Unique Opportunities

From burlesque shows to tangos to music festivals and everything in between, we love to play for different audiences.

We have partnered with Glitterverse Productions: Alberta’s premiere burlesque performers. The burlesque collaboration has been enjoyable right from the start. We had no idea how big the burlesque community was in Calgary, but we’re thrilled we can say we are a part of it. We, as a band, were accepted into the community with open arms, as we were invited to join burlesque entertainers to say their prayer before the show. “It seemed to create a bond between the two forms of entertainers so that our performances would be in total sync,” says Gerry Hopfner. 

The production of these shows has been a different experience. According to Sheilah Hammerton, “the dancers were thrilled to perform with a live band, we have improved our performances with musical transitions required, and Glitterverse has been generous with promotion and feedback.”

Performances with them are electric – the crowd is energetic, which makes the performance so much better.  This opportunity has made us grow as a band, and we can’t wait to play the next burlesque event.  A lot of fun was had crafting burlesque names for ourselves – Shimmy de Bone, Velvet Champagne, Papa Oom Mow Mow, Chicago Sugar and Jagalicious, to name a few. 

Tangos – where do we begin?

This genre was entirely out of our big band mindset, but thankfully Lael pushed us to all get on board. Maybe it wasn’t ‘us’ initially, but we quickly rose to the challenge, and the Tangos entered into our repertoire.

“Taking on a project like the Tangos (a three-movement piece) was unlike anything we had done before, in that the music is outside of the jazz genre. Part of Lael’s vision is to expose us to ‘New Works’ music festivals and, therefore, avant-garde music.  We commissioned local composer Scott Godin to create this work for us. We worked closely with him to perfect and perform it.  The Tangos are extremely challenging and difficult, and it challenged us as a band to trust Lael and step outside of our comfort zone. After hours and hours of rehearsal, it was exhilarating to debut the Tangos at the Ironwood Stage & Grill and then at the Longshadow New Music Festival in Yellowknife.
– Deb Watson

“I loved that the Tangos got us to Yellowknife and that we were also able to showcase our other repertoire.  I have always wanted to create a show that was reminiscent of the ‘old days.’ The Burlesque show gave us that opportunity to experience something very akin to what I think the venues were like in the ’30s and ’40s.”

-Lael Johnston

To the future

Where will MBJS be performing in the future?

Our band is hopeful to continue participating in these unique opportunities – maybe you’ll see us in Cuba! We would love to continue our collaboration with Glitterverse and working with professionals and our community partners.

“And perhaps we can plan a 30-year reunion of all past, current and future band members” says, Emmett Hogan.