James Taylor

On Sunday night, 13th July, we returned to the Pengrowth Saddledome once more. On the final night of the 2008 Calgary Stampede, we went along to see one of Eamonn’s favourite singer/songwriters, James Taylor.

Instead of taking the train into Calgary, this time we decided to drive to the Stampede grounds where the Saddledome is situated. Here’s a shot of the route in as you get pretty close to the park…

We parked up in the back streets away from the grounds and walked up and over the hill towards them. At the brow of the hill, we got a great view of the Saddledome with downtown Calgary behind it…The crowds were gathering in the Rodeo and Chuckwagon stadium for the final night of competition…Now 60 years old, Taylor remains an extremely talented performer but what struck us was his easy-going charm as he participated in banter with the crowd and as he told stories about some of the songs he was singing.Here’s a couple of decent web links for information about James Taylor…
He plays with some well renowed musicians. On this particular evening, he had Steve Gadd on drums, a name Eamonn immediately recognised given his past work with Steely Dan (one of Eamonn’s all time favourite bands)…
and Michael Landau on guitar…

…and the rest of the band and vocalists weren’t too shabby either!

His rendition of Carole King’s “You’ve Got A Friend” was excellent (click on the play symbol in the picture below)…He didn’t let the crowd down when they would shout out asking for other classics like “Fire and Rain”, “Carolina in my Mind”, “Country Road” and here, “Sweet Baby James”…He split the concert into two sets, the first of an hour and the second being about an hour and a quarter. Among the songs featured in the second set were “Shower The People”…

…and “Your Smiling Face”.The concert rounded off with a superb rendition of “How Sweet It Is”, which, unfortunately, we don’t have any coverage of. In short, it was a couple of hours (and some) of musical perfection that will live in the memory for years to come. As we strolled back to the car, we stopped and took one final shot of the Saddledome…


Sugarland & Miranda Lambert

Following our visit to the Pengrowth Saddledome on Thursday 10th, we returned the next evening to watch two country acts.

First up was Miranda Lambert who hails from Longview, Texas.

We first saw Miranda in concert a couple of years back when she was the support act for the great George Strait. You could tell she was talented but it was good to see how much her confidence and presence on stage has grown since then.
Interestingly, for many support acts, the crowd don’t bother getting into their seats and just mill about, chatting. However, it was a sign of her growing stature that the vast majority of the evening’s attendees were sat waiting and ready for Miranda’s arrival. Indeed, her latest album, which she wrote the bulk of the songs for, has recently won the Academy of Country Music’s Album of the Year Award. Miranda’s first album was called Kerosene and this is the title track from it…
Later, she sung a much more countrified ditty about the curious North American penchant for alcohol prohibition, called “Dry Town”. It’s a catchy little tune from her latest album. Here’s the lyrics
http://www.lyrics007.com/Miranda%20Lambert%20Lyrics/Dry%20Town%20Lyrics.htmlMiranda went down really well with the crowd and got everyone in the mood for the main act of the evening, Sugarland.

Originally a trio, the band has operated as a duo for the past couple of years and they are quickly becoming one of the most popular country acts in North America.
The singer is Jennifer Nettles……and her cohort is Kristian Bush.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugarland_%28duo%29
The crowd were eager for their arrival and they kicked off with what was their debut single back in 2004, called “Baby Girl”…

Later, they sang their current single, “All I Want To Do”, from their new album which is due to be released shortly…

Towards the end of the concert, Jennifer and Kristian engaged in an unusual spot of audience participation…It was an extremely entertaining concert and Jennifer has an excellent voice. We would definitely pay to see them again.J&E

The Judds

On Thursday night, we had a walk through the Calgary Stampede grounds on our way to the Pengrowth Saddledome to go and see a concert by The Judds, a mother/daughter combo that had many big hits back in the 1980’s. The duo stopped performing and touring together in 1991 when the mother, Naomi (now 62), was diagnosed with Hepatitis, which forced her to retire. The daughter, Wynona, has gone on to enjoy an extremely successful solo career in country music.


The concert was one of only 3 they are doing in 2008 and they are the first ones they have done together since 1991, so it was a very special occasion and the crowd responded very well to them. Indeed, the crowd were extremely tuneful, as you might hear in the video clip below.

In our view, it is Wynona who is the special talent. She has a tremendously powerful voice and uses it well. Naomi would chip in with some commentary and some harmonies but left the bulk of the singing to her daughter.  Here’s a couple of pics from the show…


Naomi…Both together…And here is some video footage from the concert. Here, they are singing one of Jan’s all time favourite songs, “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout The Good Old Days)”. Barely a dry eye in the house!Here’s the lyrics…

It was an excellent night out and is going to be followed up both tonight (Friday) and on Sunday, with further concerts by Sugarland and James Taylor.


Garden Works Continue

The weather has been glorious these past few days and it has enabled us to get back out in the garden to reclaim the borders we had previously dug, from the weeds that had taken them over in the recent wet spell. We now have two borders weeded, planted, matted and mulched.

This border is down the left hand side of the garden as you look from the house and is complete with some solar powered lights which look quite smart. Obviously, we are going to have to wait some time for the plants to mature! We are also interested to see how they cope with winter here. We have deliberately chosen extremely hardy plants that, according to their labels, laugh in the face of minus 30°C temperatures. We hope they’re right!This border is outside our “nook” (dining area beside the kitchen) and is quite a shady area.We have also taken a first step towards harvesting the heavy downpours of rain that occur here from time to time by installing a rain barrel. It’s already nearly full so we might start thinking about adding a second one as there is plenty more rain to come in the spectacular thunder and lightning storms we will see over the next couple of months.There is still a great deal to do to get things to where we want them by the end of this first summer season. We’re hoping that next year will be more about enjoying the hard labour of Spring/Summer 2008!


Going to the Dawgs

In winter, we sampled Ice Hockey. With Summer here now, different sports come to the fore and Friday evening saw us taking our first ever trip along to a Baseball game. A five minute drive down the road brought us to the Okotoks’ “Seaman Stadium”, home of the Okotoks Dawgs, the local baseball team. Here’s their website…


They play in the Canadian Western Major Baseball League, on this occasion versus the Weyburn Beavers who travelled across from our neighbouring province, Saskatchewan…


The field and 2,500 seater stadium are all but new, only having been completed in June 2007…

…and being there makes for a very relaxing evening where you can enjoy a beer……and a chat as you watch the action, in our case, on these very snazzy stools…The children have loads of space to relax and enjoy themselves on the hill adjacent to the playing field and they would go chasing any balls that made their way over into their part of the ground. The announcer reminded them that if they returned the balls to the stadium gift shop then they would get a “Loonie” (a Canadian $1 coin) for each one.The Albertan, Canadian and Okotoks flags were all active in a steady breeze…The action in Baseball comes in fits and starts but proceedings commence with a toss up…Before the action proper got underway, both the American (it was American Independence Day) and Canadian anthems were sung…The team mascot is Diggity Dawg who has his own page on the team website…


It was his birthday on Friday so Sobey’s, a local supermarket, had donated an enormous cake that was cut up and distributed to anyone in the crowd that wanted some. We had to sample some of course. Also, to mark his birthday, he was allowed to do a ceremonial first pitch. He’s got quite an action there…The Dawgs play in white and here is their Pitcher, showing Diggity how it’s done by looking like he is ready to take out all obstacles in his path…And here is one of the Dawgs batters, several of whom did a fine job of striking the ball a considerable distance!On a number of occasions, the ball was struck so fiercely that it sailed over the stands in the direction of the car park. This prompted a local to our right to turn to us and exclaim, “man, those cars are getting a hell of a beating out there tonight!” The fact that the very next ball to exit the stadium whizzed off in the direction of our own car left us a little worried…now we know why that particular run of spaces were empty when we arrived! Thankfully, no damage was done. At one point, just after a ball had rocketed into another part of the car park, there was an announcement saying “can the owner of the Ford [Blah], Registration [Blah], come to the office please, we have an urgent mesage for you!”…there was a slight pause while everyone in the ground grimaced thinking, “oh no, he’s got a baseball through his windscreen”…only for the announcer to continue with, “you have the dirtiest car in the car park and you’ve won a free car clean from our sponsor!”, which had us all laughing.

As the game progressed, the Dawgs built and cemented a lead as shown on the stadium scoreboard, complete with it’s neat little baseball clock in the corner…The team were supported enthusiastically by the crowd who, in turn, were encouraged to participate by chief supporter (we hesitate to call him a cheerleader!) Brian Spencer, who would jump up from time to time shouting “Dawgs, Dawgs, Dawgs” to which the crowd would respond by barking three times! Brian used to work at our bank and he was the guy who was kind enough to take us to our first Hockey game shortly after we first arrived in Okotoks.As an evening out, it is very relaxing and enjoyable to sit there in the sunshine and soak up the atmosphere. As for the game of Baseball, we think it is probably an acquired taste and it might take us a few more visits to appreciate its finer points, but the Dawgs, who seem to be quite a talented team, cantered to a 6-0 victory to maintain their lead at the head of their section.