NYE GIGS: Should Auld Lang Syne be forgot?

Robert Burns GigCity Edmonton

Robert Burns asked a complicated question

Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?

It’s a complicated question from such a sappy song we only hear once a year. Christmas carols you hear a few dozen times for a month, Happy Birthday as many times as you have family members and friends, or acquaintances, but Auld Lang Syne you hear only once. Nobody’s ever sober long enough to think about what it means. Nobody knows what it means – least of all the poor musicians forced to relearn and play it at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

So should we lose touch with old friends? We should not. Depends on how close they are. What about acquaintances? What about sentimental old songs written by weepy Scottish poets?

Here’s a dirty little secret: A lot of musicians don’t like playing New Year’s Eve. Sure, the money’s pretty good, or used to be, but the people get way too drunk, and unless you’re a name act, you probably have to play Auld Lang Syne at midnight. (Helpful tip for musicians only: The chord changes are G-D-G-C-G-D-C-G , repeat 25 times. You only have to know the first line “should old acquaintances be forgot and never brought to mind” and the crowd will drunkenly bray the rest like Louie Louie. For extra fun, turn it into a punk polka!)

A more complete list of New Year’s Eve gigs in Edmonton was requested (yet still not complete; sorry, Tiesto). The question of whether Auld Lang Syne will be played at midnight was put to as many musicians as possible. Those who responded are noted below:


Ann Vriend will be singing Auld Lang Syne

Ann Vriend will be singing Auld Lang Syne

New Year’s Eve at McDougall Church – This event in support of the Edmonton Food Bank features Festival City Fiddlers, The Carolines, Braden Gates, Back Porch Swing, Jim Findlay Trio, Marco Claveria and finally, the band that wins the privilege of performing Auld Lang Syne, Scott Cook and The Long Weekends. Doors at 6:45 pm, admission by donation.

Paula Perro and the Project – Dependable local show band rings in 2015 at the Old Timer’s Cabin, 9430 99 Street, $75 includes 4 course dinner. Auld Lang Syne? “Despite some whining we will be doing that glorious standard,” says Paula, “even if nobody knows what it means.”

Rooster Davis Group – Treme ahoy! Local pianist David Aide possesses Dr. John mojo, accompanied by acclaimed Edmonton vocalist Ann Vriend in a night of New Orleans goodness. Blue Chair Café, 7 pm, $120, includes 7-course dinner. Auld Lang Syne? “Yep!” says Ann.

Lex Justice – Fans may know this colourful local singer as the frontman of the electro-metal band KingDoom, but he also possesses reggae mojo he intends to show off at Mercury Room, $25 advance, BUY. Auld Lang Syne? “I will be playing Let the Good Times Roll by B.B. King. I’m not against Robbie Burns or anything Scottish, but if I’m gonna celebrate anything Scottish it would be haggis.”

The Superband – Some of the best in Edmonton’s MacEwan-trained musicians put the funk on at On the Rocks, $40 with dinner $25 without. A funky Auld Lang Syne is likely.

David Wilcox – A song like Layin’ Pipe works on so many levels, especially around here – and so does this dependable Canadian bluesman whose career stretches back to the 1970s. Century Casino, 9 pm, $92 for table seating, BUY. Bluesy Auld Lang Syne is a distinct possibility, but sometimes the name acts leave the midnight ceremony to an emcee and the Guy Lombardo recording.

Indie rock

No Auld Lang Syne for Royal Tusk

No Auld Lang Syne for Royal Tusk

Royal Tusk – The big time awaits this solid new Edmonton combo (formed from the flinders of 10 Second Epic), whose catchy anthem Shadow Of Love, from its first EP Mountain, has hit written all over it. Denizen Hall, 10311 103 Avenue, $10 advance, BUY On doing Auld Lang Syne, singer Daniel Carriere says, “No I won’t be – I quite like the song but haven’t taken the time to learn it, and we’re not a jukebox. I mean at that point we might as well learn Celebration by Kool and the Gang and Informer by Snow. Actually, scratch that! We will be playing all those jams!”

Bombchan and the Give ‘Em Hell Boys – In Bombchan, there’s serious swampy mojo striding the crossroads betwixt gritty Robert Johnson blues and alternative rock. Three chords? Ha! These guys can do it in one. Black Dog, 10 pm, $15 at the door. The Give ‘Em Hell Boys are on the midnight shift: “Yes, we did plan on playing a version of Auld Lang Syne at midnight. Probably put a country and bluegrass spin on it. Hopefully I can remember the words.”

A Wilhelm Scream – Melodic hardcore is the raison d’etre of this Massachusetts band, named for a stock TV sound effect of a guy falling off a cliff or getting shot. Anyway, solid punk rawk with attitude at the Pawnshop, with Fire Next Time and Forester. $26 advance, BUY. Punk polka Auld Lang Syne at midnight a small possibility.

River Valley Search Party – emerging local rock band rings in the new year at the Blind Duck, 10416 118 Avenue, with opener Grounded Star. 9 pm, $15 at the door, includes food and champagne at midnight. Auld Lang Syne? “We hadn’t thought of it. It’s a bit late to try to rehearse it, but we’ll see what we can do. No promises.”

[Guys, see helpful tip, above]


Elvis would want Trent Carlini to sing Auld Lang Syne

Elvis would want Trent Carlini to sing Auld Lang Syne

Robin Kelly – This Edmonton entertainer has years, nay, decades of experience paying homage to the King. Apex Casino, $99 includes dinner and champagne, doors at 7 pm. Auld Lang Syne? “I usually sing the first part and then leave the stage say happy New Year to friends and family in attendance.”

The King – Straight from Las Vegas, Trent Carlini is one of the top Elvis impersonators working today. Elvis would’ve wanted him to sing Auld Lang Syne. River Cree Casino, 7 pm, $39.50, BUY

Indie folk

Collective West – Another fine local folk band whose stringmanship is matched only by their songwriting. A hootenanny of the highest order is promised at the Artery, with Luke Thomson and the Howl. 9 pm, $12 advance, BUY. Auld Lang Syne? “We were thinking about it, but with the holidays we haven’t had time to make an arrangement.”

Dungarees – It’s nice to hear live country music once in a while at the Cook County Saloon. Positivity brims over in the music of these local good ole boys who just released their debut recording, whose very title says all that needs to be said, Ain’t Through Being Happy Yet. 8 pm, $15 advance. Auld Lang Syne? “Yes, we will in fact be playing it!”


Abba Again – Authentic in look and sound and renditions of Dancing Queen and other generation-defining hits at the Central Lions Seniors Association, 11113 113 Street, with the Rault Brothers Band opening, 7:30 pm, $100, includes deluxe buffet and champagne. Presented by S.I.R.E.N.s, supporting its charity helping young people at risk.


Mad Bomber Society – veteran local party band in the vein of the Specials or Madness, at Rocky Mountain Icehouse with opening act Mayday and the Beat Creeps. Tickets at the venue or Freecloud Records. Auld Lang Syne? Rich Bomber says, “Jonny will probably start playing it on the sax, then we’ll probably start yelling how much we hate that song, cut him off, and kick into some high energy fun!”


Amy van Keeken’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Singalong – A favourite Whyte Avenue hangout is the site for a 1950s-themed New Year’s Eve. Empress Ale House, 9912 82 Avenue, 9 pm, $25. Auld Lang Syne? “I’m not sure!” says Amy. “I think we have in the past, but I kinda forgot about it this year. Maybe?”


Striker has another song than Auld Lang Syne planned for midnight

Striker has another song than Auld Lang Syne planned for midnight

Striker – Not to be confused with the Christian metal band called Stryper, this Edmonton old-school metal band won a contest to open for Metallica in 2012, and has been rocking and working hard ever since. Starlite Room, with The Order of Chaos, Death Toll Rising, Riot City, 8 pm, advance $20, BUY. Auld Lang Syne? “The likelihood is pretty low. We have a different special song planned for midnight.”


An Evening of Music and Magic – For $192 per person, you get a free cocktail, five course dinner, entertainment from magician Rob Pearson and live music from area “gypsy jazz” combo Cam Neufeld and the Gadjo Collective – all at the rustic Hotel Selkirk in Fort Edmonton Park. Auld Lang Syne is almost a certainty.

Rum Brothers Cabaret – Local duo featuring “Rockin’ Rick” from Axe Music expands to a Las Vegas five-piece for this special occasion. Apex Casino, $75 advance, Auld Lang Syne quite likely.

David “Jukebox” Leigh – At the Irish Club, 12546 126 Street, this local singer apparently knows every song ever written, and including the one we all expect at midnight. He says, “Affirmative on Auld Lang Syne at midnight guaranteed!”