The big show happens on Monday, but the party happens all week long. We talked to some local performers about their favourite local venues before they play their big local shows.
By Cory Schachtel | March 9, 2023
Who: Emily Schultz When and Where: Union Hall on Friday, March 10 With: Martin Kerr, Fortunate Ones, The East Pointers
What do you remember about your first show in Edmonton? Emily: I grew up lucky enough to play backup for a ton of artists in the Edmonton community, but didn’t start writing my own music until around 2016. The first time I played any of my own music was at Cha Island, which I don’t think exists anymore unfortunately! But it was this little Tiki Cafe that was such a great little hub for the arts just off Whyte. I only had a couple of songs to play, but it was really cool to step into those shoes and be received so lovingly by the community.
Do you have a favourite venue in the city? I really love Festival Place. It’s such a comfortable and beautiful venue to play in and the team there is so great at making artists feel welcome. I also love how adaptable it is, from their main stage to their lobby set up to their summer patio series. It’s a great spot.
Is there an artist you’re excited to see perform, or are rooting for to win a Juno? I’m a huge fan of Wild Rivers. I really got into their music over the last year and think they have such great songs that are poetic yet super approachable. I saw them at Massey Hall in Toronto last year and it was a super clean and inspiring show. Just putting it out into the universe that I’d like to open for them someday soon!
What do you remember most about going to Victoria School for the Arts? Honestly? I remember the drama, but isn’t that just a grade school though? All jokes aside, Vic really set me on a trajectory that I never could have imagined. It was huge in encouraging individual creativity, which I realized was incredibly valuable and frankly, rare, especially when it comes to arts education. The dance IB program specifically taught me so much about leadership and the creative process, but there were so many aspects of the whole experience that were truly special. I’m definitely grateful for the building blocks it gave me and for the resources it supplied during and continuing after school.
Is there a lyric that you love or wish you had written? The record that has probably changed my life the most is Ben Howard’s Every Kingdom. He has a track called “The Fear” and the bridge is just him repeating over and over the line: “Oh I will become what I deserve.” And it just gets me every time I hear it, especially as it repeats and builds like a mantra. It unveils the simplicity of the choices we make in our lives, the power we have to change it and the responsibility we carry every day. I wish I wrote it, but I’m grateful to receive it.
Who: Cab’Ral When and Where: The Starlite Room on Friday, March 10 With: Sergeant X Comrade, Ammoye, Chad Price, St. Arnaud, Vivek Shraya
What do you remember about your first show in Edmonton? Cab’Ral: I remember the first time performing my music quite clearly. It was 2014, on my 19th birthday, and I was in a rap group called True Kings, which is where my nickname “Tk” comes from. I was extremely confident and naïve at the time and I thought it would be the show that would change my life. Silly, I know.
The show was put on by DJ Old Booth and was at a venue above a bottle depot called The Creative Clubhouse, which coincidentally was owned by my now manager, but we didn’t know each other at the time.
With the whole group on stage touching the mic for the first time you can imagine it didn’t start the best. I kept staring at my feet worried about seeing the crowd reacting negatively to my set. Then, I remember a bright flash from a camera caught my attention and I looked up to see a crowd of people dancing and vibing to my music. That day a fire was ignited in my soul that has yet to be put out and I guess looking back, I can say that show changed my life.
Do you have a favourite venue in the city? It would have to be the CO*LAB Community Arts Venue on 96th Street and 102A Avenue. I love what they have been doing for both established and up-and-coming artists of all types. They really help you customize your event in order to match the exact vibe you’re looking for. The art always comes first. I’ve got something really special planned with CO*LAB for this April so stay tuned for that. Oh, and a bonus to the venue would have to be Teepee Treats, which is delicious!
Is there an artist you’re excited to see perform, or are rooting for to win a Juno? I’m always excited to see any and all artists bring their uniqueness to the table. However, one name off the top of my mind is Ammoye. Her project “Water” is nominated for Reggae Recording of the Year and I’m a big fan of her song “Bad Behaviour.” She is performing on the same bill as me at Starlite Room on March 10th and I’m excited for our paths to cross. Maybe we can figure out a collaboration in the future!
What’s your favourite place, or a hidden gem, in northside Edmonton? And what’s a misconception about northside Edmonton you want to dispel? One of my favorite places on the northside has to be Swiss Donair. I feel like if you haven’t had Swiss you’re not from the northside. This is a basic answer to anyone reading who’s from there.
As for misconceptions about the northside I’d have to say, nah. Most of the crazy stuff people say is true.
Besides rap, what is your superpower? My superpower, aside from music, is I understand the question: “Who is the master that makes the grass green?”
Who: Brandi Sidoryk, vocalist and bassist from Nice Horse When and Where: Union Hall on Saturday, March 11 With: The Washboard Union, Aaron Goodvin, The Prairie States, Hailey Benedict, Robert Adam
What do you remember about your first show in Edmonton? Brandi: I have played so many shows in Edmonton that I can’t even remember my very first one! But I do remember one of my most meaningful Edmonton shows. We played at the ICE District stage for the NHL Conference Finals. I am an Oilers fan — I grew up in Lloydminster, and as a result they have been my favourite team since I was a kid — and so getting to play to support the Oilers was so much fun for me! It was cold and poured rain that entire show. But I still had the best time.
Do you have a favourite venue in the city? My partner lives in Edmonton, and so I spend a great deal of time in YEG, and one thing that I think is true of Edmonton and many other cities across the country is that ALL of the venues are underrated and deserve more love! I have played in Edmonton many times over my music career, and a lot of the venues I loved and played at don’t exist anymore. And this is the same nation wide. Edmonton is such a culturally rich city with a killer music scene — it needs ALL the venues to stay alive and healthy, in order to support the great talent that comes from this city!
Despite the recurring issue of disappearing music venues across Canada though, the thing that Edmonton really thrives at is outdoor festivals and shows. I love being in Edmonton in the summertime, when there seems to be music bursting from every street and park in Edmonton.
Is there an artist you’re excited to see perform, or are rooting for to win a Juno? I’m really looking forward to watching Aysanabee perform, and Tenille Townes. Who am I rooting to win? I can’t say — because in most categories, I can’t decide! When I look at the nominees, I am reminded of how many killer artists we have in Canada. It makes me so proud to be a part of the Canadian music scene.
We understand this Juno weekend Ron Sakamoto is receiving the Walt Grealis special achievement Juno Award. What does Ron mean to you? Ron is an incredible fixture the Canadian music industry…and beyond. Everywhere we go, in Canada and the U.S. too, when we tell people that we work with Ron, they know Ron. It’s not surprising — he has been a true “leader of the live show” and tastemaker in Canada. He has an ear for epic new talent, and he treats everyone he works with, with great respect. Ron and his team at Sakamoto Agency were one of the earliest adopters of Nice Horse, and it was their belief in us that has shaped our career. I will always be grateful for that. All of the Horses are so happy for him to be recognized with the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Juno Award — he is truly so deserving of the honour!
When you toured with Tom Cochrane, did he give you any advice, and was his hair flow still as epic as it was in the “Life is a Highway” video? Not only did Tom take us under his wing — but all of Red Rider did too! That was Nice Horse’s first tour ever as a band, and we were equal parts excited and nervous to be sharing the stage with Canadian icons. But they all supported and mentored us on that tour, and still do every time we get to see them. He also invited us to sing harmonies in their show every night. I will never forget standing on that stage the first show of the tour, with my band, singing harmonies to “Life is a Highway.” All I could think of was “Is this actually my life?!” It was surreal, and his hair was great!
In your opinion, what makes a nice horse? I mean, I would ask Google if I were you…but if you type in Nice Horse and expect to find us first, you will be disappointed. You will see pictures of a lot of very nice horses though.
Who: Rellik When and Where: The Starlite Room on Sunday, March 12 With: Amanda Rheaume, Aysanabee, Celeigh Cardinal, Digging Roots, Evan Redsky, Fawn Wood, Morgan Toney, Sechile Sedare
Do you have a favourite venue in the city? Rellik: I’ve always been a fan of that little Sewing Machine spot on Whyte Ave near Mill Creek. For small intimate shows, it’s cozy and has a cool vibe. I’ve always wanted to play a coffee house show at Carrot Cafe on 118th Avenue. We jammed there once but I still want to do a show there. Gracey Janes boutique in St. Albert is super cool — so unique. She cares about the bands too.
For mid-size, the Aviary. They have great staff and sound. And it’s in my neck of the woods.
As for larger venues, Starlite for sure. It’s been most enjoyable on that tall stage and it brings back memories of Rev and the Bronx for me too. The Needle and Station were both super cool venues but I swear that location is cursed!
For venues no longer around, above all, without a doubt, the Sidetrack Cafe. Such an iconic venue. I played there once when we were young, as Rellik and Spade (Tanner Lane). Even this was before (hip-hop group) Won-18 and just after I landed on the name Rellik. We were a Rap duo and I remember surprising the heck out of our local veterans and established rap groups from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.
Is there an artist you’re excited to see perform, or are rooting for to win a Juno? The Aysanabee performance and, I can’t lie…I’m kind of excited to see Nickelback perform and go into Canadian rock history. But I’m especially excited for the 50th Anniversary Hip-Hop tribute they just announced. I’ve actually shared a stage with three of them and Dream Warriors, Kardinal and Maestro were all big influences on my early career.
Rooting to win, that’s a tough call. Aysanabee and Julian Taylor in Contemporary Indigenous category. Both had incredible albums. This will be Julian’s second year nominated so I’m kind of rooting for him. In a few other categories I’m rooting for Avril Lavigne or Tate McRae. Tate’s from Alberta and it’s kinda cool to see Avril making some noise again.
To whom do you attribute your positive attitude and artistic message? Why is it important to share positivity through your music? I would probably say my late mom. Even when the day’s weren’t so good, she always taught me that things could always be worse, ya know? So I’ve always tried to be a positive person and write songs that are positive. Even the darker ones tend to always have a silver lining.
I’ve always been someone to look at the glass half full and try to find the good in everyone and everything. There’s so much negative in the world, everywhere you turn. So when people turn my way, I’d like to hit ‘em with a ray of hope. Like a Care Bear stare.
Did Run DMC and/or Everlast give you any memorable advice? No! Not that I wouldn’t have listened. I’ll be honest: I never got to meet either.
Both of those shows were crazy, sold out and packed. So they usually steer people aside from the headliner, even the other openers. I’ve met a lot of pretty cool folks though from Buffy to Fred Penner, and I got to share some words, which is cool. I’ve always considered myself very fortunate to have opened for Run-DMC with our old crew, Won-18 (118) , especially after Jam Master Jay passed away. Run-DMC is one of the most influential rap groups of all time.
Now that I’m in radio, it’s like a dream come true to be able to interview a ton of great artists and songwriters though. Never did I think that I could pick George Thorogood’s brain or Bill Henderson, or Kim Mitchell. I take away something from every one of these artists that I have on my Raven radio show.
What is a song or genre that you love that would surprise fans of your sound? There are not many genres that I don’t like to be honest. Classical, jazz, country, folk, blues, rock, country. They all have a place with me. I really love folk music though. It just does something for my soul. Which in turn makes me a big fan of the singer-songwriter genre — Jack Johnson, Dan Mangan, Ben Harper.
Also, the blues. I was married to the blues in my 20s as a fan and listener. Once I learned that this was where almost all contemporary music originated, I needed to hear more and more. The old blues of Robert Johnson and Leadbelly to Sonny Boy Williamson and T-Bone Walker and the list goes on. But something that might surprise people? Maybe Bluegrass. I heard quite a bit in my house growing up with a couple of my uncles, and they would take me to Folk Fest and the Blueberry Festival in Stony Plain. That actually comes through a bit in my own music diversity. It’s like genre soup, and unique. Our song “Jake’s Garage” really has a Bluegrass influence that you can hear.
Are you ever tempted to make your entire Tribe Drive show (on The Raven, 89.3 FM) an all-Rellik show? At first maybe (laughs). But my program director set the rules from the very beginning. They’re strict with a no-self promo rule and I respect that. He’s also very picky on the music that does go in which makes our stations so good.
“Our Train Wreck” song did get played in Raven rotation. And the new one, “This Town,” is currently in rotation on our country stations. But only because they’re good songs. My program director, Jeremy Harpe, he’s very selective. He turned down my music for years, as just the artist Rellik, before I even worked in radio. So when he likes one of my tunes, I feel like we have a good song.
But one of the reasons I made the dive into radio is because I wanted to give other Edmontonian and Canadian, as well as Indigenous artists, a platform to be showcased. We play the most local or Indigenous content of any station in the city. I’ve been on radio around the world, and I work on that separately, but I know how hard it is to get radio play for a band or artist. So I love being able to play great independent music, mixed in with our format of classic rock, oldies, ’80s, ’90s, pop, blues and hip-hop.
Stay up to date with Rellik @rellik118 on Instagram.
CBC Music has compiled a complete list of all acts playing this week at JUNOFest.