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The Quest for Twang: 7 local Stampede shows you can’t miss




  1. a strong ringing sound such as that made by the plucked string of a musical instrument or a released bowstring.
  2. a kind of musical swagger, a musical gesture of emotion.

The 2017 Stampede is chock full of music for virtually any kind of fan. To superstars like Alabama at the Saddledome, to pop, hip hop and rock icons gracing the Coke stage and Cowboys tent, there’s really no shortage of star power or musical diversity. But what about that fine western honky tonk tradition that we so openly beat our chests about when we call Calgary “Nashville North”?

A decade ago it was easy to stroll past bars all over the greater downtown area and hear twangy guitars, whining pedal steel and the saw of a fiddle, however as musical tastes change, and venues come and go from the core, it has become harder to get a taste of Calgary’s roots, country, rockabilly & americana scene. But never fear, Cowtown pillars like The Palomino and the back-from-the-dead King Eddy are fully stocked on local Stampede Twang that will keep your boots stomping for 10 days straight.


Matt Masters – July 6th – The Oak Tree Tavern – 9 PM

Matt Masters has been singing his brand of country & western music around Calgary for well over a decade, both solo and with his backing group, The Gentlemen of the Rodeo. Bringing both an innate love of Calgary and a unique sense of humor to his music, Mr. Masters will be a fine kick off to your Stampede. The Oak tree is one of the cities most intimate venues, with arguably one of the best patios in town.


The Frontiers – July 7th – Wurst 4-8 pm

The band formerly known as Sealegs is serving as the Stampede house band of sorts down at Wurst July 7-8-9. The Frontiers play a very unique style of folk, country and east coast music that is as infectious as it is energetic. The Frontiers will be pulling heavy day shifts down at Wurst during the first Stampede weekend, and we suggest stopping in for a cold one if your Stampede commute takes you through Mission. Be warned: The Frontiers are so fun, you may put off your day at the grounds in lieu of the music drifting out of one of Calgary’s best beer halls.


The Hi-Strung Downers & The Mike Fury 4 – July 8th – The Ironwood Stage & Grill – 9 PM

If you’re looking for something off the beaten Stampede track that’s guaranteed to be a rip-roaring electric time, there’s no better place to be than the Ironwood on the first Stampede Saturday night. The Hi-Strung Downers and the Mike Fury Four are mainstays of Calgary’s roots, rockabilly and honky-tonk scene, and both play a brand of high-energy music that’s both fresh and familiar all at the same time. Set against arguably the best live venue in Calgary, these two Calgary powerhouses are combining to play one of the must-see local shows during Stampede.

Mariel Buckley – July 11th – The King Eddy – 7 pm

Mariel Buckley is a local singer-songwriter to pay attention to. Combining folk, outlaw country and roots music with an honest and unique voice, Mariel is a rising Cowtown star, and her headlining slot at the King Eddy is proof of that. She’s been referred to as “The next Loretta Lynn, with hints of Springsteen and Patsy Cline”. Out of the many incredible shows at The King Eddy over 10 days of Stampede, we suggest getting a look at this dark horse before she’s gracing bigger stages in the years to come.

Blake Berglund – July 12 – The Palomino – 3-7 pm

The Palomino is an essential waypoint for any Stampede odyssey. Home to some of the city’s best (and most authentic) southern bbq, cold beers and live music running 10 hours a day all 10 days of Stampede, it’s prime location along the downtown c-train line make it the place to start or wind down your day. If you’re headed to the grounds on Stampede Wednesday, swing by in the afternoon and see Saskatchewan’s Blake Berglund. While he may not be local-local, his unique blend of Western Canadian country music is right at home in Calgary. Mr. Berglund has been selling out shows and gracing the stage alongside the likes of Dwight Yoakham. Blake is the real deal, and amidst the pop stars and indie rock acts gracing bigger stages in our city, get a taste of authenticity, of both the musical and culinary kind, Wednesday, July 12th.



Ramblin’ Ambassadors – July 14 – The Palomino – 9 pm

Brent Cooper is one of Calgary’s most innovative, energetic and twangy guitar heroes, and his instrumental outfit, the Ramblin’ Ambassadors, combine garage rock, surf rock, Buck Owens-style guitar with a powerful gut punch. If you’re sick of acoustic guitars by the second Friday of Stampede, we suggest taking in their bill in The Palomino’s intimate downstairs Showroom, along side garage rockers MOJO.


JJ Shiplett – July 15 – The King Eddy – 7 pm

There’s no denying it, JJ Shiplett is Calgary’s alt-country/singer-songwriter superstar. Fresh off of a stint opening up for Johnny Reid, with heavy airplay on radio across the country, and comparisons to Bob Seger and Sturgill Simpson, JJ Shiplett returns to his hometown for another one of the incredible shows at The King Eddy. His show will be the perfect way to super-charge your last kick at the Stampede can before Sunday (and reality) kicks in.


Want to start your Stampede on the right foot? Don’t miss our STAMPDR Stampede Sneak-Peak Kegger at Prohibition Freehouse July 6!