Posted tagged ‘community’

Getting to Know your Edmonton Music Community


In the last few weeks, I’ve had the chance to sit down and chat with some pretty rad Edmontonians. I’d like to tell you about three of them, since they’re all up to really good things in the community, and that’s cool.

I met two of ’em at an event put on by the Edmonton Public Library and the CBC. Called the Human Library, it was a chance for people to sign out human books and talk with them. It was like reading a book with lots of pictures, but EVEN BETTER.

OmarThe first guy was Omar Mouallem. You might know him from all the writing he does for little publications like Metro News, Avenue Edmonton, and the Globe and Mail. He’s also the Edmonton Public Library’s 2013 Writer in Residence. Oh, and he also raps – he has two albums out, and has performed at Nextfest and the Edmonton Poetry Festival.

The one thing he doesn’t do apparently, is sleep.

And, he uses his powers for the good of the community. Take this song for example:

In the near future, Mouallem will be putting on rap workshops, participating in Story Slam, and organizing other events for youth and newcomers.

In fact, this Wednesday, 6 February, he’ll put putting on “The 7 Deadly Sins of Bad Writing” at Stanley Miller Library, in the basement at 7PM. In light of him hosting an event on bad writing…I hope he never reads this.

The next guy I talked to was Stephen “Komrade” Goyette. That’s him on the left there, beside some dude who really needs a haircut:

CBC Human Library

I’d met Goyette briefly a few weeks before, at the fifth annual Hip-Hop on the Ave, which happens every year at Avenue Theatre on 118th Ave. Dozens of local artists perform in support of Santa’s Anonymous. For many, it’s their first chance to get on stage.

Goyette organized it. He also opened the doors for youth from the inner-city to attend for free. He understands how important it is to give back to the community, and to give people opportunities. His own music, and the songs he releases with his younger sibling as the Brothers Grim, reflects this. Just check this out:

His plan, Goyette says, “is to stay in the community.” He knows that’s how to really make a difference.

ButlerThe third fellow, Tyler Butler, wasn’t a human book this time around, but you can still learn a lot about what someone is up to when you’re having coffee with ’em. Butler is a folk musician who firmly believes in participating in your local music community, and lucky for Edmonton, that’s where he’s from.

Butler also understand the importance of networks, and being supported by other music communities so you can do things like, you know, tour.

As such, he’s started a new record label made up of like-minded musicians called Cabin Songs. Recently they put on a concurrent 17-city show. Taking place all over Canada, each show was locally organized.

This, you might have noticed, nicely combined the local community with the trans-local network.

Butler believes in taking the DIY ethic to the next level, or DIT. Do-It-Together. It’s community at its best.

Tonight, Tuesday February 5th, is Edmonton’s big Cabin Songs Showcase, with Nick Everett, Tyler Butler, and Mike Tod. It kicks off at the Wunderbar at 9PM.

You can also read more about the label here.

So that’s what those guys are up to. And I’m off to get more coffee.

Raising the Maximum Punk Age


Back in the early days of punk, the kids used the age of 30 as the marker for when someone was too uncool to be part of the scene. Who would ever get that old, right?

Well, this summer, one of the most important punk institutions passed through that barrier.

Happy 30th birthday to the fanzine, Maximum Rocknroll!

Not so funny now, is it?


Edmonton’s Streetball Showdown


When I first started working in Edmonton’s inner city a few months ago, I heard about a young musician named Lance. He wanted to organize an event celebrating the great things happening in the community.

Of course, putting together any kind of event can be a tall order, even if it’s just a Tuesday night poker game…which this is not. Lance’s idea certainly involved a lot more work and creativity than getting a deck of cards. His vision was for something as inclusive as possible – bringing people together in a public space for a fun, clean, community event.

And it looks like Lance has done it. With lots of support, time, and effort, Edmonton’s Streetball Showdown will be taking place this Saturday, August 4th in Centennial Plaza from 2:00-7:00.

There’s going to be food.

There’s going to be streetball.

And there’s going to be tons of local music.

$20 will get you into the 4 on 4 streetball tournament, and if your team wins – you take the pot. If you prefer playing music to ball, sign up to perform. You’ll join a stacked bill including Ambiguous  and Shawn “Feenix” Bernard.

Lance wants to recognize the positive things going on in the downtown community, and the event this Saturday will show this in spades. It’s all-ages, and everyone is welcome to stop by. If you want to participate in the tournament or the music, get there around 1:00.

Come see what youth can do when they’re given independence and the opportunity to thrive – and the positive impact this has on the community as a whole.

click here for the Streetball Showdown Facebook event

this IS for you…to read.


Here’e a link to my MA thesis, This is Not For You: The Rise and Fall of Music Milieux in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, 1950s -1990s.

Pull Yourself Up and Go Out Again!


In case you didn’t notice, the so-called “Super Committee” that’s supposedly “trying” to sort out the deficit problems in the United States could sure use some help.

the...not so super committee

So it’s really too bad they don’t have the Edmonton music community on their side. As shown during the last week, they actually get things done. Recently it came to light that the Wunderbar Hofbrauhaus is in danger of closing down. So local musicians, record labels, writers, and people that are skilled in the art of alcohol consumption rushed to the venue’s aid. After some great fundraising, the threat of the Wunderbar having to shut down has lessened, but they’re not out of the woods yet…it’s always good to have something stored up for winter anyways.

Luckily, that means unlike the super committee (which would just throw in the towel), the music community isn’t letting up. This Wednesday night, the Wunderbar is having a Folkraiser. F&M, Tyler Butler, Jim “Nowhere” RalnykTroy Snaterse and Huckleberry are all playing.

Show starts at 8, so get there early and have one of them fancy beers they got.

Cover is by donation.

Yes, of course it’s important to go out tonight!


It’s a scientific fact that music scenes need good venues in order to thrive. While these spaces can be a parking lot, empty swimming pool, or your parent’s basement – it’s always nice to have something a little more…official. Liverpool had the Cavern Club. New York had CBGBs. Minneapolis had First Avenue. Berekeley had 924 Gilman Street. Los Angeles had Whisky a Go Go.  Those are just a few well-known ones, but if you look at any well-developed music milieu, from nowadays all the way back to the stone age, there’s at least one venue supporting that community – serving as a foundation for whatever the heck the scene’s participants are up to.

Mos Eisley had a great scene thanks to this catina

Anybody with half a brain and at least partial hearing can figure out that Edmonton has a heck of a music community these days. There’s heaps of talented musicians, and appreciative audiences ready to fill up seats at a show. And a venue that has quickly become one of the best in Edmonton for bands coming to town and local acts is the Wunderbar Hofbrauhaus on Whyte Ave and 101 street. A cozy, communal space, the venue plays host to great music nearly every night, while coincidentally having a really rad beer selection.

The problem with music venues here in Edmonton, and anywhere else, is sustainability. All too often, these places close down, or stop doing the things for the scene that made them great in the first place. For example, the Whisky a Go Go of today is not the same place the Doors or the Germs once played. Jim Morrison certainly never had to pay to play, and you wouldn’t be kicked out of a Germs’ show for a bit of moshing.

The Wunderbar, however, has only been getting better and better. Unfortunately though, it has run into financial trouble and is in danger of closing down. Unsurprisingly, local musicians have rallied around it, and are doing everything they can to help the place stay open.

Here’s a short list of what you can do to help:

1. Go there and try the great beer. Remember: Every pint counts!

2. Head over tonight and see the Old Ugly show. 8:00. $5:

3. When you’re at the show tonight, buy a copy of Tyler Butler‘s new EP. He’s donating all the proceeds to the Wunderbar, AND it’s really good! Then congratulate yourself for helping out by having a pint.

4. Follow steps 1-3, and then head back to the Wunderbar on Saturday. The doors open at noon, music starts at 3:30, and then keeps going until close. The line-up is rocking, and entry is by donation:

5. Bring your friends.

…and so here’s an unbiased article on Nextfest, the best festival around


Pop quiz hotshot!

Take the word “revitalization.”
Do you use it when:

A) Talking about using taxpayer money to help build a new ice hockey arena for a billionaire and other fatcats that don’t want to leave downtown.

B) Talking about an arts festival that’s accessible to everyday folk, and showcases talent from within the community.

C) You can’t think about revitalization right now, thanks to the ridiculous Speed reference.

If you answered “A“- quick, stop reading now! Unfortunately, this article won’t lead to you making more money, so you’ll consider it a waste of your time. Go check your stocks!

If you answered “C” – fair enough. Next question: What are your top 5 favourite Keanu Reeves’ films?

If you answered “B” – well then, you’re in luck, because at this very moment an arts festival is on in Edmonton with that exact purpose!

It’s called Nextfest.  Here’s a bit about it.

(The people interviewed in this article had no notice of the above multiple choice pop quiz, and may not share the opinions expressed within the answer options “A” and “C.” …ESPECIALLY “C.“)