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Deep South blues coming to Turner Valley

An eclectic down-home act is making their first appearance Beneath the Arch this weekend. Blues and jazz musician Ryan McNally is playing as the next installment in the beloved concert series at the Flair n’ Derrick on Nov. 19.
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Blues and jazz musician Ryan McNally is set to play Beneath the Arch in Turner Valley Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy Ryan McNally)

An eclectic down-home act is making his first appearance Beneath the Arch this weekend.

Blues and jazz musician Ryan McNally is playing as the next installment in the beloved concert series at the Flare n’ Derrick on Nov. 19.

Not done justice by any single genre label, McNally's music spans across acoustic blues and jazz, often with a decidedly southern slant and delving into ‘hillbilly jug band’ territory.

This will be his first time playing the Diamond Valley area, but he's no stranger to Alberta, having played Calgary's Ironwood in past years.

“I've studied different old folk styles, and blues and jazz obviously, when people ask me I usually just say I play country blues,” McNally said, adding he sometimes reaches for older sounds. “I play a lot of old folk music, American folk music.

“When I’m playing this week Beneath the Arch, it’s going to be a bit more blues and jazz with elements of that, tunes I write, and even some country and rock 'n' roll.”

While often performing solo and with others, McNally’s Turner Valley show will feature a four-piece band.

“I’ll be on guitar, there’ll be a clarinet player, upright bass, and drums,” he said.

“We’ll definitely be playing some up-tempo music, so if people want to dance, I think they’ll be able to with some of the tunes.

“We’re starting off the show with more of an acoustic feel, then jumping straight into some more up-tempo full band kind of sound.”

The multi-instrumentalist has been known to bring any kind of instrument to bear, including banjo, mandolin, harmonica, and even once – according to concert organizer Suzanne Searle – a tuba.

“Since COVID I’ve ended up joining a few bands and playing pedal steel (guitar) - I’ve been doing a lot of different stuff,” said McNally, adding the return to live performance has been a blessing.

“It’s been really great – gearing out of COVID it’s an adjustment, but all the audiences and concert-goers have been really excited.”

Having grown up in Quebec south of Montreal, and residing in Whitehorse, McNally is seldom stationary, often touring both solo and in a band.

Much of his last album Steppin’ Down South was written while staying in New Orleans, where he spent a few winters.

“It’s beautiful there – before COVID I was going there every winter for about four years,” McNally said, adding he is currently working on another album for the new year.

“I’ve got a lot of other stuff just waiting in the can to get released.”

The Beneath the Arch’s non-profit society is also now selling 50-50 and raffle tickets, which go to fund a bursary it offers each year, aimed at nurturing creative pursuits in youth.

Opening to applications in the spring, the bursary is open to students in grades 4-12 pursuing the performing arts and who reside in the western portion of Foothills County, with 16 Street West as the boundary.

Tickets are $5 each, available at the concerts or by calling 403-813-8610, with the draw taking place on April 29 (attendance isn’t mandatory).

With 2,500 printed, there’s $4,500 in prizes to be won, including a canoe package from Tom’s Marine, a golf package from Turner Valley Golf Club, and e-bike rentals from Black Diamond’s Rollick Co. donated e-bike rentals, and a charcuterie board from The Market in Black Diamond.

For more information visit beneaththearch.ca/bursary

Ryan McNally and his band play Saturday, Nov. 19 from 7:30-10 p.m. with doors open at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $25, $10 for children ages 6-12. Tickets can be found at beneaththearch.ca/concerts


Brent Calver

About the Author: Brent Calver

Award-winning photojournalist for the Okotoks Western Wheel and OkotoksToday.ca
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