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Turner Valley library offers month of learning, education

The Sheep River Library's Out Loud Series brings writers, storytellers and musicians to Turner Valley throughout October.
Al Mehl
Black Diamond singer/songwriter Al Mehl is offering a free songwriting workshop in the Sheep River Library's Out Loud Series Oct. 19. (Photo Submitted)

Aspiring songwriters, poets and novelists are encouraged to get their pens ready for various activities offered by Turner Valley’s library this month.

The Sheep River Library is hosting its annual Out Loud Series, bringing in authors, musicians, poets, storytellers and other talents for a month of education and entertainment.

Al Mehl, western, folk and blues singer/songwriter and western poet, will host the first of three workshops scheduled for Oct. 19. His songwriting workshop, beginning at 9:30 a.m., will be similar to the monthly songwriting group he and fellow singer/songwriter Eva Levesque, of The Travelling Mabels, at the library.

“It will be a great sounding board for songwriters that are advanced and beginning alike,” said Mehl. “It’s for people who maybe always wanted to write a song. People usually bring some musical aptitude when they come to a group like this or they sing in the shower and fashion themselves as a lyricist and want to find a way to put music with the song.”

Mehl will discuss song structure, including the difference between a verse and chorus, and why certain structures are more typical or preferred and what makes an atypical structure work for a song. He will also get participants brainstorming song ideas.

“I hope to have a new song or two emerge by the time the session is over,” he said.

Award-winning renowned cowboy poet Doris Daley, of Black Diamond, will host a poetry workshop at noon and Bill Bunn, who teaches creative writing at Mount Royal University, will teach a story writing workshop at 2:30 p.m.

Library manager Jan Burney said the library hosts workshops for its Out Loud Series for people wanting to try a new skill.

“This year we picked three types of writing,” she said. “I really encourage people to make use of it, to really take advantage of it. These people are very skilled and very good at teaching.”

The series kicked off on Oct. 5 with Wyoming cowboy poet and humourist Andy Nelson entertaining for a full house.

On Oct. 17 at 7 p.m., Toronto author Terry Fallis is returning to the series for a fourth year to talk about his novels and the writing process. Fallis is a two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for humour and acclaimed novelist. He wrote seven novels, including Albatross released recently on the bestsellers list.

“He’s a very good speaker,” said Burney. “He’s great interacting one-on-one. He’s funny and he’s good with an audience. It’s a hard combination to find.”

Burney describes Fallis’ books as accessible.

“He writes from a first person narrative and the main character has usually got some kind of flaw that you can relate to,” she said. “All kinds of hilarity ensues from there. They’re quite funny to read and they’re well written.”

Calgary author and musical therapist Jennifer Buchanan, who bridges music and medicine and recently published the book Wellness Incorporated, will talk about musical therapy at a session Oct. 25 at 7 p.m., said Burney.

“There’s a very strong interest in this area for alternative wellness topics and so I thought it would be a good one,” she said. “People certainly are very interested in music here. It’s a community with a lot of musicians.”

The final event, which is already filled up, is a performance on Oct. 26 by the music group The Wardens, who share haunting harmonies and gripping tales of Canada’s national parks.

Burney said attendance for all activities is free as the Friends of the Sheep River Library pay for the events through fundraising initiatives.

“We want the library to be accessible to everybody,” she said. “As much as we possibly can we really don’t charge for programs. For some people it will be the first time to put their foot in the door to come to these kinds of events. It gives us a chance to really show the extent of everything that we have. You want people to see that the money given to the library brings a lot to the community.”

Anyone interested in attending any of the events or workshops must register by calling the Sheep River Library at 403-933-3278.


Tammy Rollie

About the Author: Tammy Rollie

Tammy Rollie is a staff reporter at and the Western Wheel newspaper, focusing on Wheel's West, local arts and culture and entertainment. For story tips contact
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