While it may be depressing for some of us that Alberta’s leading cultural export right now is probably Nickelback, Alberta is known for many artists working in many fields around the world.
A number of years ago, my daughter Hanna and I were in New York where we saw a performance of Calgary’s Old Trout’s Famous Puppet Death Scenes at the Public Theatre. I wrote about that event in my column in the Calgary Herald and I know many people were surprised to learn about this production taking place in the Big Apple.
Back then, there were people in Calgary and perhaps throughout the province who thought we were still importing our art from exotic places like Toronto, New York and London. While there’s still a bit of that going on, it hasn’t really been that way for 20 years or so.
Alberta art of all kinds is of a high enough quality to export. But it doesn’t just happen. It takes a lot of hard work and some financial support and so I’d like to talk about an upcoming event that is near to my heart in many ways.
Every year, an organization called the Folk Alliance International puts on a conference for musicians and other individuals from all areas of music presentation to attend and participate in — and indeed to showcase their talents. Last year the event took place in Memphis, Tennessee and this year it is being held in Toronto.
My friend Stewart Chyz (a fellow Saskatchewan expat) has been involved with this event through the Bow Valley Music Club, a great organization that, among other things, brought in Jack Semple last season . (Jack is another Saskatchewan boy, but not an expat, he still lives there. He and I went to high school together in Regina back in the day. But that’s another story for another day.) BVMC puts on 10 concerts a year at the Strathcona Community Centre. Full details can be found on their website, www.bowvalleymusicclub.org.
The goal of the club is to help offset the costs incurred by Alberta musicians who wish to attend this event. Through their fundraising efforts, the club pays for at least a portion of the registration fees as well as providing presentation and showcase rooms for our musicians to perform in. The goal of course it to create awareness and even work for our artists outside of Alberta.
This idea of cultural exportation is important to our image in other parts of Canada and beyond; for providing a real sense of what is happening here for many people whose image of Alberta dates back to the 1920’s.
To help raise some funds for this event, Stewart has very generously (ie, out of his own pocket) produced a compilation CD called Toronto Bound, featuring songs by many of this year’s participants. These are no slouches on this disc – they are some of our finest musicians, including Ralph Boyd Johnson, Steve Pineo and Jenny Allen, to name but three.
Stewart isn’t looking to make his money back for himself, but he is looking to sell as many CD’s as he can to support this venture. One way to get them is through the BVMC website or through their Facebook page, but an even better way is to pick one up at the Ironwood on Sunday, October 21, from 2 – 6 PM, where there will be live entertainment, of course, including Pear, Steve Pineo, The Jenny Allen Trio and John Wort Hannam.
The Ironwood is located at 1229 9th Avenue S.E. in Inglewood. It’s 20 bucks to get in, another 20 for a CD. In this way you can help support Alberta musicians showcase their talents in Toronto early next year.
PS. If you want to pick up a copy of the disc and support this worthy cause, they are available for $20.00 at Heritage Poster and Music on the NW corner of 11th Ave. and 14th St. SW.
Thanks for reading. I leave with you a little snippet from the Trouts . . .