From experimental California folk to Canadian pop-rock royalty, it's all happening this month
1. Rascal Flatts at Abbotsford Centre – Friday, November 1
Facebook/Rascal FlattsContrary to popular belief, Rascal Flatts is not a guy. It’s a band. I honestly don’t know how many times I’ve overheard someone talking about how “that Rascal guy” has a great voice. To be clear, “that Rascal guy” has a name, and it’s not Rascal. Rascal was my former neighbour’s Shih Tzu/Bichon cross, and his voice was not all that pleasant when he was barking at our neighbourhood’s notorious gang of rogue punk raccoons at 3 a.m. That Rascal guy’s moniker is actually Gary LeVox, and to answer your next question, yes, that alias is 100 percent made-up. LeVox? Yeah. So anyway, those Rascal guys will be hitting Abby’s former hockey digs on their (get this...) “Summer Playlist Tour.” Sorry, boys, my summer playlist expired in mid-September, but I appreciate your efforts to keep the season top-of-mind. Regardless, if your jam wanders into the du jour genre of contemporary country-pop, a ticket to this show is "Yours If You Want It."
Tickets from $62
2. Bishop Briggs at Commodore Ballroom – Monday, November 4
Facebook/Bishop BriggsBritish-born Bishop Briggs (say that five times fast!) began her existence on this planet with the name Sarah McLaughlin. Not to be confused with Canada’s own songstress of the same name (but different spelling), she snagged her stage persona from the name of her Scottish parents' hometown. IDK, you decide if that’s interesting. What is intriguing, however, is the fact she started singing in Tokyo’s karaoke bars when she was just a wee little kid, leading her to bigger and better things as one of today’s most prominent indie pop performers. If you’re anything like me and you don’t ever twist your dial towards top 40 radio, yet your guilty pleasure lies in the inexplicable wonder of American Idol, you may have caught her as a formidable mentor on Season 16, duetting a solid rendition of INX’s “Never Tear Us Apart” with that long-haired rocker dude... gah!… you know the one, the guy who’s engaged to that blonde country singing girl who came in third? Anyway, Briggs will arrive at the Commodore just a few days before the November 8th release of her latest album, Champion. So here’s a good opportunity to check out some of her new stuff before it hits the shelves.
Tickets from $41.50
3. Terra Lightfoot at Biltmore Cabaret – Tuesday, November 5
Facebook/Terra LightfootIf you’re unfamiliar with Terra Lightfoot, chances are pretty good you’re wondering if she’s related to, you know, that other Canadian Lightfoot you may or may not have heard about. The answer is a definite no, but this particular Lightfoot is working her way toward legendary status, nevertheless. With her most recent release, New Mistakes, the inspired folk-roots singer-songwriter effortlessly navigates her way through rock, soul and blues with both grace and virtuosity. Presenting her tremendous skillset with a rare combination of poignant emotion and ground-stomping ferocity, one can only wonder why the Hamilton native is not a bigger deal in the industry. Not to sound cliché, but what you have here is what’s commonly known as “the real deal.” Trust your instincts on this one and grab a ticket.
4. bülow at The Imperial – Wednesday, November 6
Facebook/bülowWow, well, November is certainly shaping up to be a great month to showcase some strong females in the biz, and bülow is no exception. The 19-year-old German-born but Toronto-based pop-iconoclast has already made her mark releasing four critically acclaimed EPs and appearing on the international festival circuit with stops at Reading, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, SXSW and many others. Oh, and she won the Juno Award for Breakthrough Artist earlier this year. No big deal, right? I’ll repeat: she’s 19! I vaguely remember being 19, and my personal list of accomplishments amounted to nothing more than the accumulation of a fairly decent record collection. Being that this girl is actually making records instead, I think it’s fair to say she’s going places most teenagers can only dream about.
5. Tom Morello at Commodore Ballroom – Thursday, November 7
Facebook/Tom MorelloFor Harlem-born axe-slinger Tom Morello, the guitar is not only his chosen tool of trade, it’s also the necessary implement required to unlock the hidden potential in today’s youth. As such, Morello has launched his first ever band camp, aptly named “Tom Morello’s Guitar Revolution.” His vision is to empower kids with music, so he’s teamed up with Fender to donate one guitar for each of the first 100 people who register for the event (held over five days in January in Newport Beach, California). Those guitars will support music education initiatives in California schools. Pretty rad, right? But really, if you’re just sticking around to hear the Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave/Prophets of Rage six-stringer shred some alt-funk-metal, featuring tracks from his 2018 studio album, The Atlas Underground, I wouldn’t wait too long to click on this link before these tickets are all scooped up.
Tickets from $59.75
6. City and Colour at Pacific Coliseum – Saturday, November 9
Facebook/City and ColourUnlike the whole Rascal Flatts mystification mentioned at the beginning of this column, I’m here to confirm that City and Colour is actually a guy, and not a band. I know! I’m just as perplexed as you are. But when Dallas (city) Green (colour) decided to take a break from his day job as singer/guitarist for post-hardcore band Alexisonfire, he figured it would be too uncomfortable to release his solo project under his own name. Okay, buddy, but really? What made things more confusing was his opening slot for Alice in Chains’ North American tour this past April was billed as “City and Colour Solo.” Well, aren’t you already a solo act? I will give him credit for one thing, though—he’s a big Alice in Chains fan, ranking him in the upper tier on my shelf of credibility. Another cool thing about this show is that every ticket purchased online includes your choice of a CD or digital copy of the new album A Pill for Loneliness. Thumbs up on free music!
Tickets from $45.50
7. Jann Arden at River Rock Casino Resort – Thursday, November 14
Facebook/Jann ArdenIt would be a mistake to represent Jann Arden as nothing more than a singer-songwriter. In fact, attempting to compile a list of her accomplishments and accolades is an arduous task. Let’s see now: she’s an author of no less than four memoirs; she cohosts a lifestyle podcast with Dragons’ Den entrepreneur Arlene Dickinson; she’s performed in various stage productions of The Vagina Monologues; she’s a television actress appearing in supporting or guest roles on many Canadian series as well as starring in her very own show, Jann (which just so happens to be Canada’s most popular comedy series, drawing more than one million viewers per episode); she’s won eight Junos (nominated for 19); she has a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame; she’s received the SOCAN National Achievement Award; she’s been inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame; she was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal; and she’s a Member of the Order of Canada. Are you exhausted yet? I am! She’s also popular enough to have sold out her Friday night appearance at the River Rock. Here’s your chance to pick up one of only a handful of tickets available for the Thursday night performance, because—don’t forget!—she is also one of our nation’s most celebrated singer-songwriters, after all.
Tickets from $101.25
8. Chelsea Wolfe at Vogue Theatre – Thursday, November 21
Facebook/Chelsea WolfeIt’s almost impossible to pin Chelsea Wolfe down to one genre. While her first commercially available release, The Grime and the Glow, could be classified as an indie folk recording, subsequent albums delved into spookier, gothic, more experimental sounds, even touching on doom and dark wave. However, with her most recent record, Birth of Violence, the singer-songwriter has dipped her toes back into the folk waters. It’s worth mentioning that the Sacramento native has always listed a wide array of artistic influences to inform her own music, and as such, admits to having a difficult time sticking to only one style. So, with that in mind, there’s no point in arguing the fact this performer will never be pigeonholed, and that’s definitely a good thing. If you’re itching to check out an artist that will always keep you guessing, you’ve found your ticket.
Tickets from $35.79
9. The Black Keys at Rogers Arena – Sunday, November 24
Facebook/The Black KeysRiding the wave of “Wow, How Did They Get So Popular?” bands, The Black Keys are certainly the 21st century darlings of the brand. I mean, sure, this Akron duo has sold a bumper quantity of critically acclaimed, chart-topping records and racked up an impressive amount of awards (including five Grammys), so the numbers are definitely there. But even though they’ve been releasing albums on a major label since 2006, they’re still largely considered an indie band. I suppose a sizable portion of the group’s appeal can be traced to their decision to license their music to commercial entities such as Sony, Nissan and even Victoria’s Secret (so yeah, if you’ve got a Heidi Klum lingerie commercial in your arsenal, things are gonna look pretty good). Hey, whatever works! What you have here is essentially the world’s biggest garage band filling up the venue we all sentimentally refer to as “The Garage,” so I suppose it’s just meant to be.
Tickets from $80.55
10. King Diamond at Queen Elizabeth Theatre – Wednesday, November 27
Facebook/King DiamondApologies to all my friends who are absolutely freaking out over the return of King Diamond, but this guy’s charm completely eludes me. Granted, I’ve never been keen on acts whose persona employs heavily on industrial quantities of face paint (you know, like KISS, Marilyn Manson, the Kardashians), so this one is no different. Add to that equation his dog-whistle-pitched, wineglass-shattering falsetto, and you’ve got yourself a reasonably cringe-worthy dude, if you ask me. But, you’re not asking me, and that’s really okay. So before you mistake this as an opportunity to DM me with thinly veiled invitations to your sycophant Facebook party where you and your cohorts will proceed to call me derogatory names you wouldn’t utter in the presence of your mother whilst surmising the validity of my employment, just think to yourself: this is only one person’s opinion. What… ever! Though I will tell you that Mr. Diamond here (go ahead and call him “King” if you want, but he and I are not on a first name basis) is putting out his own brand of beer called Black Horsemen. I happen to like beer. So there, I’ve said something nice. You can get on with your day now.
Tickets from $60.50