On August 24th, 2014 the community of Wetaskiwin and surrounding region will have the opportunity to, once again, be treated to a well-rounded-out night of entertainment in the Waterworks Theatre in Wetaskiwin. (And if you haven’t been to the Waterworks Theatre, the venue itself is a cultural adventure with the ‘walk back into time’ brick and wood decor).
The stop in Wetaskiwin is part of a short tour with Jay Semko and Punch Drunk Cabaret that kicks off at the Badlands Community Centre in Drumheller Aug 22nd. The tour then headlines the Rosecity Rumble at the Bailey Theatre in Camrose Aug 23rd, and ends at the Waterworks Theatre in Wetaskiwin, August 24th.
“Wetaskiwin is the city that actually sparked the idea of having Jay Semko and Punch Drunk Cabaret tour together,” remarked Randy Bailer, the lead in the Wetaskiwin based act called Punch Drunk Cabaret (Randy Weiler and formerly Screwtape Lewis). “The first time these two acts played together was a New Year's show in 2010 at the Memorial Hall. Not only did we have a great time playing together, but the event was so well attended that we thought it was worth taking it to other markets.”
Bailer describes the partnership. “We're very pleased to announce that we'll be joining Jay Semko of the iconic prairie rockers, the Northern Pikes, for three dates in August. Dubbed the Icons & Upstarts tour, this isn't your run-of-the-mill warm up spot for a Juno nominee. No doubt Jay Semko is a truly Canadian music treasure from Saskatchewan who has his own act.
Most musicians came from Toronto or Vancouver. Although this guy was under the radar, he has produced excellent albums and is truly a motivator for prairie musicians such as me.”
Why the tour? “Aside from the excellent reception we received here in Wetaskiwin in 2010, we really liked the concept of the ‘Icons & Upstarts’ tour. I think this is a really diverse and unique show in that there's elements of intimacy balanced with a full-on rock n roll concert. It's also a mix of brand new independent music and familiar radio hits.
Jay and the Northern Pikes were a massive influence on me as a budding musician in the 80's, largely because they were from the prairies (Saskatoon).
There's a certain musical legacy at work that, in a lot of ways, is a celebration of some of the best music the prairies have to offer.”
The community of Wetaskiwin has been great supporters. “This date wouldn't be possible without the support of Warren's Music and the Wetaskiwin Theatre Society. Upon meeting with these two organizations, it was so apparent that they're totally dedicated to nurturing the arts in Wetaskiwin.” In fact, Warren's Music will be hosting a very special free song-writing seminar with Jay Semko the day before the show (Saturday, Aug. 23).
Sharply dressed like early century snake oil salesmen, Punch Drunk Cabaret has earned rave reviews for their dance-floor packin’, crowd participating live shows that boast the widest range of music fans. Performing at Blues, Roots, Rock and Country festivals, Punch Drunk Cabaret has quickly become a fan favourite.
Rounding out the group are Reverend Robin Eklund on drums and Terry Sawbones Grant on 12-string bass. They’re all veterans whose resumes include supporting high ranking acts like Nickelback, the Tragically Hip, 54-40 and the Northern Pikes, landing national radio play, touring in the U.S. and Europe, and even appearing in an internationally released movie.
“Everything we do is dictated from being a ‘live’ band. The songs we choose are largely going to be ones that go over well in a live setting. When you have music on the radio, they hear your recorded music first and then you have to bring the show up to that level.”
Bailer also points out how Punch Drunk Cabaret’s music continues to appeal to a relatively wide demographic. “We see ourselves as entertainers. And we’re always trying to think of ways of how to include the audience in our shows. It’s all part and parcel.”
Jay Semko has composed music for many other dramas and documentary series on Discovery Channel, CBC, Global, APTN, Showcase, History, and others, and has had many of his songs and compositions featured in film and television (Trailer Park Boys – the Movie, Men With Brooms, and, Being Erica are some recent examples). As a member of the Northern Pikes, Jay was awarded four Gold records and one Platinum, with sales of over 700,000 units worldwide. The band received 8 Juno Award nominations.