June 22nd, 2024

The Chevelles ready to put their career in Park

By Lethbridge Herald on May 31, 2024.

The Chevelles, an audience favourite Lethbridge-based party band, is closing the curtain on a 25-year run at the end of this year. Photo courtesy of CATTONI PHOTOGRAPHY

Al Beeber – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

After one final year-end party, Lethbridge party band The Chevelles is closing the curtain on a 25-year run at the end of 2024.

The Chevelles, which has toured coast to coast and developed a huge audience for their family-friendly high-energy shows, are going to thank their fans New Year’s Eve with one final roof-raising show.

The venue of that final gig has yet to be determined but in the meantime, music fans from across southern Alberta will still have chances to see the four-man electrical band perform.

The Chevelles have a long and interesting history in Lethbridge; in fact, the band renamed itself from the Beaumonts partway through a New Year’s Eve gig in 2001.

Three of the band members – founder and manager Don Plettell on drums and vocals, Tim Carter on lead vocals and lead guitar and Scott Kaneshiro on lead vocals, rhythm guitar and keyboard – have been with the band since the start. Bassist, bagpiper and lead vocalist Joe Brewster joined after original member David Chomiak departed in 2020.

On their website, members are known as T.T. Chevelle (Plettell), Buck Chevelle (Carter), Woody Chevelle (Kaneshiro) and Sheamus Chevelle (Brewster).

So far The Chevelles have performed nearly 1,700 shows, Plettell and Carter said in an interview announcing the decision to put the Chevelles permanently in “Park.” 

With full-time jobs and after so many years playing virtually every weekend and spending time away from their families while touring, the band decided the time was right to turn off the amplifiers and put away the drum sticks.

Carter says it’s rare for a band to stay together so long and only have one member leave.

And The Chevelles – which have a repertoire of more than 500 songs – are proud that unlike many other musical acts, the audience hears a live performance every time they hit the stage with no auto-tuners, backup tracks or pitch correction technology.

“We’re completely live. We didn’t want to do it that way. Our heroes didn’t do it that way,” said Carter of any trickery. 

Neither the self-taught Carter nor Plettell read music – they both play by ear and Plettell says his children have learned that way, as well.

Plettell and Carter began playing together after Carter’s dad recommended him to fill in for a vacant spot in another  band that the former was performing with.

“What’s a dad going to say? That his 20-year-old kid is fabulous,” laughed the 68-year-old  Plettell who played in well-known bands such as Mantis and the Peace Dogs.

The template for The Chevelles was The Beaumonts, which Plettell recalls played its first gig in Coaldale and also hit the stage with rock staples Prism at the old New Dayton Hotel. 

The Chevelle’s first show was at the old Bo Diddley’s with it starting as the Beaumonts and entering a new era as The Chevelles as the night wound down.

Plettell, who Carter describes as the business leader of the band, thought perhaps they would play perhaps one show a month but quickly they were doing two a week.

After they performed at the Scott Tournament of Hearts here in 2007, they were hired by a promoter to perform at other curling events including the 2008 Canada Cup.

At the Scotties here, they were supposed to play half-hour sets but instead were on the stage for three hours for each show instead.

“We were like rock stars – we started to fly to gigs instead of driving,” said Carter of the curling gigs with the band performing twice in Victoria and also in Charlottetown, PEI and many places in between over the years.

While the band members originally played straight classic rock tunes from the 1960s and ’70s, Plettell looked at audience demographics and saw an opportunity to expand their horizons by playing top songs of any era.

And they attracted fans to shows they’d never seen before with Plettell’s concept which has the band playing everything from tunes by Bill Haley and His Comets to The Weeknd.

“A lot of bands just play what they like and don’t understand why they don’t get popular enough,” said Carter.

“We go for songs that people know,” songs that will get audience members on the dance floor, he said, adding that any tune which can get 500 people dancing is his favourite tune.

The Chevelles have always tried to appeal to a broad audience with their performances, preferring to be more like Frank Sinatra than Motley Crue with their stage presence, said Carter.

Plettell, whose first instrument was piano, took up drums in his teens when he played lead snare for the Sea Cadets. His first musician’s job, he recalls, was at Halloween in 1974 – a gig booked by the legendary Ron Sakamoto.

He recalls the heyday of local music in the 1970s and ‘80s when numerous venues had music six nights a week, recalling such performance spots as the Park Plaza and El Rancho.

In that era, the local band scene had about 30 musicians who would rotate about every six to nine months among the different groups, he recalled

One of his bands, The Peace Dogs, Plettell recalled, played its first show and last on New Year’s Eve.

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My buds! Local legends! What a run!

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