Posts Tagged ‘Edmonton’


September 20th, 2011

Affectionately referred to as “Dirt City” by many in its local music community, Edmonton inspires mixed feelings in its denizens. Its long winters and remoteness from Canada’s larger centres can make it a challenging place to live. Especially for touring musicians. But at the same time, the city produces some of Canada’s freshest and most innovative indie music. Edmonton country luminary Corb Lund says that Edmonton musicians are risk takers.

“It’s a little different than some other cities,” he says. “People are very willing to step out on a limb.”

And Edmonton indie has always been on the leading edge. Musicians in that city have been pushing boundaries and crossing genres since the early days of the underground music scene. In this episode of The Birth of Canadian Indie, we’ll hear about 1980s Edmonton, where the musical inventiveness resulted in a mash-up of country music with good, old-fashioned punk rock.

Click the link below to listen.

CBC Radio 3

The Birth of Canadian Indie: Edmonton

July 25th, 2011

I finally wrapped up the second episode of my CBC Radio 3 series The Birth of Canadian Indie this week. What a treat it was to put together. After starting off the series with an episode on my favourite Canadian music city of the 90s, it was a pleasure to move on to another city I’m well acquainted with: my hometown of Edmonton.

Although it’s a small prairie city, Edmonton has had a vividly creative music scene since the time I started listening to music — and long before that, by all reports. Any city that could spawn both k.d. lang and SNFU clearly something special going on.

And while I’m on the topic of k.d. lang and SNFU, the peculiar mash-up of country and punk rock that characterized much of the city’s music through the late 80s and early 90s is the focus of the Edmonton episode. An interview with the prolific and genre-defying Ford Pier gave the episode a good historical grounding. Here’s one of the many great outtakes from my interview with him:

“I always tell people it was a terrific place to grow up hearing underground music because the community that was open to it was so small that it wasn’t really possible for a long time to have just a show of hardcore bands or just a show of pop bands or whatever. Everybody had to pool together or there wasn’t going to be a show. And so on the same bill you would see Entirely Distorted and Jerry Jerry and the Sons of Rhythm Orchestra and No Limbo Lasso and they would all be entirely different. And they’d bring all sorts of different influences to each other. In the case of Jr. Gone Wild, they’d play a Hank Williams song, let’s say. Or k.d. lang, when she started off, she was playing those same hall shows, and that was the sensibility that was introduced to everyone. And they weren’t hostile to it they way you would be privileged to be hostile to it if you lived in a place like Vancouver or Toronto and you had the luxury of being able to go and see only the types of bands that you knew you liked.”

Edmonton’s size and isolation led to a profoundly creative atmosphere in its arts community. As my producer Elliott — another former Edmontonian — put it: “in Edmonton, weird is king.”

This episode has been in the works for a few months but was held up while I waited for the incomparable Corb Lund to come back from vacation and share his thoughts on Edmonton’s music scene. He was well worth the wait. I couldn’t have put the episode together without him.

You can hear the episode on the CBC Radio 3 site, or you can stream it right here.