Location: Lethbridge

Singer/Songwriter Karen Romanchuk

Singer/Songwriter Karen Romanchuk

My mom and her husband Keith moved in next door to Karen and her family about five years ago. Until Gary and I did her interview for our blog, I had never met her or her family. She was singing in her backyard one summer and my ears caught the sound of this beautiful voice softly floating over the fence my family and her family share. I caught myself lingering on the front step as the melodic sound and the words of her song captured my attention; that was my first introduction to Karen although she never knew it.

When we met face to face and we talked awhile, I could tell Karen was a sweet and kind person. When she talked about her music and the experiences that were cultivated from it, she had this look in her eyes; it was a glint and a sparkle, the kind we often only see in children’s eyes.

Gary and I had the opportunity to see Karen and her band, which includes her husband Darwin on drums, at the Word on the Street festival in Lethbridge, Alberta. She’s a performer through and through; there is no doubt that how she makes people feel when she sings to them is very important to her. It was a pleasure to get to know the person behind the voice.

We welcome you to watch her interview and listen to the audio file of her song entitled Dance from her CD of the same title.

Listen to Karen’s song Dance with the player below:

Blues Musician Daryll Duus

Blues Musician Daryll Duus

Daryll Duus got his first electric guitar from his grandmother when he was 13 years old. It was red. Mostly self-taught, after only a couple of lessons Daryll “took it from there” and never looked back.

Now, after 20 years of playing professionally, Daryll and his Duus Blues Band entertain the appreciative audiences with a mix of his own bluesy songs and those of other artists.

Shy at first on stage, as Daryll’s skill level in his playing increased so did the confidence in his voice, soon belting out the lyrics and becoming the consummate entertainer, sometimes playing slide guitar with a beer bottle while standing on a patron’s table. Great fun!

Daryll’s music is also finding its way into film. The up and coming comedy web series Rust has credited Daryll’s song Skullectro to the opening and closing soundtrack to the barefoot running comedy series.

Enjoy our interview with Daryll and his performance of one of his “lovey dovey” songs If I Had A Dream

Boogie Blues Musician Papa King Cole

Boogie Blues Musician Papa King Cole

Gary and I went to visit King in his recording studio in downtown Lethbridge. When we arrived outside the building King gave us directions on where to find it. “Go through the metal door and dead bolt it behind you, go across the carpet, up the stairs, through another metal door and enter the first door on your left.” This maze of doors, hallways and stairs left me wondering what we were getting ourselves into. Although my imagination can be quite active at times, we found King in this wonderful oasis he calls home to Papa King Productions.

King gave us a tour of his studio “where it all happens;” with his music anyway. King has been helping musicians over the years record their music in a setting that was made with the purity of thought for musical and non musical types to feel comfortable the minute they set their first foot through the door. I was so comfortable I felt like I was ready to record something and I can’t even sing.

Gary and I talked with King for about an hour. He talked about his family and it was obvious to me that they have been a strong driving force to keep King so passionate for so long. At 63, he explained to us that he wants to “retire into the Blues.” Although most people would denote Blues music to be down and sorrowful, with his unique voice and musical style he prefers to sing the “happy, uplifting type of Blues.” King is 5 songs away from finishing his first CD. After all the years helping others do the same he says “it’s time.” Most people would start to wind down and “retire”and for King that just inspires him to play more and sing more. He’s happy to keep the music going.

Take a look at our video interview with King and listen to the music file of one of his songs titled ‘Come From Love’

Listen to King’s song ‘Come From Love’ with the player below:

Ellen McArthur — Photographer

Ellen McArthur — Photographer

Ellen McArthur is a southern Alberta photographer from Lethbridge. She first picked up a camera in 1970 and has never looked back. She considers herself a photo purist and has enjoyed the challenge of maintaining excellent photography without the addition of technological enhancements. “Not that there is anything wrong with that,” she says, “it’s just not for me.”

Her love for photography comes from her childlike appreciation for seeing something in the viewfinder for the first time. She describes it like entering her own private space and finding little treasures to capture in her photographs. Ellen’s subject preference is any opportunity to embrace mother nature in all her splendour. She has been known to sneak a photo on occasion of people and capture the human element with unsuspecting innocence. She loves what she does and it comes through in her photographs.

Fine Wood Craftsmanship – Daryll Duus

Fine Wood Craftsmanship – Daryll Duus

These wood creations are a taste of things to come from the Lethbridge, Alberta master craftsman Daryll Duus, a title given not from his own words but rather from his own work. He has created an array of fine works of art such as a symphony orchestra quality violin, ukeleles, book shelves, chess sets, a small sailboat, a kayak, various boxes for various uses, hand planes, our own bistro table and chairs made from cherry wood and black walnut, an armoir, bedroom dressers and bed frame, and the list goes on and on.

I don’t think there is anything that Daryll couldn’t make out of wood except maybe a NASA space shuttle but even then I wouldn’t count him out! A Renaissance man of sorts, Daryll is also mostly a self taught musician with his own Blues Band, an avid and knowledgeable gardener with specialty’s in many different types of tomatoes and peppers, and generally a great guy to have in your back pocket should you ever get lost in the woods; he could tell you which worms, roots and bugs to eat to stay alive! For more on Daryll and his woodwork please take a look at our interview with him.

Landscape Painter Ian Randell

Landscape Painter Ian Randell

We had the privilege of meeting with Lethbridge, Alberta artist Ian Randell today in his studio, The Potemkin Too, and felt like kids in a candy store. Ian’s obvious love for his work shows through in the many captivating and inspiring pieces we observed throughout his studio. His humble nature belies the skill of his brush stroke and Corinne and I have already filled our walls with visions of his work in place. For a closer look at Ian and his remarkable art work please peruse the paintings below as well as our interview with him.

Poet Richard Stevenson

Poet Richard Stevenson

Gary and I caught up with Richard Stevenson in his home in Lethbridge, Alberta where he lives with his wife Gepka. We were welcomed with a refreshing summer drink and a shady spot in the backyard. Richard gave us a tour of their home and then lead us downstairs to where it all happens. His study and two thirds of the rest of the basement are resident to books and dvds, two of Rick’s passions.

If you have never given poetry a third or fourth thought, lest not a second, you may want to reconsider. After spending time with Richard I felt like I found something wonderful I never knew I had. Who knew poetry could make my ears tingle? Richard obviously does.

In conjunction with his literary degree, his post secondary education also consists of biology. But after listening to Richard share his plethora of poetry with us, I got the impression he was more of a chemist, mixing all kinds of word concoctions together to come up with an antidote for dull and unimaginative writing.

Richard Stevenson is a well known and respected Canadian poet. So why is it that many of us have not heard of him? As Richard puts it, “poets are like tuba players, they are really only well known and respected to other tuba players.” He has published 26 books so far which include Parrot with Tourettes (adult only) and Take Me To Your Leader (children’s poetry book about ETs), countless periodicals and journal articles and has recorded a CD as a collaborative effort with jazz musicians.

In addition to all that, Richard gave Gary and I a new appreciation for what poetry could do for our imagination.

Be sure to watch our interview and poetry reading with him; you’ll be glad you did!