PREVIEW: Finger Eleven headlines night of BVJ alternatives

At this time of year, whole heaps of local folk are thinking Big Valley. This year’s likely no different, thanks a lineup that is just stellar, by country pop standards. Stellar, we tells ya.

The opening night is always a chance for local and regional acts to be seen in the saloon kickoff party, which this year is headlined by Sawyer Brown. We admit to some level of embarrassment at remembering them win Star Search about 30 years ago. Since then , they’ve become Nashville mainstays.

But if you’d rather stay in Edmonton, there are some awesome options tonight and all weekend.

For one, there’s that rare commodity, a band that changed its name after already achieving some success, the band once known as the Rainbow Butt Monkeys,  later known as Finger Eleven. The change worked: the sound got more serious and the band went from playing the southern Ontario college circuit to Jay Leno, and many a hip soundtrack.  They’ll rip up the Capital Ex mainstage, gates at 8 p.m. Admission is free with fair entry.

I think that name stuck so much because this is the one and only band we all have been in,” bassist Rick Jackett recently told media. “With the Internet things don’t go away anymore. At the time the name suited our style and attitude, but we realized that a name like that puts up walls to people before they hear your music. We didn’t want to be 35-year-old Rainbow Butt Monkeys.

Meanwhile, over at Rusty Reed’s House of Blues, there’s swinging blues  with sax man extraordinaire Dave Babcock and The Nightkeepers at 9 p.m.. Babcock, a Grant Mac jazz program grad, has carved out a nice career as a blues sideman as well as front several of his own bands to considerable acclaim, and he’s played with top guys like Kansas City piano man Jay McShann, British blues legend Long John Baldry and former Paul Butterfield contemporary Amos Garrett.

Finally (although not really, just among the stuff we like tonight), there’s a CD release for local electronic outfit Secret Squares at the New Wunderbar; the group have some excellent mixes up on Soundcloud, if you’re of the mood to crank the sub and let your backbone slide. We’ve included one below.

There, now: all the fun of live music and drinking without any of the rising damp in a tent.
We Don’t Stop (Radio Edit) by Secret Squares