Sun, hail, food, the classic & the new: Your typical Stampede pop concert

Man's back and cowboy hat, facing towards rodeo grounds
Getting ready for the ride of your life takes some thought, likely. Image courtesy of the Calgary Stampede.

It’s a tough job, I know, but somebody’s . . . . got . . . to . . . (eerrrggghhh!!! Uuugggghhh!!!! ) to do . . . . (aaaagggghhhh!!) it. . . . (eerrrrrrrgg).

Got it! Whew! Yep, tough work, all this music listening. I mean, who among you would sacrifice your quietude and evenings of ‘reality’ television to go and take in, well, live music?


During the Stampede one really has to gird their loins and head out into the melee. Fortunately my daughter, nearly my size now (and, by her own account, considerably smarter), is up to taking some of it in. In fact, her choice was to see what the Stereos and Faber Drive were like on the Coke Stage.

Did you go? Did you listen to me? Nnnooooo, I think not, and you missed a dancing, screaming, occasionally profane crowd of teens celebrating many current radio hits as one. Some weaker-kneed among you would say “Great! Dodged that bullet!” but it was fun. Really. You remember, don’t you?

In the big picture, I’d have to say that the Stereos won that duel, just seeming a little more cohesive, more tuned-up, for their set. Faber Drive was no slouch, and some of their tunes definitely rang the crowd’s bell, so my daughter disagrees with me, but what does she know? Kids.

Actually, with the rain and hail delaying the start of their sets, and the squeegeeing that had to happen onstage before the Stampede would allow things to be plugged in, any performance was a delight.

Nighttime midway long shot with Ferris Wheel blurred in motion
The Stampede Midway at night is a splendour as great as anything in the day. Image courtesy of the Calgary Stampede.

In a different crowd, one allowed to drink beer and wear cowboy hats without baring their midriff, April Wine, 3 Doors Down and Lynyrd Skynyrd played the Stampede Roundup,

“Calgary’s largest private Stampede charity fundraiser,” which, in it’s 15th year, will invest “100% of the proceeds from this event back into the local community, (especially) the Rotary/Flames House (a children’s hospice).”

How is this done? 500 Rotary Club volunteers cook beef, heat beans, and chill beer near the Fort Calgary stage, and then thousands of corporate employees who have booked time off, bought tickets, and paid for their own drinks watch as April Wine takes the stage and KICKS ASS!!!

How can they still play that well? They mention one of the songs is from 1971: I was six years old!! There’s a few high notes that can’t be sung anymore, but the drums and guitars are wielded with the authority of Canadian originals. Personally, I preferred them to 3 Doors Down. 3 Doors was good, but April Wine seemed to be more connected to their songs; amazing after 41 years. Aren’t they tired yet?

Lynyrd Skynyrd. With only one member from it’s original lineup, milking the memory of it’s classic rock legacy . . . I was cynical.

They rocked the socks off of the photographer after I went home. Rats! Should’ve stayed! Many thanks to the Rotary Club of Calgary for our press access.

Posted by Allen Thai

Author: Carey Rutherford

Swallowed by the mutual loves of words and music (but far too chicken-shit to perform them with a band), Carey’s writing career started slowly as a freelance writer in 2003, starved him nearly to personal bankruptcy until 2008, and changed directions while writing for FastForward, Beacon Calgary, GayCalgary, and Examiner magazines. With the death of many old-school periodicals, and the explosion of musical diversity in Calgary, the modern approach to writing about live music performance in the Calgary region presented uncluttered landscapes for the focussed passion that Carey’s conversations with musicians, drag queens, festival producers and small animals has uncapped. He was moulded by the brilliance of paper-based periodicals old and new (Life, rolling Stone, Swerve! and Adbusters etc.), and sees the info-verse as needing creative, empathetic, but clear-eyed Agents to communicate these performances.