the Bownesians
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the Bownesians

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Band Pop Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"The Bownesiand at the Calgary Folk Club"

The Calgary Folk Club is like a grande dame dowager with a closet full of classics, a tried and true sense of style, but a yen for the trendy. Darling, what is a girl to do? Accessorize, accessorize.

Friday night the CFC did just that. The opening set featured two guests, the Bownesians and Cort Delano, both finalists in the Calgary Folk Festival Songwriting Competition for the “Best Song For Alberta” category. Not only up-and-coming and trendy, these acts have folk cred as well.

The Bownesians (from Bowness, of course) are a six-member band who won the 2009 Best Song of Alberta for “How Allen Saved the Radio Station.” More than one CFC patron I spoke to commented on how rare and wonderful it was to hear songs that celebrated Calgary like the songs of the Bownesians did. Lyrics like “He’s from Bowness, she’s from Montgomery” had the audience giggling and possibly contemplating their city in an entirely new way.

The musicianship of this group lived up to their lyrics. Smiling Doug Waite’s voice lit up songs while Leah McCartney’s jazz-tinged vocals and nonchalant sway brought just a hint of illicit backroom hootch dive to the staid CFC. The bass, keyboards, drum kit, and percussion were notable for their infectious energy. It was needed in a set that effortlessly jumped from rockabilly, to surf, and even to a gorgeous cover of a bossa nova standard. The Bownesians are a class act that, hopefully, will become a classic in the CFC’s closet. -

"The Bownesians cookin' up a musical stew your grandma would enjoy"

Sometimes, just to stay sane, you have to be true to where you came from.

In the case of Calgary surf-rock troubadours the Bownesians, that sentiment rings loud and true. Their name pays tribute to the local community of Bowness, where four of the six members reside. The community has been more than a simple nesting area for the band, however.

"Bowness is one of those bohemian, down-to-earth little communities with a lot of soul," exudes Bownesians vocalist Leah McCartney. "It's only natural that a lot of art and music would come out of a place like that. Our name is an homage to that place."

Being from a community that's also known for its family-friendly atmosphere, the Bownesians started out as a fun hobby between neighbours.

"Brad (Kostvnuik, drummer), Mike (Cormier, percussion) and Doug (Waite, vocals/guitar) have been jamming in Doug's kitchen for years," says McCartney, "and then the rest of us sort of joined the party, one by one.

"Bowness is (a place) where a lot of people have chosen to raise their families, and so the guys started out playing backyard barbeques, parties at the old Scout Hall and what not, in between raising their own kids and being involved in other artistic endeavors like theatre and other bands."

McCartney then remembers her first show with the band three years ago, which naturally has to do with the notable community: "My first show with the band was the Bowness Stampede Parade. Doug asked me if I wanted to play a show with them on the roof of Angel's Drive-In and I was like, 'hell yes I would.'"

After debuting the various incarnations of the band on home turf, it only seems appropriate that the Bownesians stay local to celebrate their newest milestone: a debut full-length album.

Although they recorded the self-titled record at Audities Studio in Bearspaw (which McCartney calls "Disneyland for audiophiles" and "a fantastic and humbling experience"), the band will be celebrating its release this month with a barbeque picnic in Bowness' own Baker Park. While the cookout will certainly stay true to the Bownesians' roots, McCartney doesn't forget the reason for the celebration.

"Now that (the album) is done and ready to be released, I think we're all like a bunch of little kids at Christmastime," McCartney enthuses. "When you record, you have to really work out every rough little bit, so it's laborious but so worth it when you hear that final arrangement and you've finally gotten it where you want it to be. Between Doug Waite and (producer) David Keene are some of the best ears going though, so we were in good hands.

"And it was non-stop hilarity. We laughed our arses off for fifteen hours at a stretch, in between getting to use these incredible microphones and Hammond B-3 organs."

With this latest release, the Bownesians just might start infiltrating the ears of Calgarians from Airdrie to Okotoks. The band's sound touches on everything from Bill Haley to Ann Margaret, with just the right dose of rockabilly twang to get your boots tapping. Although she joined the group relatively late, McCartney seems to have already found her footing within this diverse ensemble.

"My influences range from Anne Margaret to Wanda Jackson, with a heavy bent towards the rockabilly side of country music," says McCartney. "I like girls who can really belt out a sad song, and possibly kick your ass later too, if they wanted to. I think our sound is fairly eclectic, and my contribution is bringing a little bratty girl to the boys club. And now we have Rosemary Stewart on keyboards (who joined last fall), so we bad girls are slowly infiltrating the band."

For now though, the Bownesians are looking forward to the future. The band plans to venture out of their northwest nook for the Mountainview Festival in Carstairs, and a slot in the Calgary Folk Festival, which was awarded to them when they recently won the Best Song of Alberta contest.

Before all that, though, will come the CD release barbeque, which prompts McCartney to open up about the Bownesian's storied cookout history:

"Between the six of us in the Bownesians, we have thirteen kids, so one of my favourite summer cookout kind of memories was one of the city pool parties we played a few summers ago. In the middle of one of our songs, I looked up and nearly everyone's kids were rocking really hard in this dance contest we were having. I realized they were all like, dancing experts...little girls between the ages of five and ten were doing the mashed potato and the hand-jive. We bring our own party to every family gig we play, for sure."

And what will guests expect McCartney to be enjoying, besides the dancing moves of some of their youngest fans?

"A hot dog with relish and a cold Pilsner in a bottle, and I'm a happy camper."

The Bownesians Picnic takes place on July 19, with music kicking off at 1 p.m. Besides the Bownesians, the line-up features the Smokin' 45s, the Rembetika Hipsters, Gypsy Grass, Rodney Brent, and Chantal Vitalis - "all friends of ours with connections to the community," says McCartney. - Beatroute Magazine

"We proudly bring you... The Bownesians!!"

Jul 17, 2009
Permalink 06:05 am, Kelly Doody / Best of Calgary, Music to my Ears, 504 words
We proudly bring you... The Bownesians!!
Listen to the music of a local band called The Bownesians, and you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll learn a little bit about Bowness.

Not two minutes had gone by after my meeting George, Brad, Mike, Rosemary, Leah and Doug before we were cracking a can of Alberta Genuine Draft and sitting on tree stump stools around a backyard fire pit just off the mighty Bow River.

Talented, hilarious and humble, the refreshing Bowness-based band of four men and two ladies had me over to discuss a few things. Namely the bash they're throwing this weekend in and around the band shell at Baker Park in – you guessed it – Bowness.

That they were dressed just like the brand new CD cover from their recently-released first official album – right down to the stripes in their t-shirts and the ketchup bottles and hot dogs in their hands – spoke even more to the casual coolness they have goin' on.

Nope, no local-band-about-to-make-it-big pretension here. Just an honest story about a few fun-loving, banjo-playing folks who discovered they all lived within a six-block radius in a neighbourhood they're thrilled to call their own.

Self-described as a little bit surf-pop and a little bit B-movie rockabilly, The Bownesians came to fruition after watching the Bowness Parade back in '99 and realizing there was not a chord of music to be heard up and down the block.

But unlike every other group of pals who wax poetically about starting a band while a watching parade, this group of guys and gals actually did it.

And while they're quick to point out the Mount Pleasant Outdoor Pool Party, Bow Cycle's Tour de Bowness and Bowness Garbage Day gigs they've played in the past, any local music lover knows the truth: The Bownesians are capturing the hearts of Calgarians, booking grander stages and turning bigger heads with every season that goes by.

Winners of the Calgary Folk Music Festival's 'Best Song in Alberta' songwriting award in both 2008 and 2009, first for the 1970's CJSW-inspired ballad 'How Allen Saved the Radio Station,' followed by 'He's from Bowness, She's from Montgomery' – a song you'll push repeat on all night long, they've also played Calgary's highly-acclaimed Sled Island Music Festival and will hit the illustrious Ship and Anchor Stage in front of thousands at the Folk Fest next weekend.

And don't think for a second Sunday's Shaker in Baker Park is just a CD release picnic for the band of Bownesians.

It's a party featuring frankfurters, lawn chairs and live music from 1 p.m. till way past 5 starring Gypsy Grass, The Smokin’ 45's, The Rembetica Hipsters, Rodney Guitarsplat, Natasha Platt and Chantal Vitalis, too.

It's been said that The Bownesians are taking community pride to a whole new level.
If you don't have any of your own, you know where to find some this weekend. See you in Bowness.

- The Calgary Sun


"The Bownesians" 2009

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The Bownesians are those neighbours of yours who are always having those loud parties on Saturday nights. Backyard barbeque style shakers that you have to call the cops on because the bonfire is too big and the jam is still going on at four in the morning.

Resurrecting the spirit of movies like "Beat Girl," "Endless Summer" and "Trek to Makaha", screamin' down the street in a 1954 Mercury Woody blasting Bill Haley, Ann Margaret, Anne Magnussen, Santo & Johnny, Janis Martin and The Shakin' Pyramids on the car stereo.

Two time winners of the Calgary Folk Festival Songwriting competition (2008 - 2009) (best song of Alberta category for "He's from Bowness, She's From Montgomery" & "How Alan Saved the Radio Station") A workshop band stealing members from Cowpuncher, the Ramblin' Ambassadors, the Fabulous Stingrays, Rembetika Hipsters, Sweet Cop Sour Cop and the Sacred Heart of Elvis, we're the band you want to play your car rally or your shotgun wedding.