blenders Music website at

Individual concert tickets and season passes are now available at Pharmasave in Swift Current. The prize of individual tickets ranges from $25 to $45, depending on the show, and a season pass is $325.

“It's like getting three of the concerts for free,” Gowan said about the season pass. “So it's a really good bargain, and if they buy that and want to add on, they get a 25 per cent discount off the Downchild Blues Band. … I encourage people to do that. The tickets, although they're not refundable, are transferable. So you can buy them with somebody else and they can use half and you can use the other half. A company can buy them and spread them amongst their staff. So it's a good deal.”

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