June 24th, 2024

Outdoor concert series playing sounds of summer at Casa


By Herald on August 2, 2021.

Shaela Miller and bandmate Paul Holden help launch the Allied Arts Council’s new Upside Down weekly concert series at Casa’s Rotary Square. Herald photo by Al Beeber

Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald

In the immortal words of 1980s hair metal outfit Autograph, “I need the music, gimme some more.”

With COVID restrictions lifted, music fans are getting their live music back thanks to the Allied Arts Council’s new Upside Down concert series Thursdays on Casa’s Rotary Square.

And as music fans know, as Autograph sang “Daytime, nighttime, anytime, things go better with rock” or music of any kind.

And the Upside Down series will be giving fans a variety of musical styles every Thursday from 4:30 until 6:30 pm. until Sept. 9.

Shaela Miller and her band opened the series last Thursday with a sizeable crowd turning out in the heat to listen to her tunes while consuming a beverage or two.

This week’s featured performer is Lemba, also known as Misha Maseka. According to her website, lembastudio.ca, she is “is an opera singer, soul singer, musical theatre enthusiast and passionate collaborator. Studying classical voice at the University of Lethbridge, she gained the ability to have flawless control and command over her instrument. Growing up all over the world, music was the only constant in her life. Once settled in Canada after moving from Australia, Misha immersed herself in performing – competing in festivals, competitions and participating in local theatre. The culmination of all of the years of experience and study brought her the opportunity to sing a role in Germany in 2016 with the Weimar Lyric Opera in a production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.

When not warming up to Puccini or Mozart, Misha performs under the alias, Lemba, singing Soul/Pop music with her band, The New Testaments. Through the process as Lemba, she has mastered the art of switching between singing styles whilst still keeping a healthy and efficient vocal technique.”

Planning for the series started in March, said Kelaine Devine, AAC communications manager.

The concert series was one of 11 endeavours to recently receive Re-Imagine Downtown Activation Grants.

“We started thinking about it in March. The building was still closed, we had no idea when we’d reopen. They were just starting to announce first doses of vaccinations and we were like ‘what can we do outside without opening the building that might be safe.’ So we started there and obviously we knew we had to be able to meet in groups larger than 10 so otherwise it would just be the band and us. And not great for the community,” Devine laughed.

“So many of our performers and live musicians haven’t been able to work so we started building the series and applying for grants,” Devine said.

“We had contacted a bunch of musicians… and we were able to pull the trigger. We were just waiting for that moment to confirm everybody’s dates.

“It’s amazing who lives in our community. People have no idea when they go out to a restaurant they’re sitting around people who have also played to thousands of people,” said Devine of the talent who lives in Lethbridge.

“It’s not just music, it’s visual arts, it’s writing. We have a lot of sort of hidden artists who call Lethbridge home and we don’t make a big deal out of them,” she said.

“These are really fun, great bands that normally you’d have to pay a lot of money to see,” Devine added.

Along with the music, there is a summer salon art show going on simultaneously, she said.

“We really thought about ways we could engage the public with the building still closed and when they reopened, we quickly pivoted as you do and made it the whole building. But originally it was going to be the two artists kiosks in Rotary Square and then we have five shadow boxes that are mounted outside on flagpoles and then we were going to face the art all out in the Rotary Square.”

With the building open now, the AAC thought “let’s take over the whole building. It’s kind of thematically neutral. There are some themes that sort of run through what people have submitted. I would say there’s a strong nature theme through some of the pieces but it’s not a pandemic show,” said Devine.

“That’s not what the artists wanted to make at this point. It’s so wide from photography, to print making to painting to sculptural installations.

“With the music going on, you can also just wander around the square and look at the installations and the shadow boxes, wander inside during a set break” or just enjoy a drink sitting on one of the bistro chairs that are set up, Devine added.

Other performers include Dave McCann on Aug. 12, Biloxi Parish on Aug. 19, Wendy Colby and Karen Romanchuk on Aug. 26, Bailey Kate on Sept. 2 and Fawns + Steven Foord on Sept. 9.

Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter

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