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St. Albert's Arden Theatre announces 2024-25 season

The much-awaited lineup includes Hawksley Workman, Corb Lund, Jill Barber, Laila Biali, Alex Cuba and many others

Hundreds went online and phone to buy tickets to the Arden Theatre's new season even before the complete 2024-2025 lineup was announced Wednesday night.

In fact, tickets for Corb Lund's Nov. 6 show sold out in one day when the country artist announced the Alberta leg of his El Viejo tour in May.

Not all tickets sell as quickly. However, for Arden’s professional programming presenters, Elliott Garnier and Ben Sures, planning the season focused on hosting 25 diverse shows is designed to pique fan interest.

And the duo has successfully blended a cocktail of familiar faces and fresh acts that range from Skerryvore, Matt Anderson and Five Alarm Funk to Frazey Ford, Aparna Nancherla, Bel & Quinn and The Alphabet of Awesome Science.

“It's a celebration of four decades of memorable and magical performances. We have returned old favourites and introduced a new generation of voices and perspectives. I want to celebrate everything that’s great about artists. This is a great opportunity to introduce patrons to new things and spark memories of past artists,” said Garnier.

Frazey Ford, a Vancouver based singer-songwriter, a former mermber of the alt-folk group, the Be Good Tanyas, launches the season Sept. 6. She now enjoys a solo career mixing R&B, soul and funk. Her third album U Kin B the Sun was one of the most played on CKUA.

“Hearing her sing is like watching fire. She has this emotive way of singing and her voice has a vibrato. The pandemic slowed things down for her, but she’s one of those artists that deserves to perform for audiences,” Garnier said.

The CBC stand-up comedy show The Debaters plays a two-nighter on Sept. 17 and 18.

“It’s their 19th season. And it’s consistently hilarious as the standup comedians debate current events. They can be so polarizing, yet they’re hilarious. And CBC is also recording the show for radio on both nights.”

Los Angeles-based standup comedian Aparna Nancherla performs Nov. 27. Born to Indo-American parents who are both doctors, she has chosen to heal through laughter.

“She’s performed standup on every late-night show. She’s been called one of the funniest people in America. She draws from her own experiences in dating and mental health. Her material is fresh, smart, relatable and mostly hilarious. She’s one of the exciting names in comedy today.”

Skerryvore performs for its fourth time at the Arden on Sept. 28. It’s been two full years since their last performance and the Scottish band’s skills have only sharpened. Known for an exquisite fusion of folk, trad, rock, Americana and jazz, the band always pulls out all the stops.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour arrives Oct. 1. It is geared to armchair adventurers with its adrenalin-pumping action and stunning visuals.

“You’ll be seeing mountain bikers riding down an active volcano and a young family of four climbing a 2,000-foot mountain in Norway.”

Producer Peter North has developed Up On Cripple Creek: The Music of The Band, Bob Dylan, and the Byrds taking place Oct. 11. St. Albert’s Gord Matthews also returns to the Arden as part of the show.

Five Alarm Funk is back Oct. 19 with their infectious sound. They last performed at the Arden in 2019, and since then the band has released two albums.

Hawksley Workman pops by Oct. 26 with his fun, flamboyant style mixing cabaret, glam rock and country. Mr. Lonely will back him on keyboard.

On the River with Asani and Maria Dunn takes place Nov. 8. The 60-minute performance of music and video tells the story of Cree, Dene and Métis community of Fort McKay through the lens of former chief Dorothy McDonald-Hyde.

Jill Barber last performed at the Arden with her brother Matthew in 2016. She returns Nov. 9 to perform her 2023 release ENCORE, a follow-up to her French-speaking album Chansons released a decade earlier.

“It covers classic songs by Edith Piaf, Josephine Baker and Django Reinhardt. When you listen to the music, you feel you’re strolling down a street in Paris.”

East coast singer-songwriter Matt Anderson Puts the Jolly in Your Holly on Dec. 7.

“It takes a real talent to perform a solo show. He has this baritone voice and it’s so soulful. This will be a Christmas show for people who don’t know they like Christmas,” Garnier said.

The Irrelevant Show 20th Anniversary Special: Doing Our Best kicks off the New Year on Jan. 18, 2025.

“Mark Meer, Donovan Workun, Jana O’Connor and Neil Grahn are going to be here. Mary-Ann Copithorne is making a cameo appearance. Peter Brown is the comedy ringleader and Jan Randall and Kieran Martin Murphy will be performing music.”

Laila Biali makes an appearance on Feb. 1, performing Joni Mitchell and The Canadian Songbook Reimagined.

“Laila has the chops to give Joni’s music the presence it deserves. At this show, she’ll be performing jazzy renditions of cover songs. When she performs, she lives the stories and that is how people will connect.”

Since February is Black History Month, Garnier has invited four members of The Black Opry to perform on Feb. 7. The Black Opry is a Nashville centre for Black singer-songwriters working in country, Americana, blues and folk music to nurture their talents.

“It’s a great way to celebrate and connect with the next generation of Black roots and country music.”

On Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, Garnier introduces Kaia Kater. The Montreal born Canadian with a jazz-infused voice draws on influences from Quebec, the Caribbean and Appalachia. All these cultures reflect her diverse background, and her May release of Strange Medicine takes a deep dive into self-reflection.

“She’s an incredibly gifted artist and she was definitely a must-have. She has studied film composition, and her songs are lush and psychedelic.”

Anyone suffering from a Valentine’s Day hangover can drop by the Arden on Feb. 15 to hear folk singer Basia Bulat. With more than six studio albums, two compilations and an EP under her belt, Bulat is one of Canada’s most gifted performers.

“I’ve watched her up close playing guitar, harp and ukulele. She brings such joy to the stage and writes these beautiful songs.”

Ballet Kelowna follows on Feb. 28 with The Cowboy Act Suite and Other Works that provide diverse and captivating entertainment. The evening includes three pieces of Latin jazz standards and Cameron Fraser-Monroe's satirical The Cowboy Act Suite, a reinterpretation of history through Indigenous eyes.

“Tom Wilson from Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, who is Mohawk, is also performing.”

Children’s entertainer Al Simmons returns March 1 with his multi-prop trunk, and The Paperboys make a first-time appearance on March 7.

“They’re Vancouver folk musicians who play a mix of Celtic reels, traditional Mexican folk music and New Orleans brass band charts.”

Another duo of new faces to the Arden are Bel and Quinn, two sisters from Haiti, who are making their mark with an energetic sound that blends Haitian rhythms, soul, jazz and funk. They perform March 8.

“It’ll be a six-piece all-female band that includes alto sax, tenor sax and trumpet.”

The Great Canadian Road trip 2.0 with Jason McCoy, Chad Brownlee and Jason Blaine drop by on March 9. The trio is part of the next generation of hot Canadian country artists who pack in audiences.

Blue Moon Marquee, a swing blues boogie jazz band from Alberta, joins the Arden on April 5.

“They always deliver a rollicking good time, and their last album won a Juno Award. I’m expecting this concert to be sold out.”

Grammy Award winner Alex Cuba returns with his Latin rhythms and warm, mellow voice on April 24.

“Alex is one artist that is synonymous with the Arden. It’s been two years since he was here and he’s released a new album since then.”

Closing the season on April 26 is The Alphabet of Awesome Science, a family show that stars Lexi Con and Noel Edge. The Australian nerd and the science freak present a curious collection of words and quirky scientific experiments designed to “stoke a child’s imagination with language and science.”

The Arden box office is currently open to multi-buyer patrons who wish to buy 10 or more tickets. Discounts are offered for select shows. On July 10, tickets will open to the public. For more information call 780-459-1542 or visit stalbert.ca.


Anna Borowiecki

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