Last chances for Music in the Park reverie

If Music in the Park has been on your to-do list all summer, now's the time to check it off.

The final week of the free concert series covers a wide range of genres - from classical to folk to country to blues - and maintains the series' steady mix of local and touring acts.

After Tuesday's show by Apadorrai with its Quebec world beat, Toronto's Andrea Ramolo brings her folk/roots duo - including Jason Skiendziel on bass, percussion and backup vocals - to Riverside Park.

"He's what I call my one-man band," Ramolo said en route to last weekend's Desert Daze Music Festival in Spences Bridge.

Ramolo has released her second album, The Shadows and the Cracks, and, after touring the country with a full band to plug it, recently performed opposite bluesman John Pippus at The Art We Are. The release follows 2008's Thank You for the Ride, which earned her best female folk artist, best folk album and best blues song at the Toronto Exclusive Magazine Awards.

"It's definitely a very polished, professional sounding album. It's a big studio album. To be honest, it's not necessarily what I do live. My style's kind of quirky and rough around the edges."

She's described as a born performer, which is no surprise given her background.

"I was an actor and dancer for years, so I've been on stage since I was two," she said.

She also called herself a "failed actor," having had roles in Toronto and Vancouver, including one in the Disney movie Once Upon A Mattress with Carol Burnett and Tracy Ullman.

She contrasts her background with that of the formally trained musicians with whom she performs.
"Me, I just sang all my whole life and never had any formal training."

Alberta's Nancy La Berge & The Back Yard Betties are next in line for Thursday night. La Berge, an emerging songwriter who did a stint in Nashville, writes moving ballads in a folk/country vein. She's backed by a three-piece band.

Frapp City, comprised of Mark Petri, Ed Carusi, Mario Consalvo and Ken Fraser, is a homegrown classic-rock band that often plays at the Blue Grotto. They take the Friday night slot.

Then, on Saturday, comes No Ordinary Joe, a new band put together by Kamloops country and rock singer Jolene Landygo. The group includes Steve Jaccard (bass), Gino Coltellaro (drums), Bill Bouthot (guitar) and Brad Melnyk (acoustic guitar).

Landygo, a professional singer for 17 years, thought she'd "try the whole band thing" after a hiatus having children. She's expecting her second and she's got a fresh batch of songs to dish out.

"I'll never give that up," she said. "I love writing. There's some pretty cool stuff I've been working on the last year."

On Sunday, Pete Collins returns to the stage with an old friend, Jane Parrett, to sing a mixed program of classical and show tunes. About 20 years ago they were vocal students together at World of Music. Parrett, a soprano who long since moved away, invited Collins to fill in the other half of the show.

"We thought it would be a good opportunity since we'd never shared a stage," said the operatic baritone. "I think it's going to be a wonderful night."

Another familiar set of chops - those of Edmonton's Harpdog Brown - returns for Monday's show. He's often appeared with his band, the Bloodhounds, at the Grotto.

Brown is one of the country's top blues harp players, and he has a pianist to match in his duo. Graham Guest backs him on the ivories.

"Me and the piano player, we're like old-school jazz and blues," he said while visiting family in Summerland.

"Kind of sophisticated," he added, at which point, his mom piped in, "They are the best."

Maritime Kitchen Party (yes, they're a band) bring the spirited tradition of the Maritimes for a little "East Coast madness" on Tuesday.

Finally, the local blues/rock quintet Blackdog Blue brings the series to a close next Wednesday. It's opening for Honeymoon Suite next month. The band also plays at the Blue Grotto for an end-of-summer bash this Friday.

It will be back at the club Sept. 22 to celebrate the release of their third album in four years, simply called 3.
Music in the Park begins at 7 p.m.

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