Powers combine: Wyrd Alberta + Mammoth Cave Fest!

Last year, the rooftops of Henotic were rocked from Mammoth Cave Fest, a live music extravaganza of elephantine proportions. It’s back for 2010, so I got in touch with maestro Paul Lawton to learn more!

This is the second time around for Mammoth Cave Fest. Tell us about it.
Last year was a pretty important one as far as the Lethbridge music community – studios opening left and right, local bands popping up left and right and getting signed (latest – Fist City who got picked up by Cleveland, Ohio’s Deadbeat Records, a great/storied punk rawk label), so we decided to celebrate last may by holding a giant party – Mammoth Cave Fest. That was such an astonishing success that we knew then and there that we would make it into a yearly event.

This year, we decided to team up with friends we made in Calgary (Sled Island) and Edmonton (Aaron Levin, who runs the weirdcanada.com website and who shared a common vision with his Wyrd Fest in Edmonton that was held last fall and which featured Myelin Sheaths and The Moby Dicks). Last November (post Wyrd Fest I), Aaron and I decided we should try and combine our two festivals, helping to both offset the costs and to help lure touring bands to come to Alberta (with the promise of three nights in a row of full houses). We got Sled Island’s Zak Pashak on board to help with Calgary and we spent the next few months assembling some of Canada’s very best fringe music acts.

What kind of bands should we expect this time around?
To the average music listener, the lineup isn’t going to be ringing any bells really – most of the bands we picked are obscure at best. Save for Calgary-based headliner Women, a band who hit international success in 2008 with their s/t debut, and who are critical darling from both the mainstream and underground taste-makers alike. The rest of the bands on the touring festival represent the current best-of-the-best in the Canadian underground.

We’ve got three bands from the current crop of Vancouver avant-garde weirdos – Shearing Pinx, Nu Sensae and Myths; Cosmetics, another Vancouver band who were recently signed but chic Brooklyn, NY label Captured Tracks; Two Montreal psychedelic rock/folk bands Grand Trine and Oman Ra II, both of which I think Lethbridge music fans are going to lose their minds over.

My own label – Mammoth Cave Recording Co. has a 7″ compilation of the current upcrop of rock ‘n roll upstarts (10 bands playing 1 minute songs about Alberta), most of those bands are playing the travelling festival in various capacities – The Famines, Myelin Sheaths, Fist City, The Moby Dicks, Topless Mongos, Radians – all of which will be playing the Lethbridge show. Two local favourites who sell out every show they play here on their own – Calgary’s Sharp Ends and Edmonton’s The Wicked Awesomes are making the trek. Plus, we squeezed two more Edmonton favourites – heavy 70’s rockers KRANG and scuzz-pop band JAZZ.

We get there and we don’t even begin to touch the level of amazing Lethbridge bands coming to celebrate our only local fringe music festival – Richard Amery, Austrian, Jessie Northie and the Dandelions, Deathspot Radio, Crossings, To and End, Moheeba, Square Waves, Bonnaventure James, Skulltrain to Helltown, Sleepyhead, Amelia Earhart, Chief Mountain. I’m really excited for debut performances from Shipbreaker (Robin from local scene icons The Darby and Joan Club) as well as Zoo Company. Finally, Jeff VandenElzen, formerly of Lethbridge’s favourite 90’s band JiL, will be playing a rare-solo set of amazing space-rock instrumentals.

When, where and how much?
Mammoth Cave Fest II happens on Sunday, May 2 from noon to midnight at Henotic. We are utilizing their dual stage setup – noisier stuff upstairs in the GCBC and everything else downstairs on the main-Henotic stage. We’ve been advertising it as 30 bands, but it is actually closer to 35. We have done this many bands before and it is actually perfect – a seamless back and forth in that when one band is playing upstairs, the band downstairs is set up, etc.

There are 100 tickets available at $15. Second 100 are $25. After that, we are sold out of tickets and you can try your luck at the door.

Limited, Advance Tickets will be available at:

Also online using PayPal (we can ship the tickets for free or hold them at the door)

This is a surefire sellout and one of the most epic events of the year. Thirty-plus bands going for 12 hours – all for $15.

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