Calgary Stampede newbies, or those who have chosen not to partake, would be forgiven for thinking the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth offers a heavy helping of homogenized twang and not much else when it comes to musical choices.
It’s true, there is a good chance Calgary could seem a sonically unfriendly place from July 8 to 17 to those who are not fans of safe and radio-friendly country music. It’s everywhere. But there is actually quite a bit of variety on tap, whether it be through official venues such as the Coca-Cola stage and Big Four Roadhouse, events such as the Cowboys Music Festival or local haunts that use these 10 days to carry on with the stellar programming they do all year round.
Here are some music highlights planned for Calgary Stampede 2022.
Not his first rodeo
Blake Shelton is a Stampede veteran, one of those reliably popular hitmakers that has been a no-brainer for Stampede programmers. He was also supposed to play the Calgary Stampede in 2020 before COVID-19 intervened. The scheduling gods were smiling on Stampede programmers this year because Shelton is the one and only artist playing the Saddledome (July 16) during Stampede in 2022. Saturday night is usually reserved for the country acts that can provide a stadium-sized spectacle for those looking for one final yee-haw. Yes, Shelton is a reality-TV star and tabloid fodder but, more importantly, he also is one of the most popular music stars in the cosmos who has earned eight Grammy nominations and been dubbed one of the “gentlemen of the genre” by the New York Times.
As a genre, country music has always maintained a robust life outside of the mainstream. This year’s big show on July 10 at the Big Four Roadhouse features a nice five-pack of song-over-spectacle roots performers led by Steve Earle and the Dukes. The lineup also includes Americana and Tex-Mex veterans The Mavericks, Canadian husband-wife duo Whitehorse, singer-songwriter Matt Mays and country/dream-pop singer Lucette. Other acts featured this year at the Roadhouse (all shows except the July 10 one are free with park admission) include 2022 parade marshal and actor Kevin Costner, who will lead Modern West in a concert on July 8. Dance-popsters Aqua (July 11), rapper Lupe Fiasco (July 13) and electronica/hip-hop artist grandson are also scheduled.
Cowboys Music Festival
This year’s festival will feature some familiar faces for Stampede crowds, including Brett Kissel (July 7), James Barker Band (July 8), The Zac Brown Band (July 12) and Blue Rode (July 15). But there will also be shows featuring rappers Ludacris and Big Sean (July 13), Jimmie Allen and Nelly (July 14) and Flo Rida (July 17).
Stampede 2022 also includes the return of the two biggest corporate concerts. The newly rechristened Roundup Musicfest will take place July 13 and feature 1990s skate-punk hitmakers The Offspring, with support from Young the Giant, The Strumbellas and Said the Whale. Oxford Stomp, which takes place July 15, will feature blues-rockers The Black Crowes, Our Lady Peace, Serena Ryder and Kyle McKearney. Both events will be held at Shaw Millennium Park and both will raise funds for the Calgary chapter of the Military Family Resource Centre.
Another long tradition of the Stampede is the on-site Coca-Cola Stage, which tends to feature mostly non-country acts. It also used to feature an endless parade of derivative rock bands, but programming has become increasingly adventurous in the past few years. This year, the lineup includes pop stars and left-of-the-dial performers alike, including inventive folk-rocker Bahamas (July 8), American rapper SAINT JHN (July 9), post-hardcore favourites Alexisonfire (July 11), Toronto dance-rock quartet The Beaches (July 12), pop-rock singer-songwriter Carly Rae Jepson (July 14), California alt-rockers The Cold War Kids (July 15), Vancouver indie-rock collective The New Pornographers (July 15) and pop sensation Alessia Cara (July 17).
If it’s twang you’re looking for, this year’s lineup at Nashville North will feature its usual sampling of hot young mainstream country acts. The party tent will feature performances by Tenille Townes (July 8), brother-sister duo The Reklaws (July 13), Tebey (July 9), Calgary expat Lindsay Ell (July 14) and Jade Eagleson (July 16).
Check your local listings for even more acts. Venues that offer live music on a regular basis such as the Ironwood Stage and Grill, Mikey’s on 12th, The Blues Can and King Eddy will be featuring top-tier music during Stampede week. The historic King Eddy will feature performances by Bonnyville’s Robert Adam (July 8), The Blake Reid Band (July 13) and Lauren Mayell (July 16). The Blues Can will offer a week of blues/country, including a July 14 performance by Lethbridge’s Shaela Miller, who picked up the win and $100,953 prize as this year’s winner of Project WILD.
The Calgary Stampede runs from July 8-17.