By Sebastian Buzzalino
November 14, 2014
CALGARY — It could have almost been named the Kendel Carson show. On a special night designed to foster collaboration and camaraderie between three of Western Canada’s best alt-roots players, Dustin Bentall’s fiddler absolutely stole the show. From her fiery performance during the opening set with Dustin Bentall, to her additions throughout the evening to Ridley Bent and Leeroy Stagger’s sets, it seemed like no one could get enough of her playing. Carson sawed through her fiddle with relentless enthusiasm, ripping through howling solos like a virtuoso gone mad. “This was a brand new bow,” she laughed early on, presenting her frayed instrument in disbelief.
Indeed, all three outfits seemed to share an electric energy on stage at the Palomino. Bentall, Stagger and Bent had long talked about getting together for a series of one-off collaborations (this particular mini-tour lasted only four nights, two of which took place in Calgary) whenever their collective schedules allowed and it was clear from the opening songs of Bentall’s set that the three alt-roots musicians were excited to be sharing the stage. It was an easy, comfortable bill and their natural confidence and friendship filled the room. From Bentall’s pop country twang to Stagger’s methodical poetry and Bent’s outlaw storytelling, the Palomino was treated to a night of infectious sing-alongs and semi-goofy two-stepping. The artists seemed to be enjoying it as much as the audience, grinning during their sets with childlike glee.
The real spectacle, however, was saved for last: at the tail end of Bent’s set, Bentall and Stagger and their bands squished together on the small stage for a loose and semi-improvised roots jam. You could be fooled into thinking that this was a consistent practice for the bands as the songs drifted naturally from player to player, their obvious excitement bleeding off the stage. There they were, a van full of friends piled onstage, sharing music and having the time of their lives in front of a delighted crowd. It was a fantastic collaboration that can’t happen again soon enough.AB, Alberta, Dustin Bentall, Leeroy Stagger, Palomino, Ridley Bent