Fire White rob Sherwood with two late goals

Payten Evans (Calgary Fire White-playing red) in action with Cassidy Rhodes (Sherwood Park Royals) in their Alberta Female Hockey League Bantam Elite game.
© J. Ashley Nixon

Calgary Fire White went back to winning ways in the Alberta Female Elite Bantam League on Sunday with two late goals.

After a goalless first period, the Sherwood Park visitors took the lead five minutes into the second with a goal by their captain, Jenna Goodwin who made a breakaway and beat Fire White’s goalie, Ali Kieren with a shot over her left shoulder. It looked like it could be enough for the win but with five minutes to go in the final period, Fire White equalized in a power play when Ella Kitchen got some space and hit above the Sherwood Park goalie, Asia Kachuk as she went down on the ice.

With 2”26” on the clock and another powerplay, Hannah Suto scored with a shot glove-side. There was intense pressure in the closing minute as Sherwood Park pulled their goalie but the Fire White defense held up to the storm to secure the team’s twelfth regular time win of the season.

Final score: Calgary Fire White 2-1 Sherwood Park

Up next: There’s a bit of a break in the Alberta Female Elite Bantam League as the Alberta Winter games try-outs happen in Innisfail this coming weekend. The next game for Fire White is on Saturday, December 16, versus Rocky Mountain Raiders at Stew Hendrey Arena (11:45am).

Song of the match

Another AC/DC selection chosen by DJ Dale for this game: It’s a Long Way to the Top (If you wanna Rock n Roll). This is a version taken from the ten-year reunion of Jack Black and others in the cast of the brill film School of Rock. You’ve gotta see this gem!

More action from the game

For more photos from the game please visit J. Ashley Nixon Communications.


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Boots & The Hoots: All hat and plenty cattle


Boots & The Hoots performing at The Gateway, SAIT during the Calgary Folk Music Festival Fall Concert Series.
© J. Ashley Nixon

Maybe the idiom, all hats and no cattle, comes from Texas. Some might have heard it uttered from the lips of J.R. Ewing, a fictional character in the TV series Dallas that appeared first in the late 1970s but who seems to have manifested himself into the realities of current day American politics.

As an “oil worker” myself (full disclosure: I worked for Shell for 17 years), but hailing from way out east (Yorkshire, England), I was always amused when the expression was brought up in meetings to describe someone who is more talk than action. Full of hype. Or, as Mark “Boots” Graham, delicately put it: “Two days ago I was covered in chicken shit. Look at me now, I’m just full of it!”

Big voice, funny stories

Boots is the right foot in the threesome country band, Boots & The Hoots. He’s big on voice, funny with his stories, appreciates old-style country and wears a beige cowboy hat (a Smithbilt?) But here’s the key: Boots, and his Hoots, have plenty cattle. No hype as we tend to use that word these days, just raucous, embroidered stories, spoken or sung, that hit the spot with a packed out crowd at The Gateway, SAIT in Calgary on Saturday. Not a band to wait through, get through, drink through until the main act comes on stage. (That was The Dead South: read here about their ebullient stage show). Both were performing as part of the Calgary Folk Music Festival Fall Concert Series.

Like a Working Men’s Club

Boots & The Hoots performed like they might have been in a Working Men’s Club. Very different to a Gentlemen’s Club, these down to earth venues in the north of England (and in industrial parts of Scotland, Wales, and the Midlands) offered cut-price beer to the likes of miners and metal-workers and promoted show bands. Good music, funny stories; and engagement with the audience, not just a distraction in between the other entertainment (bingo) and the stylish food (pies and peas).

Red Deer Boys

The funny stuff connecting Boots & The Hoots to their audience started up as soon as the Red Deer boys got on stage: “We’re here to play some Norwegian Black Metal” alerted Boots, and launched into a real country number, featuring a terrific, twangy Strat guitar solo from Tyler Allen. Sean Vandenbrink, a smiling, big fellow with “crude” and a cup and saucer inked into his left hand, laid down a solid rhythm on his upright bass.

Boots, his nickname emblazoned on the body and strap of his guitar, did the singing. And talking, lots of it, especially about the state of country music as he sees it. He explained how the band has a rule to always play at least one Hank Williams song in their set. On the other hand, he seems to have a disliking for the music of the “King of Country”, George Strait (“anything on the radio over the last twenty years played (by him) sucks”.

Songs of love gone wrong and life on the road

The band went into a medley of songs about love gone wrong “If that’s not country, then kiss my ass”, Boots offered. One of these, Lower the Bar, was written about “one of my ex-wife’s who ran up a big tab at the bar when I left her.” The hardship of life on the road was featured in Hobo Shower, which reminded me, for all the wrong reasons mind, of The Blackfoot Truckstop Diner, an authentic place in Inglewood, Calgary with roots going back to the late 1950s. It’s highly recommended for a visit; try a milkshake and poutine together!

Drinking and its after-effects was another strong theme in their songs (“I’d like to dedicate this next song to anyone who ever had a hangover”) including their last one, Whisk all the Drinky. Boots & The Hoots went down really well and some good after-effects are still buzzing around.

More action from the gig

For more photos from the Boots & The Hoots gig please visit J. Ashley Nixon Communications and here for photos from The Dead South.

More Boots

Boots & The Hoots released a nine-song CD, Too Hot to Hoot in 2015. Pinecone Cowboy their first recording, was released in 2013.

A video featuring some of their live performance at The Gateway, SAIT (shot by Ryan Simchuk)

You can hear Boots & The Hoots (from 2014) on CKUA radio






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Into The Dead South in Southern Alberta

The Dead South performing at The Gateway, SAIT, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
© J. Ashley Nixon

Dirty Country

Point camera on the face, on a farm track. Hitch up the cello and start whistling. That’s the opening shot of The Dead South’s fabulously popular video (over 35 million YouTube views in just over a year) of their song In Hell I’ll be in Good Company. It went down like a Stampede Party on Saturday when they played it live in Calgary. Along with other songs from their second album, Good Company and their latest recording, Illusion & Doubt (Curve Music) all was finger-clicking and boot-stomping good from the Saskatoon-based band.

The capacity crowd of a thousand crammed into The Gateway, SAIT for this Calgary Folk Music Festival Fall Concert Series gig was with them (and the support act, Boots & The Hoots-review here) all the way. “They’re awesome, nothing quite like it,” said a fan, Gary Woolverton, who gave a much better explanation of the band’s genre than the usual bluegrass/folk/rock description. Hemmed up front against the barrier he promptly described their music as “Dirty Country”. Copy that.

Cello, you’ve got a bass

The Dead South stage sound features, literally, jumping banjo (see the photos) played by Eliza Doyle, who also bangs a kick drum with a cows skull on the skin, and a real bleached one to the side, and hits hard into a canister of percussion. She joined the band after Colton Crawford had to withdraw from active duty when he became sleepless in Saxony (see CBC article for more). That made the band one hat less but they still have the wide-brimmed boys, Nate Hilts and Scott Pringle, on guitars, mandolins, and voices. Just to distinguish, Nate is the more gravelly-voiced of the prairie two-some and the one who keeps his pleckies (guitar picks) in the brim of his headgear.

Completing the line-up with “cello, you’ve got a bass” (as Jack Black said in the brill film School of Rock) is Danny Kenyon, who delightfully plucks and bows his heavily duct-taped, melancholy instrument with lots of melodic cheer.

Drinking Songs

Boots, the opening song from Illusion & Doubt, was introduced by Nate Hilts as “a song about having too many beers”, prompting a bottle-swig of Jameson’s whiskey by all the band members. That Bastard Son, another drinking song (“I just want liquor and dirty whores, ’cause I don’t care no more”) also went down like a good pint. There was room for a cover as well, Rox in the Box by The Decemberists.

After a long, well-loved set, The Dead South tripped off stage one by one, then came back for an extended encore, playing three or more songs before heading back east across the Prairies for a couple of gigs in Toronto them home in Saskatchewan for the new year. I’m still whistling that contagious, Dirty Country song about being in Hell.

More action from the gig

For more photos from the gig please visit J. Ashley Nixon Communications




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Down to Earth: Wind and Fire

Sarah Gaiser (Calgary Fire White) in a puck battle on the boards against Quinn Odland (Lethbridge Cyclones in their Alberta Female Hockey (Bantam Elite) game at East Calgary Twin Arenas.
© J. Ashley Nixon

Lethbridge cyclones breezed into Calgary on Saturday and brought Fire White down to Earth after their stellar opening to the season with twelve wins. It was the Calgary Bantam Elite team’s first loss in regular time in the Alberta Female Hockey League.

Ella Kitchen opened the scoring for Fire White after five minutes of play. But with just five shots on net, the Cyclones managed to put away two goals before the first interval scored by Quinn Odland and Captain, Makena Welby.

Hailey Wiltshire equalized for Fire White five minutes into the second period when she tipped the puck from a blue line shot by Chyenne Risling past the Cyclones goalie, Piper Slezak. Thirty seconds later, call-up player Emily Toole, gave Calgary the lead, assisted by Mia Bierd but the Cyclones battled back scoring on a 5 on 3 penalty with just four seconds to go. The Lethbridge girls hung on to take just their second regular time win of the season. And Fire White lost their first.

Final score: Calgary Fire White 3-4 Lethbridge Cyclones

Up next: White versus Sherwood Park at East Calgary Twin Arenas (ECTAs House), Sunday, December 3, 2017.

Song of the match

DJ Dale was playing some solid retro tracks during the game. From his playlist, I’m going for 500 Miles by Scottish brothers Charlie and Craig Reid, aka The Proclaimers (1988). It should have been The First Cut is the Deepest by Rod Stewart (1976) (or, if you prefer, the version by Sheryl Crow). It’s a pretty cheesy video and Rod gets away with some sartorial sneekery with opposing stripes but the song is still a great one.

More action from the game

For more photos from the game please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography


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Flames put out Fire at Wick Fest

Clarington Flames goalie, Jia LeBlanc takes a drink during the game versus Calgary Fire White at the Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival (WickFest) 2017 at Winsport, Calgary, Canada.
© J. Ashley Nixon

Stealthy Flames play

It was a contest to decide the final spot in the Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival (WickFest) Bantam Elite final. In short, it was the Clarington Flames that did it with a well-worked game against Calgary Fire White. The Ontario team, who play in the Lower Lakes Female Hockey League, took the lead after five minutes with a goal scored by Hayley Doyle. They never looked back. Steady defense, stealthy progress up centre ice and a healthy shot count (32) gave the Flames their win. The Flames consolidated with two minutes to go in the first period with a short-handed goal by Ashley Adams. Fire White pushed back and a blaster from the blue line from Gracie Gilkyson had the Flames goalie, Jia Leblanc beaten.

Double Doyle

Fire White started strong in the second period but took a couple of penalties. Their defenders almost held tight but with seconds to go, the Flames swiped them again with a goal from Hayley Doyle, her second. Lots of fore-checking form Fire White resulted in few shots and the Flames went off for the ice flooding with a 3-1 lead.

Todd and Tonna take Flames to the final

It was still a two-goal game and Fire White fore-checked hard but Clarington Flames scored two times more in the final period with goals from Mikayla Todd and Jessica Tonna.

Final score: Clarington Flames 5-1 Calgary Fire White

Good luck to the teams that made it to the final, Regina Ravens and Clarington Flames.We all play for Canada!

Sock of the match

No music (again) in today’s game so I have gone, instead for the sock of the match. That goes to the Clarington Flames for their flashy, retro hosiery (see other photos, below, for evidence!)

Up next: That’s it for the Fire White at the Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival (WickFest) at Winsport, Calgary.  We are back to the Alberta Female Hockey League on Saturday, December 2, with a game versus Lethbridge Cyclones at East Calgary Twin Arenas (ECTAs).

More action from the game

For more photos from the game please visit J. Ashley Nixon Communication


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Ravens deliver a message to Fire at Wick Fest

Chyenne Risling in action for Calgary Fire White versus Regina Ravens at the Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival (WickFest) at Winsport, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
© J. Ashley Nixon

A Song of Ice and Fire

Fire. Ice. Ravens. Sounds like some key elements of George R.R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire, books that are perhaps better known through their interpretation in the HBO Television series A Game of Thrones. If you follow that show and the female hockey scene in Calgary, you will know and understand this: the Ravens delivered a message to Fire White today at Winsport.

In a hard-fought match, the Saskatchewan visitors hustled just a bit more and capitalized on several breakaways from their own blue line to take the points and go into strong contention for a final spot in the Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival (WickFest) Bantam Elite final on Sunday.

Payten on Payton

After a goal-less first period, the home team took the lead when Payten Evans took a pass from Chyenne Risling and surprised the Ravens goalie, Payton Schlamp with a snapshot. The Ravens flew back though and equalized three minutes before the interval with a breakaway goal. Tori McNabb snatched the puck from Fire White’s Sarah Gaiser on her own blue line and fed Kaylee Dyer to skate in hard and score past Ali Kieren, who had stopped a couple of breakaways earlier.

Ravens fly out

Molly Flynn gave the lead to the Ravens after ten minutes of the final period, again from a break-away from her own blue line. Fire White battled hard but couldn’t put enough quality shots to upset Schlamp and her resistant defenders. An empty-net goal in the dying moments of the game from Alexis Petford gave delight to the Ravens bench and sealed the game.

Final score: Regina Ravens 3-1 Calgary Fire White

Up next: It’s the final day of the Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival (WickFest) at Winsport, Calgary today. In the Bantam Elite group, Clarington Flames from Ontario face off against Calgary Fire White for a potential spot in the final.

Song of the match

What? No music in today’s game!

More action from the game

For more photos from the game please visit J. Ashley Nixon Communications



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Morbid songs to dance to: Cold Specks at Commonwealth Bar & Stage

Fainting show stopper

It might be the first time that playing doom soul in public resulted in fainting. That was one of the episodes during the performance of Cold Specks at the Commonwealth Bar & Stage in Calgary on Wednesday. It was a show stopper, for a few moments, when a guy in front of the stage fell over loudly. He got up from the wooden floor and indicated he was alright. Cold Specks counted back in and off they went.

Another morbid song to dance to

It seemed to rumble the band though since the next number got pulled up mid-way. “You know when it’s a really old song and you don’t like playing it anymore?” offered Ladan Hussein to the audience. “Let’s stop playing that one.” Just what Cold Specks did and her support band, comprising bass/keyboards and electronic drum pads, moved on to a more recent rendering from her third, and latest, album Fool’s Paradise (Arts & Crafts). Something more up-tempo, “another morbid a song you can dance to.”

Doom-laden soul

Cold Specks’ doom-laden brand of soul has strong elements of gospel music and blues, no doubt influenced by the music of her father, also a musician, and some modern interpretations of traditional Somalian music. For me, it put my mind right back to listening to vinyl LPs in a dark house in Coventry, England in 1976. Specifically to Patti Smith, as she sang from her debut album, Horses.

Sombre and eerie; provocatively moving between loud passages to whispers mouthed distant from the microphone, Cold Specks’ act is subtly theatrical, using her silver-glittering, white shawl (I am guessing a traditional garbasaar from Somalia?) that she inadvertently left behind and had to pop backstage to collect. Ladan was not gone long (“It was less than sixty seconds!” came an encouraging response from the audience) and her shawl became a vital prop for her stage presence to hold and caress, twist and shape around her microphone.

Fool’s Paradise

Cold Specks’ set started and finished solo, with Ladan playing guitar. She seemed to enjoy playing her instrument “There’s no guitar on the new album. It’s nice going back to old habits”, she offered. She played what was to be her last song, then said “I’ll do another one. I’m feeling a bit greedy” The Commonwealth crowd were pleased about that second helping.

You can hear/see more about the new Cold Specks album Fool’s Paradise and her other music here.

More photos from the Cold Specs and LA timpa gig

Please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography for more photos from the Cold Specks and LA timpa gig at Commonwealth Bar & Stage. Go here for a review of the LA timpa gig.

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