Hillbilly Burlesque
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Hillbilly Burlesque

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada | SELF

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada | SELF
Band Blues Adult Contemporary


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




If one’s not yet sampled Canadian blues, this Winnipeg fivesome serves up a most vibrant country blues-to-r&b intro. Vocalist Angel Calnek plays the bold blues siren to near-perfection on “Me And My Chauffeur Blues”, and Mississippi John Hurt’s “Richland Woman Blues” and backs up her brassy pipes with solid songwriting on “Eden”. Guitarist Darrell Sandmoen’s penning skills shine as well, dealing some extremely sly irony on “Casino”. Props to the rhythm section, serving up a smokin’ boogie on the afore-mentioned “Chauffeur” and recasting the Don Covay gem “Chain Of Fools” as a rough-and-ready blues shuffle.

Reviewed By: Duane Verh

LABEL: Self-Released
GENRE: Blues
RATING: ****

- Roots Music Report


Web: www.hillbillyburlesque.com
Location: St. Andrews, Manitoba (Canada)
Genre: Blues/Rock
Key Tracks: Me and My Chauffeur Blues, If You Leave Me (Can I Go Too), Casino

Hillbilly Burlesque (HB) is a blues rocking good time. "Crazy Life" is an EP chock full of seasoned musicianship, creative songwriting, and real life tales. HB is an incredible band.

If you listen to "Me and My Chauffeur Blues" and don't start tapping your toes and nodding your head, you my friend, have no pulse. The minute this song came on I was all ears. The lead singer's voice is the perfect match to the bands awesomeness on this tune. I liked it so much I played it three times before moving on. Great song.

"If You Leave Me (Can I Go Too)" is another one of HB's jubilant barn burners sure to get any blues/country club rockin'. What I really like about the song is the fact that it's a song about breaking up but the band makes it sound like fun to end a relationship (LOL). Awesome song by an awesome band.

"Casino" is another favorite of mine because it reminds me of a Stevie Ray Vaughn song. This blues tune is a gamblers anthem and makes you wanna go to the local casino and spend your last $10 on the 25 cent slots. If you're a high roller, this is sure to get you prepared to spend a night at the casino. Just don't do what the lyrics suggest, "Gonna take the my mortgage money, man don't really need a home. Cuz when I win my million dollars boys, I'll build a mansion of my own. Going down to the casino." This song received multiple plays before I moved.

MUSICAL GOAL: “Our ultimate goal is to be heard by as many people as possible. We want people to enjoy our music and get the same pleasure from it that we get from the music of our idols." – Hillbilly Burlesque

Review by: Senseitional - IAE Magazine - July 2011


LAST October, when snow was still a far-off twinkle in the sky, the Free Press sat down with four of Manitoba's finest ladies of the blues to chat about a fundraiser they were throwing to raise money to release the province's first CD compilation of female blues artists.

Three days later, Free Press workers went on strike, and the story never made it into the paper.

Well, it turns out those ladies of the blues can do just fine without our help. That little fundraiser they threw? It sold out. And the CD they couldn't wait to get working on? It's finished.

Tonight, the first Women in Blues Manitoba compilation CD will be unveiled at the Pyramid Cabaret, just around the corner from the Windsor Hotel where it was recorded. Singer Kathy Kennedy, who spearheaded the project, couldn't be more thrilled.

"Expect to hear some of the best blues tunes ever written," she says of the CD, which features four songs each by Kennedy, Angel Calnek and Hillbilly Burlesque, and Shelley-Lynne and the Majestics. (Blueswoman Debra Lyn Neufeld, originally slated to appear on the album, had to pull out to focus on her own upcoming CD release instead.)

In releasing the Women in Blues Manitoba CD, Kennedy hopes to start a trend. Women have a long history in the genre, from Depression-era legend Memphis Minnie to modern-day stars like Sue Foley. And yet, when most people think of the blues, the first thing that comes to mind is a heartbroken man, not the woman who done left him.

And then there's the industry itself.

"Even if you look at festival lineups, even if a festival has 10 different stages, there are not that many females on the bill that are blues performers," Kennedy muses. "I don't think in this age that there's a problem with women singing the blues. So I don't know why there's not more things for them."

Solution: create your own opportunities. Women in Blues Manitoba isn't just an album -- it's something of a commitment. Going forward, Kennedy hopes to grow the project to include tours featuring blueswomen from across the country -- and more albums.

Maybe the blues will prove to be a growing sector in a shrinking economy. After all, what could be more appealing to someone who just lost their job than someone else singing about how they ain't had one?

"We are headed for a recession, and I think people will be drawn to the blues. They're definitely singing it a lot more," Kennedy says, and laughs. "Whether we get paid for it or not will be another thing."

The Women in Blues Manitoba CD release party happens tonight at the Pyramid Cabaret. Doors at 7 p.m., show starts at 10. Tickets are $17 at the door. 92 CITI FM host Howard Mandshein will be MC.

- Winnipeg Free Press - February 21, 2009

"THE INSIDER By Maureen Scurfield"

Funny how the blues can cheer you up. Women in Blues pulled a happy, boisterous mail/female, gay/straight, young/old gang who managed to snag concert tickets early. Four female singers and their bands hit the Windsor stage for the sold-out show.

Thunder Bay import Tracy K, who plays a powerhouse harmonica and manages to sing hot blues between bars, crowned the evening. Angel Calnek & Hillbilly Burlesque kicked it off, waking everybody up. Psst!

Her trademark Day-Glo red hair is not a wig. Organizer Kathy Kennedy and up-and-comer Claire Still got everyone up dancing, and the four acts were captured on tape for a live CD. Juicy bits: Tracy K says she got the K in the divorce settlement because she'd already recorded under that name...Still was so tickled to have mayoral candidate Judy Alphabet in the audience she hustled over for a photo with her. Angel Calnek, who's had a heart attack in middle age, says she's only doing what she loves now, like a 2011 tour of northwestern Ontario. Kennedy says they still have to raise more money for the recording project, which means more concerts coming up. - Winnipeg Free Press - October 20, 2010



St. Andrew's-based Hillbilly Burlesque kicked off a full house of blues Saturday night, with front woman Angel Calnek belting out sultry covers and gritty originals for the Women in Blues live CD.

Winnipeg's Windsor Hotel held the fourth Women in Blues concert - a series that began in 2005 to celebrate the blues genre and the local women who sing and play it. The first concert CD was recorded once again at the Windsor in October 2008 and released February 2009, and has garnered national and international airplay including on CBC's Holger Peterson and his Saturday Night Blues. It's also a permanent fixture in John Einerson's Manitoba Music Exhibit at the Manitoba Museum, and will be played on Dan Akroyd's House of Blues radio show, one of the series' sponsors.

Calnek and her alternative country-blues band have been performing in Hillbilly Burlesque for the last 10 years, although Calnek has been singing in bands since the 70s.

"I have to sing, it's what I was meant to do," said Calnek. "I was given a gift, it's the thing I love. It's a great band, and it's just way too much fun."

Calnek said she loves being a part of this recorded concert series.

"There's something really special when you get women involved," she said. "There are no egos involved. We're all good friends, and we support each other so much."

Frontman Darrell Sandmoen said that beyond roots and blues, he likes to think of Hillbilly Burlesque as "song renovators."

"We never play it like a cover song," he said. "We try to capture the essence of the song but try to make it our own."

Kathy Kennedy of Winnipeg, Claire Still of the Pas, and Tracy K of Beausejour also performed for the recording, which should be released in a few months. For more information on Women in Blues Manitoba, go to www.myspace.com/womeninbluesmanitoba and for upcoming Hillbilly Burlesque shows, go to www.myspace.com/hillbillyburlesque. - The Selkirk Record - October 21, 2010


Friday, January 20, 2012
Featured Blues CD Review - Hillbilly Burlesque "Crazy Life"

Hillbilly Burlesque decided to celebrate their 10th anniversary together in style, and did it by putting out a Debut Album, showcasing music that spanned their history from 2001 to 2010, called "Crazy Life". They refer to it as "an eclectic mix of rocking country and gospel blues all flavoured with Hillbilly Burlesque's famous wholesome raunchiness", a statement I can fully attest to, after already given it a handful of listens. Released in March of 2011, "Crazy Life" received extensive rotation on "commercial, college and Internet radio stations across the globe". It was also featured on many blues shows, most notably, Holgar Peterso’s Saturday Night Blues on CBC Radio.
Hillbilly Burlesque is Canadian band which hail out of the province of Manitoba and are yet another one of a number of great Canadian bands mainly fronted by a dynamic and powerful female Vocalist, namely for Hillbilly Burlesque being Angel Calnek. Hillbilly Burlesque is also a amazingly versatile band whom play as either a duo, trio, or five piece band. In addition to Angel Calnek, whom performs Lead and Background Vocals, the band also consists of members Darrell 'Slide Boy' Sandmoen (Lead/Background Vocals, Guitars, and Bass on Track 6 "Humble Knee"), John Neal (Bass), Julene Gravett (Drums/Tambourine), and K.C. Kramer (Harmonica/12 String Electric Green Monster). Between them they have been involved in over a dozen bands. Hillbilly Burlesque's inspiration came from the greats of the 20', 30's, and 40's, such as Leadbelly, Memphis Minnie and Jimmie Rodgers and it is the Country Blues from that time period that they recrafted and made uniquely their own.

"Crazy Life" consists of 10 Tracks of which half of them are Originals, 2 written by Angel Calnek, and 3 written by Darrell 'Slide Boy' Sandmoen. For the Covers they chose a great mix, which included the music of Ernest Lawler, whom was also known as Little Son Joe, Huddie Ledbetter (Lead Belly), Mississippi John Hurt, and Don Covay. They also covered a Tradition song call Humble Knee aka Every Humble Knee Must Bow.

Special Guests on "Crazy Life", whom performed on various Tracks included Paul Hatcher, Ken Pinchin, Patrick Boggs, Jan Harding-Jensen, and Craig & Kitty Buckaroo.

Their were a lot of favorites for me on "Crazy Life" and basically they started at Track 3, the Ernest Lawler cover called "Me And My Chauffeur Blues". It started out with a catchy quick Guitar blast, that sounded to me like a cut off "Good Mornin' Little School Girl", like really quickly Good Mornin' Little... A fast and raunchy ala Memphis Minnie style tune.

The next favorite was Track 4 "Casino", a tell tale song about the lure and letdown of gambling. Well sung by Angel, with great Harmonica work via K.C. Kramer. This one was written by Darrell 'Slide Boy' Sandmoen.

My next favorite was the Gospel tune, Track 6 "Humble Knee", which was really pumped up with the addition of Special Guests, The Billyhead Gospel Choir, (Ken Pinchin, and Craig & Kitty Buckaroo), as Background Vocals.

Their were 2 more favorites on "Crazy Life" I really loved, Track 7 the Lead Belly cover, "On A Monday" and the closing Track, Don Covay's "Chain Of Fools". My introduction and love of the song "On A Monday" was via listening to Johnny Cash sing a version of it for which he switched it up and called it "I Got Stripes" and it is one of my favorite Cash songs. "On A Monday" follows the Lead Belly version and as far as I am concerned it was done to perfection. "Chain Of Fools" was perhaps the best way to end this album by showcasing all the band especially the great Guitar work of Darrell 'Slide Boy' Sandmoen. "Chain Of Fools" was recorded Live at the 2010 Women in Blues Manitoba Concert at the Windsor Hotel in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

For me "Crazy Life" was a fabulous introduction to yet another fabulous Canadian Blues Band. I enjoyed listening to "Crazy Life" immensely and actually took time out from writing this review on several occasions so that I could just concentrate on the great music. Hillbilly Burlesque are a great band with an equally great and unique style and sound and I am really looking forward to their new release, of which they hope to have out early this year, 2012.

"Crazy Life" gets my 5***** Rating... Highly Recommended and Thoroughly Enjoyed...

Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network) - Blues Underground Network - January 20, 2012


Kenora Daily Miner and News
Friday, February 3, 2012 jthompson@bowes.com

“A funny thing happened on the way to the bar in 2003 ...”

When the ligaments popped in Angel Calnek’s ankle, she had no idea her band, Hillbilly Burlesque, would be blowing in the wind and still sticking together nearly a decade later.
The group had begun recording two years prior and without its “head diva” to do management and promotion, it was up on two wheels while she was hobbling on one leg.

Back into the studio with a fresh set of songs a few years later, Calnek suffered a heart attack.

The reality that kicked in reminded her of the song The Fire Wagon, a sad southern blues tune about a house burning down in a town with no fire wagon coming. Hillbilly Burlesque takes that story and transforms it into an upbeat delta blues style on the verge of rock. And that’s exactly what Calnek has done to her life.

“After my heart attack, something changed for me,” she said. “If I get an extra day, let’s just give ‘er. Every day I get is just an extra blessing. When we go up on stage, it’s such a blessing and it’s just giving away your all every time you play because you never know when it might be the last.”

Hillbilly Burlesque is exactly what it sounds like: A Midwestern rebellious and risque interpretation of last century’s speakeasy blues. It’s almost unnervingly exciting, prohibition-era, party-like-we’re-breaking-the-law music.

Calnek’s vocals identify as a refined Janis Joplin and it’s easy to hear as the velvet-laced celebration of her free spirit. That distinguished characteristic comes out even clearer when the band turns the lights down for a slow dance.

Ten years after the original recordings, the band produced Crazy Life, a first album retrospective on their 2000s that could easily have been written in the 1920s or 1940s.

“We renovate those songs. We don’t copy them traditionally note for note or melody for melody,” she said. “We take things and turn them into what we want them to be but still honour the original thought behind the song and the people who wrote those songs. I love my ballads but when we get ‘er working, it’s pretty hard to sit in your seat.”

Hillbilly Burlesque will play at the Lakeside Inn on Saturday night and spend its third set combining forces with Kenora’s own Big Boogaloo. Tickets are available at the venue, Johnson’s Pharmacy, and Hojoe’s. - Kenora Daily Miner and News - February 3, 2012

"3 1/2 Stars! Hillbilly Burlesque Crazy Life (Independent)"

3 1/2 Stars! Hillbilly Burlesque Crazy Life (Independent)

Honky-tonk blues band Hillbilly Burlesque couldn’t be more aptly named. The band’s first album, Crazy Life, opens with the wild and fun Eden, which evokes the kind of live show/musical romp that this band must put on. Me and My Chauffer Blues makes effective use of raunchy "riding" puns in a variation of the cheeky-sexy rockabilly tradition. Hillbilly Burlesque’s cover of Chain of Fools reappropriates the song in the band’s style — what good covers are supposed to do — and makes it clear singer Angel Calnek can belt it out. With the exception of a couple skip-worthy tracks (Laid Down Next to You and On A Monday), the whole album is loud, infectious and attention-grabbing.– Emily Wessel - Uptown Magazine - February 9, 2012


This year Hillbilly Burlesque celebrate their tenth anniversary making down home country blues together.

It’s a strange twist of fate that soon after the birth of the Billies back in 2001, lead vocalist Angel Calnek injured herself on the way to a gig, the injury starting a chain of health complications that ultimately led to her very traumatic heart attack in 2009.

It’s been a long road back to good health but during it all, the band continued to forge ahead musically (although at a subdued pace) creating their unique arrangements of classic country blues from the 20s, 30s and 40s and crafting originals influenced by blues, country, gospel and rock.

Numerous recording sessions over the years document the band’s growth to their current wholesome raunchiness that endears them to fans old and new. To celebrate their tenth year, they’ve compiled a collection of these recordings starting with their very first event as a band, a 2001 recording session at Private Ear Studios in Winnipeg with Lloyd Peterson at the board.

This year Hillbilly Burlesque release these recordings as their debut CD called Crazy Life - a ten year retrospective!

The CD launch will be in early April (date and venue TBA) and followed April 30th with a three season Gypsy Tour across Ontario and Manitoba.

Band leaders and life partners Darrell Sandmoen and Angel Calnek take five months off their ‘crazy life’ and embark upon an exciting and rejuvenating gypsy tromp through the wilds of NW Ontario. The tour includes performances in acoustic duet format at house concerts, and summer music festivals showcasing the entire five piece Hillbilly Burlesque band.

During the tour Sandmoen and Calnek will disappear into the wilderness on canoe trips for songwriting and fishing (the big trout!) and resurface for gigs and visits with friends and family. The Gypsy Tour will be recorded in HD video, digital audio, photography and journal for the 2012 release of a duet album, music video and book documenting the experience.

The Billies have also recorded with other projects over the course of this timeline including Guess Who’s Home, Transistor 66’s 2005 compilation tribute to the Guess Who by local talent and Women in Blues Manitoba (WIB), Kat Blues Productions’ 2008 live recording of a women’s blues concert at the Windsor Hotel, Winnipeg’s Home of the Blues. The show included the Billies, Shelley Lynne and the Majestics from Brandon and Winnipeg’s Kathy Kennedy and Debra Lyn Neufeld. Featuring three of the bands this WIB CD is the first its kind in Manitoba and is a permanent fixture in John Einarson’s Manitoba Music Exhibition at the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature.

Another CD they participated in is Women in Blues Manitoba #2, a live recording of the second WIB concert held October 2010 back at the Windsor. This concert was sponsored by blues aficionado Dan Akroyd who has the original Women in Blues Manitoba CD in rotation on his blues radio show. WIB is also supported by Holgar Peterson of Stony Plain Records and played on Saturday Night Blues. This CD is scheduled to be released in April 2011.

The time is now and Hillbilly Burlesque is ready to release the past and embark on many more years of happily ensconcing their fans in good times and good music!

Contact Hillbilly Burlesque at (204) 482-5165 or email hillbillyburlesque@mts.net. Snail mail address is 888 Pigeon Bluff Road, St. Andrews, Manitoba Canada R1A 4K1
- Hillbilly Burlesque


1985 - Folks Like Us - Various Artists: Angel Calnek
1990 - Going Back to the Fields: Muddy River Stringers (Angel Calnek)
1997 - I Say Boom Chukka Lukka: The Ricardos (Darrell Sandmoen)
1999 - Music for Peace - Various Artists - DROG Records, distributed by Outside Music: Compilation of 34 songs about peace: Angel Calnek & Darrell Sandmoen
2002 - 60 Second Songs - Various Artists - DROG Records: 88 sixty second tunes by 88 different artists: Hillbilly Burlesque Duo
2003 - Where There's Beauty - Beth Martens: Angel Calnek
2006 - Guess Who's Home - Transistor 66 Records : Compilation CD of Guess Who covers by local Manitoba bands: Hillbilly Burlesque covers Star Baby
2009 - Women in Blues Manitoba - Produced by KatBlues Productions: Live recording of Women in Blues concert #2 in October 2008: Hillbilly Burlesque
2009 - Home - Rick Yarish: Angel Calnek & Darrell Sandmoen
2011 - Crazy Life - Hillbilly Burlesque (Independent)
2012 - Women in Blues Manitoba #2 (Independent) Live recording of Women in Blues concert #6 October 2010: Hillbilly Burlesque




No. 5 on the Blues Underground Network’s TOP 10 CANADIAN BLUES ALBUM list for 2012

Tied with the Ben Racine Band for BEST DEBUT ALBUM (Band) (Canada) 2012 - Blues Underground Network

2012 INDIE MUSIC CHANNEL AWARD WINNERS for BEST BLUES RECORDING and judges' nominees for RECORDING OF THE YEAR for their debut release "Crazy Life" (2011), Hillbilly Burlesque continue their ascent to the top of the country roots and blues music pyramid.

The band was also honoured with IMC nominations for BEST FEMALE BLUES ARTIST (Angel Calnek), BEST BLUES BAND, and BEST BLUES SONG (Crazy Life written by Angel Calnek)!

On the cusp of the popularity of "Crazy Life", September 2012 sees the band back in the studio working on the follow up album with engineer of note, Ron Obvious (Little Mountain Studios, The Warehouse) at the controls. The new CD will feature new originals, a few "Billy-ized" covers, special guest performers and will be released in early 2013.

Since 2001 Hillbilly Burlesque's eclectic mix of veteran performers from the Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada area cultivated their alternative country-blues style and established a dedicated following in the local, national and international music scene.

Sultry and gritty lead vocals by Angel Calnek, boiling slide guitar by Slide Boy Sandmoen and wailing blues harmonica by Kansas City Cramer are held down by the funky rhythm section of Julene Gravett and John Neal, creating the band's trademark raunchy, down-home feel.

Life partners Calnek and Sandmoen craft quirky, country and gospel blues flavoured originals and renovate covers of twentieth century roots and blues performers from Memphis Minnie to Willie Dixon to Ry Cooder.

"Crazy Life" a ten year retrospective CD released March 26, 2011 is a celebration of the Billies' first decade of song renovation and writing. It features recordings going back to their very first performance together at Private Ear Recording Studio in Winnipeg (engineered and mixed by Lloyd Peterson) in February 2001 where they recorded a six song demo. It is the title track from this album, "Crazy Life" written by lead singer Angel Calnek, that won them the BEST BLUES RECORDING at the 2012 IMC Awards.

The Hillbilly Burlesque duo of Calnek and Sandmoen promoted "Crazy Life" with a five month Gypsy Tour across North Western Ontario in 2011 that included house concerts and a two week songwriting artist in residency at Quetico Park, Ontario, Canada.

The newly released "Women in Blues CD #2" (Women in Blues Manitoba Inc. April 2012) features live tracks by the Billies along with blues gals Kathy Kennedy and Her Blues Band (Winnipeg) and award winning Tracy K and the Right Hand Band (Thunder Bay). Recorded and mixed by Winnipeg producer Lloyd Peterson (Hillbilly's tracks mixed by Darrell Sandmoen), the CD features a genre-bending mix of live tracks from the Women in Blues Manitoba concert #6 held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (www.womeninblues.ca)

In 2009, Hillbilly Burlesque was also featured on the Women in Blues Manitoba CD #1, a compilation of live tracks including Shelley Lynne and the Majestics and Kathy Kennedy's Blues Earth. This CD was sponsored by Dan Aykroyd and is a permanent fixture in the Manitoba Music Museum.

The band was also one of the artists on Transistor 66's 2006 Guess Who's Home compilation CD of local bands covering Guess Who songs.