Miesha & the Spanks, Quaker Parents . . . & A LOT More at Sled Island. Pt. 1

The Sleds are on the move: witness the intricacies of trying to interview 2 “Sled Island Music and Arts Festival” performers, Miesha Louie and Mark Grundy, less than a week before the start of Calgary’s biggest alt-pop-garage-rock-screaming-shock-layered-schlock extravaganza (said with great love and affection): Mark and the Quaker Parents are just leaving town somewhere near their Kingston, Ontario gig of the night before as his cellphone signal disintegrates. Miesha (of the Spanks) talks to me on a break from a parking-lot party at Toronto’s North By NorthEast. And both bands have other gigs between Ontario and Alberta’s Sled events.

Man and woman in front of band instruments
Photo courtesy of artist

“I find Sled Island very similar to Halifax Pop Explosion,” Miesha notes, “and I think that has to do with how they both are kind of small-town cities. So there’s more of a community thing going on, everybody will be everywhere, but with something like NXNE or Canadian Music Week in Toronto, it just changes the scale of everything: Toronto’s just massive!”

And being from Calgary, Miesha can comment on our size and we won’t feel dismissed, or insecure. “Something like Sled Island or Halifax Pop, you can pull off seeing everything, because everything’s just a bike ride away.. . . . Sled Island’s one of my favourites, and being from Calgary I also know all of the secret nooks where all of the cool things are happening.”

Speaking of Halifax, Mark Grundy, and his friends and family in Quaker Parents, are from that fair eastern city, so their outlook is from that perspective, and yet not so dissimilar from Miesha’s:

individual holding sign reading Tap Turns Off Quaker Parents
Photo courtesy of Quaker Parents

“Sled is really in my view because a lot of the bands I really like or associate with have played the festival in prior years, or spoke really highly of it. When we were there last year it really encapsulated the city, as we experienced it.. . . . At other ones, with a lot more going on, you (as a performer) don’t hear about a lot of the shows.”

Mark mentions that bands like Monomyth, Cousins, Jubilee, and Each Other have drawn his attention to Sled Island, either as performers or as members of other bands coming out to Calgary next week.

“Bands like we play in don’t tour like crazy all the time yet. (These) friends said that it’s the kind of festival that is curated in a manner that’s really supportive for some of the younger bands, that haven’t yet had the chance to play at festivals. Some larger festivals, you can get put on a (not so great) showcase, and some would say ‘it doesn’t really matter (because you’re just happy to be playing the festival). But, our experience last year was that Sled Island is laid out in a manner so that you’re playing with bands you wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to play with, or you can get your music to a crowd that wouldn’t have heard of you if you weren’t playing Sled.”

to be continued. . .

Posted by Theresa Johnston

Author: Carey Rutherford

Swallowed by the mutual loves of words and music (but far too chicken-shit to perform them with a band), Carey’s writing career started slowly as a freelance writer in 2003, starved him nearly to personal bankruptcy until 2008, and changed directions while writing for FastForward, Beacon Calgary, GayCalgary, and Examiner magazines. With the death of many old-school periodicals, and the explosion of musical diversity in Calgary, the modern approach to writing about live music performance in the Calgary region presented uncluttered landscapes for the focussed passion that Carey’s conversations with musicians, drag queens, festival producers and small animals has uncapped. He was moulded by the brilliance of paper-based periodicals old and new (Life, rolling Stone, Swerve! and Adbusters etc.), and sees the info-verse as needing creative, empathetic, but clear-eyed Agents to communicate these performances.