Mystery Train to roll into Lacombe for performing arts centre benefit

Elvis tribute artist CJ Berube and his wife, Kim, perform during Music in the Park at Lest We Forget Park in Lacombe on Wed. Aug. 23, 2016. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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The classic tunes of the King of Rock and Roll, and music from that era, will help lay the groundwork in improving what will be the community’s main hub for the arts.

For two nights – Feb. 28 and March 1 – local Elvis impersonator C.J. Berube and musical guests will take the stage at the Lacombe Memorial Centre for “Mystery Train,” a benefit concert for the Lacombe Performing  Arts Centre (LPAC) and planned renovations to their new Trinity Lutheran Church home.

The concert will bring together a total of 13 musicians as part of a full band – something many of the musicians themselves don’t have many opportunities to be part of.

“For myself and my wife, we don’t have a lot of opportunity to work with a whole orchestra to this extent . We all love the classic music and thought it would be a good opportunity to put this show together,” said Berube.

“Of course, we’re all very strong supporters of the LPAC – it’s really something special for all of us, especially with most of us living in Lacombe.”

Once, Lacombe Composite High School had an auditorium suitable not just for musical performances but theatre and dance. However, during the school’s modernization in the early 2000’s, it was demolished to make room for the school offices, leaving the community without a comparable facility for such productions.

Needing a dedicated arts space in the community, the LPAC group worked towards creating a joint use facility through the Cranna Community Cultural Centre Initiative, but knowing the City of Lacombe would not be able to create such a facility in the near future, the group looked for new options and ultimately settled on the Trinity Lutheran Church.

Their goal is to eventually turn the church into a theatre with potential seating capacity of 300, and give the community the arts centre they’ve been yearning for.

What better way to work towards doing just that then to take the community back to the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and the time of Elvis, Ray Charles, Neil Diamond, Tina Turner and others now seen as musical icons.

“Going back to Music in the Park – you have groups that bring some of those classics that everyone can identify with – either they remember the songs personally and were influenced by them, or they know it influenced their parents and grandparents. At one point, they’ve heard those songs, so it brings back some nostalgia and memories,” he said.

Berube’s  own love of the classic tunes stems from growing up with siblings that would always play music from that era.

“He sang everything. Elvis started out in the rockabilly music, but he sang rhythm and blues, country, gospel – he was very versatile. He was one of those entertainers who was able to transition from decade to decade and reinvent himself,” he said.

“He influenced a lot of entertainers in his time, but they also influenced him because he was not necessarily a writer – it was other entertainers that wrote the music that became quite well known themselves.”

Members of Tap 9, Half-Jazzed, as well as Gerald Ganson, Tim Bowman and Laurie Shapka will join Berube on stage for the performances.

While it’s a benefit concert for the Lacombe Performing Arts Centre, the show itself will take place at the Lacombe Memorial Centre.

“We would’ve loved to have it at the performing arts centre, but it’s not ready at this point – which is why we’re doing this benefit,” he said, noting the seating capacity at the LPAC location is just 160. “With the space and room, the LMC allows us to accommodate more people.”

Tickets, which were half sold by the end of January, are $30 each and can be purchased at the Mary C. Moore Public Library or Rexall Drugs.

More information can be found on the Lacombe Performing Arts Centre’s Facebook page.

“It’s going to be a celebration of music and hopefully some memories,” Berube said. “We’re just looking to have a whole lot of fun – that’s what it’s all about.”

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