Eric’s Picks: Read this before you go out this weekend

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Pictured is Rain Dog Bar in Inglewood on Thursday, June 25, 2020. Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia Photo by Azin Ghaffari /Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Where to hear a great playlist: The Rain Dog Bar, Inglewood

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I will let people more knowledgeable about such things advise readers on where to eat and drink, but I’ve never had a bad experience at The Rain Dog Bar in Inglewood. Named after one of my favourite Tom Waits’ albums, the spot is known for its tantalizingly large and diverse selection of beer selected by staff and, more specifically, owner Bill Bonar. As Elizabeth Chorney-Booth reported in her 2020 feature on the Rain Dog, Bonar is Alberta’s first certified Cicerone, which is the beer world equivalent of a wine sommelier. So . . . please don’t order a Kokanee. But equally appealing to me is Bonar’s meticulously curated playlists. He is seemingly just as picky about his music as he is his beer, which is a good thing for those of us who are quickly bored with the majority of piped-in pub music. He has put together hours of playlists and does not allow any other music to be played. On a recent visit, I heard Nick Cave and the Bad Seed’s Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, the 2011 R.E.M. deep cut Oh My Heart and Feist and Ben Gibbard’s beautiful cover of Vashti Bunyan’s 1966 gem Train Song. So come for the food, stay for the beer and tunes. Or maybe come for tunes, stay for the beer and food. It’s a good place to keep in mind during Stampede, when all bars limit their playlists to terrible country music.

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Alejandro Escovedo
Singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo. Photo by Nancy Rankin Escovedo. cal

What to see: A Lean Slice of Nighttime, March 23 at the Big Secret Theatre at Arts Commons

One Yellow Rabbit seems to be doing a great job of keeping this concert by American songwriter Alejandro Escovedo a secret, but it seems the perfect setting for an intimate evening with the Texas-based genius. Escovedo is a songwriter’s songwriter who has amassed a consistently strong canon of work over the past 30 years as a solo artist and before that in acts such as True Believers and Rank and File. He is also a great friend of Calgary, having played here last January as part of the High Performance Rodeo, while putting in memorable appearances over the years at the Calgary Folk Music Festival and the fest’s Block Heater. His cover of Mott the Hoople’s I Wish I Was Your Mother in 2016 at the Lantern Church as part of the first Block Heater remains one of my fondest musical memories in this city.

Cara Luft
Cara Luft SunMediaArchive

What to see 2: Cara Luft, Neil Osborne. March 23 at the Grand Theatre 

A member of folk duo The Small Glories and past member of folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys, singer-songwriter Cara Luft has been a mainstay of Winnipeg’s crowded music scene. To celebrate her 50th birthday and lengthy career, Luft has put together a tour with different special guests each night in various cities across Canada, Europe and the U.S. On March 23, she lands in Calgary with 54-40 frontman and main songwriter Neil Osborne, who produced both a solo album for Luft and The Small Glories 2019 sophomore record, Assiniboine & The Red. Osborne, of course, is no slouch in the songwriting department himself, having penned CanCon classics such as I Go Blind and Baby Have Some Faith and Miss You for his band.

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