MUSIC PREVIEW: The Needle and the damage undone

Shout Out Out Out Out GigCity EdmontonAll hail the new Sidetrack Cafe!

Whoa, talk about high expectations for the new Needle Vinyl Tavern, which makes its grand opening in the old CKUA building on Jasper Avenue this weekend. The spiffed up space promises to deliver the best in both local and touring indie bands in a comfortable environment – and give the long-suffering Edmonton music scene a kick in the ass in the process.

Breaking the place in on Thursday night is a catch: The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer, a hip folk fester’s favourite. Friday’s headliner is Joel Plaskett, and Saturday sees the hometown dance-punk heroes Shout Out Out Out Out (pictured). Coming soon are the Elwins on March 31, The Wet Secrets on 9, and the Canadian college heroes Sloan – sold out already – on April 15.

There’s going to be live music every night in a roomy room (400+ capacity) that people might actually want to hang out in on a regular basis, enjoying the sumptuous decor, good food and clean bathrooms – while knowing they’re almost always guaranteed to get decent live music. Like the Sidetrack Cafe. Anyone remember the Sidetrack Cafe? Doesn’t really matter. Every generation of club-goers has its favourite music hangout, and this one is offered the Needle, among other new places popping up all over the place. There’s your Live Music Initiative.

All show information can be found on the Needle’s website.

Thursday 10

Ian Fletcher Thornley – Sorry to obsess about band names all the time, but this is important. So first he was the guy from Big Wreck, then the mononamed Thornley, then Ian Thornley and now he’s added an extra Fletcher. What the hell, man? You’re confusing the brand. What remains clear is that he’s an astounding guitarist (trained at Berklee) who has knack for writing catchy motifs, or “hooks,” and happens to have a terrific vocal yarl to complete the rock star package. Whatever he calls himself, this guy is a strong presence in both modern and classic rock for good reason. Starlite Room, with Chris Caddell, 8 pm, $25 advance

Friday 11

Hexray – Some fun stuff seems to be going on here with one of Calgary’s premiere chill-pop bands sharing the stage with fellow Calgarian Laura Leif. Also on the bill are Edmonton’s up-and-coming Morewine along with Choir and Marching Band. It’s hands across Alberta! This is an all-ages show at a venue called The Alley (below the Mill Creek Cafe, 9562 82 Ave), 9 pm, $10 at the door.

Saturday 12

Kimberley MacGregor – This soulful singer-songwriter is just of the fine female acts featured in the SkirtsAfire festival, a showcase of women in the arts happening all weekend at venues around town. MacGregor, whose latest album is I Am My Own, sings at the Alberta Avenue Community League, 9210 118 Avenue, with the experimental rapper Tzadeka opening the show. Admission to all SkirtsAfire events is by donation.

F&M – These guys are mellow, no doubt about that, on par with the Cowboy Junkies, one of the mellowest bands ever. This well-entrenched Edmonton band headlines a Heart of the City community “friendraiser” at Studio 96, expected to be a laid back yet captivating affair. Favourite local singer-songwriter Tyler Butler is also on the bill. Event will be documented by CJSR and NTT Films. Doors at 7 pm, suggested $10 donation.

Sunday 13

Heart – What about love? Don’t you want someone to care about you? Of course you do. That’s the obvious answer to one of the greatest female rock ‘n’ roll classics framed within a question of all time, by one of the greatest female rock ‘n’ roll bands of all time – with deep roots, an incredible catalogue of songs, and now riding high on renewed success in a sterling example of the “grandparent effect” (because the previous generation usually hates the one just above or below it; grandma, however, she’s cool – once the kids are old enough to figure it out) Heart is back again for the “Queens of Sheba” tour with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts – speaking of great female rock bands. Should be a treat at the Jubilee Auditorium, 7:30 pm, $85-$135 advance

Tuesday 15

Slayer – Quick lesson for The Mayor, who was spotted at the AC/DC concert last fall giving his version of the “devil horns” salute, except his thumb was out, so it was more like a “Spiderman.” It’s arm high, palm out, forefinger and little finger up, thumb in, now shout at the devil. There you go. Try it out with Slayer at the Shaw Conference Centre, won’t you? The undefeatable metal legends tour upon their new album Repentless, their first since the death of original guitarist Jeff Hanneman in 2013. Testament and Carcass are also on the bill. 6:30 pm, general admission $55 advance