Altameda comes full circle with Bailey concert
Edmonton band Altameda opens the Rose City Roots season at the Bailey Theatre in Camrose on Friday at 8 p.m., doors open at 7 p.m. Photo by Cooper & O’Hara
The opportunity to play the Bailey Theatre to open the Rose City Roots season is a matter of coming full circle for Erik Grice and Altameda.
The Edmonton band’s drummer is no stranger to Camrose, as a high school student he and Altameda bass player Todd Andrews regularly played the Elks Hall as part of the alternative rock band Lions for Sheep.
Things will be a little different for Friday night’s 8 p.m. show.
“It’s a crazy thing thinking back to doing those shows, now we get to play at the theatre in Camrose, which is really cool,” said Grice, adding he never though theatres would be a venue that latched onto their band. “It’s a bizarre and validating feeling to be welcomed into theatres ... It’s certainly different because when you’re doing bar shows or club shows or even festivals, you have to be a little more meticulous when you’re trying to get peoples’ attention. You have a little more to prove sometimes when you’re trying to perform over bar noise … Then you get on stage at a theatre and people have come just to watch you. There’s just a whole other level of respect.”
Altameda formed in the spring of 2015 almost by accident. The future members of the club had gathered in a studio to help Troy Snatrese record a solo album. The chemistry among the long-time friends, however, was immediate and the intentions of a solo career were at least for the time being shelved.
They had talked on the periphery off and on over the years of forming a group, but it took this chance session to come together.
“Three of the boys up until this last month were living together for the last couple of years, so there was always just that very musical vibe around us as a group of friends,” said Grice, of the band that also features Matt Kraus on the piano and keyboard. “It’s one of those things, what would we be doing anyways? We’d just be playing … Everything always comes back to playing music together. It’s a really nice default setting.”
Snatrese is the lyrical brain behind most of the Altameda catalogue, however, the rest of the band has filled in with their own musical instincts and ideas.
The result of the collaboration is sound steepened in what Grice describes as Canadiana. All four are big Neil Young fans, but they also have influences from the likes of Bob Dylan, Steely Dan, Elton John, James Taylor and Jackson Brown.
“It’s Americana influenced, but we’re all Canadian Prairie boys,” said Grice.
Their sound has been well received as their single “Dirty Rain” off their album of the same name, hit No. 1 on the CKUA charts.
They are an Edmonton band, but they are not reinventing the wheel with the stories they tell. They hit on timeless themes that have been told forever, but are finding new ways to keep the idea fresh.
“You can draw a lot of parallels for a lot of people … a lot of people experience heart break and celebration,” said Grice. “It’s perhaps just a reflection of the human condition and you’re hearing stories that may not be about a particular person or a particular story or thing that happened to one of us … but I think it’s something that has been shared across a lot of different platforms. A lot of people that are sharing those same stories.”
Altameda is part of an evolving and vibrant music scene in the provincial capital and were nominated for two Edmonton Music Awards, for Album of the Year (Dirty Rain) and Rock Recording of the Year for the song “Borrowed Suit, Secondhand Dress.”
According to Grice the atmosphere of the scene has completely changed over the last several years. When he was just starting out in music, it was easy to get squeezed out in a market over-stuffed with punk rock and folk rock bands, they type of music he was playing did not quite fit the same vibe. Now everybody supports each other.
“Now you’ve got so many good bands coming out of Edmonton because the scene has become extremely forgiving and extremely nurturing and extremely open,” said Grice. “There’s been a lot of people advocating for less cliques and there’s a lot of really good people running venues now. There’s a ton of positive energy in the scene.”
It is a bit of golden era for the city in that regard, to the point where when Altameda was touring in Europe in May they played with other bands from Edmonton that they had not played with before.
Their Friday show is much closer to home, but it just about didn’t happen. They accidently double-booked the night with a gig in Edmonton at the Starlite Room as part of the BreakOut West festival — which gives local acts a spotlight. However, the timing of the two shows works out where they can play the Bailey at 8 p.m., pack up the van and make it back to downtown Edmonton for their 1 a.m. set.
“It will be a little bit of a gong show, but it will be worth it,” said Grice.
Doors open at 7 p.m. with tickets available at the Bailey box office and through www.tickets.baileytheatre.com