EUROPEAN TOUR: Winnipeg blues-rock band the Perpetrators are jetting across the pond this week to whip up a frenzy across western Europe. The band, which includes Times Change(d) club owner John Scoles, rock guitarist Jay Nowicki (who often plays with Romi Mayes) and mad drummer Emmet VanEtten, is hitting three countries. "We're going to Belgium, the Netherlands and France," says bassist Scoles. "We'll be playing festivals and a club."
Psst! Scoles is also surprisingly excited about getting married at a middle-of-the-road service. He and his bride-to-be, Megan Pearson, are tying the knot Aug. 31 at the famous Union Point church, located in the grassy median of Highway 75, six kilometres south of Ste. Agathe.
Pearson is no crazy musician, though. "She exists as an independent and lovely person," says Scoles.
Where did they meet? "At Times, years ago." Work can bring you unexpected pleasures.
SAND HILLS CASINO ROCKIN': People are pouring through the doors of the just-opened 31,000-square-foot Sand Hills casino -- a "contemporary ranch-style" place -- about eight minutes south of Carberry on Swan Lake First Nation land.
"We had 4,000 visitors in the first four days," says marketing manager Ella Hynes," And they just keep coming. The casino can handle crowds easily, with 350 slot machines, seven table games, plus the Oasis lounge and Dunes restaurant.
VIPs who've come to view the new business include Spruce Woods MLA Cliff Cullen; Glenboro Mayor Bob Jewsbury; Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak; Brandon Mayor Shari Decter Hirst; Swan Lake First Nation Chief Francine Meeches; lawyer Howard Morry of Pitblado LLP; Eric Robinson, Manitoba's minister of aboriginal affairs; actress and former MP Tina Keeper; Fisher River First Nation Chief David Crate and Furlon Baker, chairman of South Beach Casino and Resort.
Live entertainment changes weekly, with the Hatfield McCoy Band July 4 and 5. Themed buffets include a champagne brunch and a Thanksgiving dinner every Sunday. Want to check it out? There's no hotel at the casino, "but, some people are staying at the Carberry Motor Inn, and most stay in the motels on the highway towards Brandon," says Hynes.
SMART HICK: Comedian/actor Jeff McEnery charmed enthusiastic Winnipeg crowds with his farm-boy act at Rumor's Comedy Club last week. "My voice gets a somewhat exaggerated hick twang to it," he confessed, speaking quite professionally offstage. "I really do well when I go out east."
McEnery is no dummy. The real story? He went to Humber College straight off his dad's dairy farm near Acton, Ont., to study comedy writing and performing. In 2005, he won the great Canadian Laff Off and a $25,000 prize.
"It goes pretty fast when you're a guy making $30,000 year, and that's counting the $25,000 prize," he said. Now McEnery's in the process of getting a U.S. green card in the hopes of making it big with a combo of standup and comedy movies in Los Angeles.
"I have an interview in the next couple of months. Hopefully I won't get arrested before that."
HOT HOUSE CONCERT! Before famous roots-rockin' troubadour Leeroy Stagger went to Dauphin to play Countryfest, he and his guitar player, Matthew Robinson, made a sly one-night stop in Winnipeg for a house concert at CKUW DJ Stu Reid's house.
Said Reid: "In case they didn't make it out of the campground in Dauphin alive, we figured we better get them over to the StuDome."
"We all know what Countryfest is -- and what it is not," said Stagger, in front of 30 fans crammed into the big living room. "For instance, people don't listen. I heard Miranda Lambert had to yell at them."
Known for 2013 album Truth Be Sold, singer-songwriter Stagger also played many new tunes. At the break, he sat on the veranda, chatted and sold CDs. Though his songs are soulful, the Lethbridge, Alta., singer has a wry sense of humour.
"People in Lethbridge call themselves Lethbians," he quipped.
He confessed he was missing his little boy back home -- 16-month-old Guthrie, named after songwriting legend Woody Guthrie. "He already has a little guitar and recognizes me when he sees me on TV."
Spotted: UMFM roots DJs Jeff Robson and Gale Comfort, and a big school-is-out teacher turnout -- David Welham, Jacqueline Bays, Melissa Kinasevych, Jaine Martin and Eugene Osudar.
Want to experience a house concert? Next show at the StuDome is Martyn Joseph, Wednesday, July 30, and Thursday, July 31. Email firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP, as concerts often sell out weeks ahead.
GNOMES ON PROVENCHER: Everyone's been wondering what's going on behind the curtains at the recently vacated Step'n Out restaurant location on Provencher Boulevard. A strange sign that says "Dwarf No Cachette" is hanging in the window now.
The word "no" means "of" in Japanese, so the sign, created by owners Yasuko and Taki Akimoto, translates to "the Dwarf Hiding Place." Garden gnomes are hidden around the restaurant in this family-style international restaurant and gift shop.
The world menu includes dishes such as octopus, fancy sushi and tempura, savoury pancakes, avocado and teriyaki burgers, caesar salad and European fancy coffees.
The decor? Brace yourself.
"We're doing it in French country. I really like that style," says Yasuko, a young Japanese-Canadian mom of 30, educated as a linguist. She is also a crafter of decorative gadgets such as cellphone cases, which are for sale in the craft shop on the balcony.
"We will be open July 1, for sure," says chef/daddy Taki.
Got tips, events, sightings, unusual things going on? Call Maureen's tip line at 474-1116, email Maureen.Scurfield@Winnipegfreepress.com, or send letters to Maureen Scurfield c/o The Insider, 1355 Mountain Ave., R2X 3B6.