Matt Masters
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Matt Masters

Calgary, Alberta, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 1999 | SELF | AFM

Calgary, Alberta, Canada | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 1999
Band Americana Folk


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



"Matt Masters braves storm to play Lethbridge"

Matt Masters braves storm to play Lethbridge
Wednesday, 02 February 2011 11:53
By: Richard Amery

I had high hopes for covering a couple different Saturday gigs, Jan. 29 but was stymied, like I’m sure numerous others were, by our lovely weekend snowstorm. However I did not want to miss the return of Calgary based country singer/ songwriter Matt Masters at Cudos Lounge, who I last saw at Henotic opening for Romi Mayes. After all, he braved a blizzard to drive out here to play all of 15 people including the bartenders. So I wanted to get my fix of his own unique take on country and western music.

Matt Masters was at his folksy best, playing an outstanding set of originals as well as lots of classic country covers about “dead cowboys.” He joked about being flown out to Vancouver the day before to play a specially commissioned song for a paint company and speaking about how difficult it was to be creative writing a song about paint. I don’t think he ended up performing the paint song at Cudos, but his originals were excellent as well as a classic covers like Johnny Cash’s ‘I’ve been Everywhere,” which was performed at lightning auctioneer speed and included lots od Albertan locations.
What impressed me was his cover of a newer Ray Wylie Hubbard song, ‘Snake Farm.’

It’s great to see someone covering a Ray Wylie Hubbard song other than ’Redneck Mother,’ as cool as that is. He ended his set with an excellent version of Hank Williams’ Jr.’s ’Family Tradition’ which had the audience singing along. - The L.A. Beat - Lethbridge Alberta Beat

"Gigs gone wild, Globe & Mail, Mar 2008"

Matt Masters and others have vowed to play 30 shows in 30 days as part of Calgary’s lead-in to the Junos, Marsha Lederman

Matt Masters and the Gentlemen of the Rodeo may be the only band in Calgary’s history to have the distinction of playing a show at the Alberta Children’s Hospital on the same day they play a gig at Tubby
Dog. That’s the plan anyway: Hit the hospital, then the hot dog joint tomorrow – Day 27 in the Matt Masters 30 Day Challenge.
Masters has vowed to play 30 shows this month as part of the “Music Lives Here” lead-up to the Juno Awards being presented April 6 in Calgary. When all is said and done, Masters figures he’ll probably have played 32 shows.
“It’s just been steamrolling,” he said last week. Show No. 1 was booked “within one minute” of posting his challenge on Facebook, and it has gone from there. There have been gigs at bars, schools, staff parties, even a hobby shop. This Friday, the country band will play a show at the Calgary Women’s Shelter. The venues Gigs –and audiences – are all over
the map.
“We can have a lineup where we play to senior citizens one day, elementary school kids the next day and punk rock kids in a club the third day, and we play the same set, the same way, and it goes over fine each place,” says Masters, 32. “It confuses the hell out of us, but we love it.”
Masters has done the musical marathon thing before. In 2005, he played 100 shows in 120 days all over Alberta to mark the province’s 100th anniversary.
This time around, the goal was 30 shows in a 31-day month. Why not 31 shows? Masters had been hoping to take his birthday off (he didn’t; it was Sunday and he played A Bar Named Sue), but beyond that, he simply thinks it sounds better. “I mean, you hear the phrase ‘30-day challenge;’ it rolls off the tongue better than ‘31-day challenge.’ ” How well the campaign rolls off the tongue is at the heart of the challenge, which is tied very much into the Calgary Host Committee’s objective to get the word out about the city’s musical offerings. The committee is paying Masters, so there’s no cost to individual presenters or venues. Terry Rock, co-chair of the Calgary Host Committee for the 2008 Juno Awards and president and chief executive officer of Calgary Arts Development, says he expects that 75,000 to 100,000 people “are going to have a live music experience under the Music
Lives Here umbrella. “That’s our goal. We think it’s achievable.”There’s no question that Masters’s initiative has helped boost the numbers. Other bands have launched 30-day challenges of their own (but unlike Masters, they have to negotiate payment from the venues themselves), including Random Task Collective – whose five core members are all 14 years old. Lead singer Connor Harvey says it was too good an opportunity to pass up, even if it has meant juggling his Grade 8 homework with what will wind up being more than 30 gigs this month.
“I really want to devote mylife to making music, so the 30-day challenge is kind of a really good kick-start to that,” Harvey said on spring break last week. “It’s been great.” It’s been a busy month for all the bands involved, but there’s a payoff. Masters has become a publicity-generating machine, with regular spots on radio and in print, and the coverage is creating a lot of buzz for his group. “We’re not a famous band or anything like that. We’re an independent, unsigned, country band from Calgary,” he says. “We were really lucky to get media interest in this … so we feel like it’s been a real success.”
It has also worked out for Random Task Collective, which has already scheduled a number of shows for April, after the challenge is over.
If the publicity has been good for individual bands, it has, Masters hopes, also helped to create a reputation for Calgary as a music town. “It starts to make me think, hey, we really have something going on here. It’s not like we’re the world’s cultural capital, but we’re not just cowboy hats and oil executives, either.”"

- Globe and Mail - March 26th 2008

"Don Coyote Review, Calgary Herald June 2008"

Best Bet in Stampede Theatre
Don Coyote - Matt Masters and Terrance Houle, two iconoclastic Calgary artists, have teamed up to create Don Coyote, a western musical cabaret inspired by the Don Quixote story, only transposed to Calgary. Think Cabaret meets Lonesome Dove meets Mayor Dave Bronconnier, with a dash of Stampede lore thrown in. Or better yet, just have a few pops, don't think at all, and go see the show. - Calgary Herald, June 10, 2008

"Don Coyote Review, Avenue Magazine June 2008"

Matt Masters and Terrance Houle create a Calgary epic in Don Coyote
By Anthony Charron
Photo by Jeffry Craig
A delusion Western obsessed shut-in hits the streets of Calgary's Beltline to uphold the "Cowboy Code" dressed in a poncho styled from a hunk of carpet with water pistols as armament.
This is the story of Don Coyote, playing June 25 to 28 as part of Sled Island and the duration of Stampede (July 4 to 12) at the Conoco Phillips Theatre in the Glenbow Museum.
Penned by local country and western singer Matt Masters, Don Coyote also features visuals by nationally renowned aboriginal multi-media artist Terrance Houle.
While ostensibly a Cervantes inspired tale about madness and the importance of honour, it also touches on contemporary Calgary issues including crime, racism, and modern reliance on technology. With events centred around the Stampede, it is a tale that could only be told with Calgary as the setting. Using photographs from the Glenbow archives that show Stampedes and the Calgary of yester year in the visual projections adds a historical touch that contrast wild, rollicking scenes of bank managers mistaken for outlaws and the difficult choices one must make between doing what is easy, and doing what is right.
Masters weaves the well-written and well-delivered story in amongst a number of country songs backed by a full band, while Houle adds intersesting bits of film and takes on the role of Coyote's sidekick.
Fans of spaghetti westerns will enjoy the reverb soaked guitar strains, fiddle and pedal steel licks of the band and the numerous references to seminal western films.
Directed by well-know Calgary theatre personality Vanessa Porteous, Don Coyote is a tongue-in-cheek, but still meaningful, look at the city we live in, and what we can all do to make it better.
With tickets priced at a very affordable $7 it is a new, original and entertaining work worth seeing. - Avenue Magazine - Calgary

"Stampede Pancake Party"

Qatar - UC-Q hosted a traditional Calgary Stampede Pancake Breakfast event yesterday at its Al Rayyan Campus, featuring Wild-West themed music, entertainment and fun. (photo of Matt Masters and the Gentlemen of the Rodeo) - Gulf Times, Doha Qatar

"Matt Masters Brings Alberta to the Germans"

Wanna know a weird fact about Germans?

They're enthralled with country and western culture. Have been for decades.

It's true! Look it up. Germans love themselves a cowboy.

That's why Calgary's self-styled country and western troubadour Matt Masters is sure to make a splash this week as he tours through Germany with his bandmates, His Gentlemen of the Rodeo, as they're fondly known. After his German adventure, Masters will fly to the Middle East for a gig in Doha, the capital city of Qatar.

A dedicated chronicler of Alberta's western heritage, Masters is certainly doing his part to spread it around the world. This includes a Feb. 21 gig he'll be playing here in Calgary in celebration of Vancouver's 2010 Olympics.

After that, Masters is branching off into the world of film. He'll be working as a musical supervisor for the upcoming release Western Confidential, directed by FUBAR star Paul Spence. Apparently, Masters will also lend his acting talents to that movie.

Lazy the lad is not. - Calgary Herald

"FFWD cover story Nov 2006"

Friday, November 17 Broken City
Let’s get one thing straight. Matt Masters is no cowboy. True, he’s been called many things — a honky-tonk troubadour, a country traditionalist and a self-professed western gentleman, but as the sun sets on the eve of the release of his latest offering, Centennial Swell, it’s obvious the answer is in the music. Filled with old-country soul, the music on Centennial Swell speaks of Masters’ penchant for the personal, the profane and the downright naughty — all presented in a deep baritone voice hearkening back to nights spent huddled around a fire, drinking whisky out of aluminum cups and sleeping under a romantic canopy of stars. Truth be told, more often than not, you’ll encounter Masters ready with a bottle of whisky craftily hidden somewhere on his person, on tour, sleeping in the back of his van rather than under the stars. Though Masters may come across more as a gentleman cowboy raised on the wild Alberta range, his media savvy and boyish charisma belie his true upbringing as an urban-dwelling, white-bread fed scenester. Still, you won’t catch Masters trying to be something he’s not. He’s too busy having fun being himself. “Well, you’re not going to hear any songs about riding horses on the album. OK, maybe there’s one,” laughs Masters. “But I’m a city guy. I don’t know how to ride. I don’t know anything about ranching or raising cattle, but I do have a song about drinking whisky.” Whisky drinking, “pumpkin” hunting, cheating, and maybe a few stories about being hard on luck and down-and-out make up the majority of Centennial Swell’s lyric itinerary. Though much of the material was recorded more than a year ago, Masters is still excited to finally see its release. By the time Masters decided to lay down the tracks for the album, he was already a seasoned performer with more than six years of gigging under his belt. In particular, a run of just over 100 shows to his credit with his summer Alberta Centennial Tour — a project that not only got Masters tons of press, but took him to all four corners of the province and beyond. “I’ve never tried to be in a hurry with my career,” admits Masters. “I’ve been playing shows since 1999, but this is my first record. I’m not in a rush. Just because you can release a record doesn’t mean you should release a record. And I gotta say, honestly, this record is awesome. The playing on it is awesome. My songwriting is steady. I perform well on it. The production is top-quality, too. It’s just an all around awesome record.” Masters admits part of the trick was finding the right musicians to back him. Drawing from a rich Toronto scene including such luminaries as Canadian Country Music Association’s seven-time award winner Wendell Ferguson, drummer Al Cross of Big Sugar and multi-instrumentalist Chris Whiteley, Masters amassed a team of musicians and a producer he trusted, Alec Fraser, to record what he calls “a kind of Matt Masters Greatest Hits package.” “I waited until I had a band that was really world-class and a production team that was world class,” says Masters. “I had to have a reason to release a record with national distribution, but I also wanted to make sure I had enough money in place to do it. Now, I have a large enough profile across the country that I can fill a room in Toronto, Winnipeg or Vancouver. I thought, why not? It’s time to release a record.” Did things just fall into place? Mostly, according to Masters, and then it’s also about getting what you want just by putting yourself out there. “The saying I like to use is ‘chance favours the prepared mind’ and so yes, there’s lots of happenstance, coincidence and surprises along the path,” admits Masters. “But in the same breath, I’ve been preparing myself to do this for a long time.” Masters says playing music that he truly believes in (regardless of his upbringing) is what draws the right people to him. Admittedly, you don’t have to be a card-carrying cowboy to appreciate Masters’ traditional brand of country. The recent “man-in-black” frenzy proves that. It’s more about sincerity, something Masters oozes when talking about his music. “There’s a degree of honesty in my music that I think attracts certain people,” says Masters. “It’s like if you’re a friendly guy, there’s no reason you can’t meet anyone in the world. You are who you are and where you are because of your friends. “The kind of person that you are attracts certain people. The people that I met the first weekend I was in Toronto led to meeting more people. It’s all a web. I think it comes down to the fact that I don’t play songs unless I really believe in them. The musicians that I meet I think pick up on that.” It was his time spent in Toronto, being led around by friend and fellow musician Terra Hazelton, that spawned the collaborations featured on Centennial Swell; a roster of musicians that pushed Masters’ sound into a maturity only hinted at in his 1999 bedroom recorded release Alberta Reporter. “The guitar player Wendell Ferguson was someone I met the first week I moved to Toronto in 2002,” remembers Masters. “Tara was already playing in Jazz Healey’s Jazz Wizards when I moved and she just kind of put a leash around my neck and led me around town introducing me to people. She’d say ‘here’s Jeff Healey,’ ‘here’s Brian Connelly of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet.’ “It was crazy. I think it was the second night I was out with Tara and we went to this place called Grossmans Tavern, which is a famous blues bar on Spadina and there was this woman there called Joanne Mackell with Brian Connelly. Laura Hubert of the Leslie Spit Treeo was singing on stage and they were just all hanging out. That was the scene and it was through Joanne that I met Wendell. It just kind of built from there.” It’s apparent that Masters knows how to work it. Maybe it was growing up the son of a politician (Masters admits they’re just like everyone else). Maybe it’s his ability to befriend anyone and everyone that crosses his path. Maybe it’s just the way he rocks an eight dollar vintage suit. Whatever it is, Masters is poised to take the music industry by storm with the necessary tools of the trade firmly tucked in his vest pocket. “Everyone thinks networking is a dirty word, but I don’t think it is,” insists Masters. “I mean, who we are is based on human relationships. I don’t understand it when people talk down about schmoozing or networking. I mean, we’re all doing it everyday. When some indie rocker turns to his friend in a bar and slams networking, he’s still networking. He just doesn’t know it.” Whatever he’s doing, it’s working. Not many Alberta musicians can count the Mayor of Calgary, Premier of Alberta and Prime Minister of Canada (“The Harpster,” as Masters likes to call him) as fans. Must be the whisky. Matt Masters will be celebrating the release of Centennial Swell at Broken City Friday, November 17 performing with Gentlemen of the Rodeo guitarist Greg Cockerill, drummer Jeff Sulima and bassist Rob Oxoby.
- FFWD Weekly

"Matt Masters takes stage tonight at Trailside"

Friday August 25, 2006
Matt Masters will perform at the Trailside Cafe in Mount Stewart today, 8-10pm.

Masters is a western Canadian singer songwriterwitha penchant for history and a big deep voice that often draws comparisons to the man in black. Masters has performed at a number of major fesitvals including the Dauphin Countryfest.

A natural storyteller and an engaging performer, Masters writes mostly about true life experiences and is inspired by his prairie setting. As seating is limited reservations are recommended.

- the Guardian, Charlottetown PEI

"New dogs, old tricks"

July/August 2006

...The 30-year-old Masters, a Calgary native found country via rock and roll. He began hangin at the now-defunct institution of Calgary indie-rock Rock Central as soon as he was able and this past March he hosted a Much Music special "MuchDoesCalgary" featuring up and coming city bands. Despite his rock pedigree, Masters, whose given name is Matt Burgener, found that when he started writing songs "they all sounded like country songs" and so he decided "that's what I do, I make country music."

On his latest album Centennial Swell his baritone voice tells tales of last year's flooding in Southern Alberta on the title track, the hardships of working the land ("Poor Poor Farmer") and, like and good country album should, a drinking song ("Whiskey Business").

Masters said that earning a history degree from the University of Calgary had a big impact on his style. "There's where I really started learning about, I guess you could say old-time Alberta music," said Masters. After graduation, he continued to learn, combining used record stores and the Glenbow Museum archives and following a simple strategy for unearthing the past. "If you meet someone older than you, and they are into music, ask them what they like."

Masters is a walking encyclopedia on Alberta's music history, full of knowledge on names like Wilf Carter, "by the mid-30's Wilf Carter was a star and he was operating out of Calgary," Scotty Stevenson "talks to the realities of life as a rigger," and Stu Davis "the biggest star in the '50s but you can't find a record of him to save your life."

He feels it is important to preserve the contributions these musicians have made. "I don't think we've always had the best profile of our arts and culture scene on a national level. Alberta is known for business, known for oil, but not for its arts and culture. Alberta has had arts and culture since day one."

While he performs mostly his own material, he also re-introduces these songs to his crowds. "If you find a 50-year-old or a 100-year-old song you know they are catchy because songs don't survive if they aren't catchy."

Last summer Masters embarked on a musical mission to share his extensive knowledge and celebrate Alberta's 100th birthday. On the "Centennial Tour," Masters performed songs from each decade at 100 performances around the country, logging roughly 30,000 kilometers playing schools, senior citizens homes (a great place to discover new musical mysteries and songs), bars and clubs, rodeos, farmers markets and cowboy poetry gatherings. Masters first downplays the feat. "A lot of musicians played that many shows that summer...if i hadn't framed it that way it would be 'working musician still working.'" But then he adds, "it's something I'll always look back and feel proud about."

- Avenue Magazine - Calgary

"This Cowboy Doesn't Get the Blues"

March 2006

After completing his Centennial Tour last year, Matt Masters is back in Calgary with a new CD and a music book in the works. Although things haven't always gone according to his master plan, the country western singer isn't complaining, finding the good in everything is just what he does. - Ego Calgary Magazine

"Alberta Found"

September 3rd 2005
by David Ebner

Six months, 100 gigs and a lot of pig roasts. Matt Masters got up close and personal with his Albertan brethren and learned a thing or two about his home province,

The gig list — a winding scroll of 100 shows throughout Alberta to celebrate the province’s centennial — is odd: Seniors homes, a casino, a cowboy poetry gathering, several schools and a friend’s wedding. Also, several times, Broken City, a downtown Calgary indie music bar. There was a fishing derby along the way, too. This unlikeliest selection of venues forms just a short part of an epic six-month adventure, one that has seen country troubadour Matt Masters cover roughly 25,000 kilometres. It ended Thursday, on Alberta’s 100th birthday, as Masters and his band, the Gentlemen of the Rodeo, played gig No. 100 under the Calgary Tower as part of the Brilliant City festival. History permeates the project. Masters — a “Western gentlemen” according to his calling card — is fascinated with history and did something of an epic undergraduate degree in the subject, taking an extended nine years at the University of Calgary. Over a drink in The Oak Room of the 91-year-old sandstone Palliser Hotel in Calgary this week, Masters passionately bounded through tales of Alberta’s musical history, having particular fun relating the tale of a Parisian fiddle-maker who relocated to the distant outpost in the late 1800s. “It was all about the fiddle in the early days,” Masters said, having unearthed the info in a university course on that era’s architecture. “Accordions, too, harmonicas. They were the most popular instruments, the most portable. But people brought in pianos, too, lugged them out on covered wagons.” His gigs are a history lesson of Alberta in song and next year he plans to chronicle the province’s musical past in a book of 100 song sheets, 10 per decade, along with two CDs. He hopes to publish the effort with the University of Calgary Press, seeing his plan very much as an academic history project to catalogue a subject that hasn’t received attention before. One CD will feature Masters singing songs, but it is the other CD that Masters is more excited about, a disc that is to feature music that was never written down, particularly aboriginal work. “It’s a huge part of Western Canadian music,” he said. “Alberta’s not just white dudes singing in English, though that’s the way we’re often perceived.” At gig No. 96 last Monday at Broken City, where the tour began in February, Masters and the Gentlemen of the Rodeo opened their set with what Masters announced as “an old pioneer song” called Little Old Sod Shanty on my Claim. It’s based on an old Irish sea shanty that was reworked countless times in North America. Another version of the song, Masters added as a footnote, was the first commercial country track ever recorded, put down by Fiddlin’ John Carson in 1923. The sets included other Alberta standards, such as Oilman’s Lament from the sixties, that complement Masters own work — Whisky Businessis a standout — and covers such classics as Gordon Lightfoot’s Alberta Bound. As Masters toured Alberta, he discovered the province’s future looks much like its past — boomtowns built on oil. He was in the oil sands capital Fort McMurray in the far northeast of the province last week, where growth is off the hook. An average single-family home in July cost more than $450,000 — just one example of economic madness in the throbbing heart of the current oil boom in Alberta. Masters played a seniors home and a casino, the aptly named Boomtown Casino. “There were about six people watching and 300 people gambling,” he said. “They were preoccupied. It’s a tough town.” It reminded him of reading the history of Calgary’s early days, when a population of 4,000 in the late 1800s exploded to more than 40,000 by the mid-1910s when oil and natural gas had been discovered. “That’s inconceivable growth,” Masters said. “It’s the Alberta story. It’s Fort McMurray’s story.” While Masters grew up in Alberta, he is a city boy, rarely straying beyond Calgary and most recently spent several years in Toronto. Last October, he quit his job as general manager of the Toronto Blues Society to make his living in music, quickly taking on the quest of a 100gig tour on the Boxing Day suggestion of Jane McCullough. She is program director at CJSW, the U of C radio station, which underpinned a grant application with the federal government, from which Masters recently secured $15,000. Tramping through rural Alberta, which by stereotype is populated only by gun-toting rednecks, was a lot more fun than Masters expected. “I was nervous about it, admittedly, I didn’t know what to expect. People might say, ‘You’re from Calgary? Sorry about that.’ Then they’d invite me in for dinner. I think you can find the same friendliness everywhere.” Getting gigs just meant calling on folks to see if they needed someone. “I’d call up a pig roast and ask if they needed 40 minutes of country and western. They’d say: ‘Of course, that’s exactly what we’re waiting for.’ That’s what they’d usually say. There’s been four or five pig roasts. We roast a lot of pork in this province. It’s not just red meat.” At Broken City on Monday, with about 150 young Calgary hipsters in attendance, he remembered the beginnings of the 100-show odyssey. Dressed nattily in a newly acquired $8 vintage grey suit, with a cowboy hat and black cowboy boots, Masters recalled announcing to his first audience in February: “‘World, I’m going to play 100 shows in Alberta.’ The room wasn’t so crowded and not many people noticed.” The 29-year-old is getting noticed now, handling a dozen or so local interviews in recent weeks as the centennial tour reaches its crescendo. Masters — born Burgener — has recorded three independent albums and is planning at least one if not two more this fall. Of all the adventures on the road, it was the 18th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Pincher Creek that has stuck with Masters the most. The small town in south western Alberta is nestled up against the Rocky Mountains and in mid-June had just been pounded by rain and flooding. “I haven’t found a distinct Alberta musical style but there’s a distinct storytelling, it’s the prominent feature,” Masters said. “And that’s best represented by the cowboy poets. They’re funny and sometimes get dirty — in a classy way. I fell right in with those guys.” Late night, the cowboy poets would be around a campfire and Masters sidled up his first evening there. One cowboy demanded the young poet play a tune, so Masters plucked his acoustic guitar and the reception was positive. The cowboy, he said, concluded: “That’s all right, kid.”

- Globe and Mail - Canada wide

"Thursday: Brilliant City"

August 26 - September 1st 2005

In a city that arbitririly claims the monkier of Cowtown, Matt Masters is what the city claims to be: an urban entity with an old country soul in teh vein of Johhny Horton. You can catch Masters twice this week: once for his wrap party on Monday at Broken City for the 100th - and final - stop of his centennial tour (he checked in wiith Swerve at gig 50); then, put on your boots and scoot downtown for Brilliant City!, where Masters helps kick off Calgary's party for the province's 100th birthday. - Swerve Magazine - Calgary

"Matt Masters and the Gentlemen of the Rodeo"

June 2005

After establishing himself as a local country legend in Calgary, he has become a key member of the Toronto alt-country scene while also touring nationally. His big deep voice has elicited Johnny Cash comparisons, while his clear passion for Canada recalls that of Stompin' Tom. - NXNE program guide


2014 - (Upcoming) The Siouxpranos with Matt Masters EP

Matt Masters Albums

2011 - All-Western Winners - Saved by Vinyl
2008 - Don Coyote - Independent
2006 - Centennial Swell - Dollartone Records
2004 - 100 years from then compilation - Hijinx & Capers
2003 - Calgary Does Conners compilation - Saved by Radio
2003 - The Alberta Reporter - Moustache Wax



Matt Masters is a Calgary based folk and country singer who has performed over 1000 shows across North America, Europe and the Middle East. In true Western Canadian fashion, he has variously performed while on horseback, while standing on a large sheet of ice and occasionally in theatres and clubs. His songs are mostly about Alberta. 

For more information
Contact: Matt Burgener 403-808-7891
or visit

Band Members