Calgary’s Rhythm & Folk, or Indie Jazz?

They’re a friendly bunch at the Fireside Music events.
Photo by Oliver Banyard, used with permission

by Carey Rutherford

This story is all about creating and supporting your community, musical or whatever it may be.

Jared Clark, founder and enthusiast of the Fireside Music monthly events, held in this city, tells us:

“My Dad started folk clubs in the cities where we lived: being a musician himself, he just wanted to create community around music . . . the most recent one (being) the Inglewood Music Club. So, growing up I was around music a lot. Bands that were playing these shows would be staying at our place, and we would have these house concerts, or kitchen parties, or things like that. So that was my entire upbringing. (After school) I started doing house concerts, and wanted to do it more intentionally, a monthly thing that people could look forward to.

“Fireside has become a haven for artists to really come and , maybe if they’r e a bit disenchanted by the whole music industry, or chewed up in certain ways, they can come and play a show where everyone’s listening to them. (It’s) a show for artists put on by artists. So there’s that sense of sharing and growing together.

“I picture artists coming to Fireside from a world that can be cold sometimes.and gathering around the fire to encourage each other.”

MUSICAlive! finds this warm-fuzziness a bit overwhelming, and so we get business-like: there’s 10 bands playing at Saturday’s event (find details on their Facebook page).

Are they all the same genre of music?

“I don’t think I’ve really narrowed (Fireside) down to one genre of music. I’m trying to coin this phrase: Identity Music. So I’m keeping my ears open both locally and nationally (Toronto and Vancouver) for artists who I think are really making music that’s unique and progressive, and true to their own experience. That’s not a genre, but more of a feeling I guess.”

It’s not all about them, though: Jared will be performing as well.

“(I’d say) the genre of music I play is more a kind of soul, jazz, blues, R & B type stuff. It’s a more urban music, or electronic, but still indie, or folk in a sense.

“There’s always room for artists that are moving people. So funk, jazz, neo-soul is kind of where Fireside is going to.”

MUSICAlive! asks just what exactly IS going to be heard at this Fireside Gala?

“They all fit into that genre, more or less: whether it’s blues, or funk; we even have a spoken word artist who does some kind of singing as well. A Cappella, jazz piano, a jazz trio, we have a more upbeat R & B funk, James Brown kind of thing going on, and a funk band.”

We ask, considering Jared’s national outlook, how many of these bands are Calgary-based?

“All except for 1, who’s coming out from Toronto . What I’m trying to do, as many groups are trying to do in Calgary, is is build a music scene here. And there’s many different approaches to that, and they’re all good, one being to just stage local artists consistently, and to continue doing that. My approach to it is a bit different in that I kind of like to move around and see what’s going on, in mainly Toronto. something really cool is happening there, now.

“So (I’m) going back and forth and seeing artists doing something that’s very inspiring, and then inviting them out to experience the wealth of our local artist community. It’s almost like, in your wallet, having a picture of your loved ones, and you’re just going to want to show as many people as you can. Just for people to be charmed and surprised by what’s going on here.

“And at the same time, for our local community to be inspired by what (Fireside’s guests) are bringing out. I feel that, in that way of trading inspiration, you can really build something in a local music scene.

“The last 2 or 3 (guest musicians) were from Toronto: my hope is to set up a Fireside outpost of sorts in Toronto, so that just as much as we’re intrigued by artists coming out from the east, they can be intrigued and welcoming of our artists coming out from here. There’s something in that movement of influence and inspiration that I’m trying to target.”

MUSICAlive! asks if this injection of outsiders is bringing difference, or is it bringing community-building similarity?

“I do want artist here in Calgary to say ‘Hey, these artists are not so much different from who we are.’ I think there’s a ‘smallness’ mentality here in Calgary, that is (ABOUT) taking a back seat in a lot of ways: just being content with just doing ouR music within our insular community. (Fireside) is for artist to be inspired by the fact that we can be doing what these other artists are doing: We’re not that different.we have more in common than we think.’

“Our first show was on January first, 2016. it’s our 24th show on Saturday: every month for the last 2 years, getting amazing artists together in one room for one night; you can’t anticipate what’s going to happen. that’s part of the reason I do it: is to experience those moments you can’t really forecast.”