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.
The 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:
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.
The 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.