SCENE March 2024

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BARS, PUBS AND HAPPY HOURS

CAITLYN QUINN, MASTER DISTILLER LEONARD & JONI, TELLING THE UNTOLD LOVE STORY VENUE REVIEW: CONGRESS COFFEE

CALGARY’S KRAUTROCK

THE SCENE GUIDE TO

DRINKING

FROM STYLISH SPEAKEASIES TO THE HAPPIEST OF HAPPY HOURS AND THE TREND TOWARD NON-ALCOHOLIC BEER AND COCKTAILS, WE EXPLORE DRINKING IN THE CITY

EVENTS THINGS TO DO ARTS

MUSIC

FOOD & DRINK

CALGARY’S GO-TO GUIDE TO GOING OUT
03.24 ISSUE# 41
CONNECTION

Your Phil this Spring

March

Totally 80s 8 + 9 March

Tchaikovsky 5 15 + 16 March

A Night in Vienna with Sir Stephen Hough 23 March

April

Soulful: Capathia Jenkins 5 + 6 April

Spotlight On Your Phil 13 April

Beethoven X. Coldplay 27 April

May + June

The Broadway/Hollywood Songbook 3 + 4 May

Saint-Georges’ Sword + Bow 5 May

Brilliant Bassoon 10 + 11 May

Violins of Hope 15 May

Star Wars: A New Hope in Concert 17 + 18 May

Illia Ovcharenko performs Tchaikovsky 31 May + 1 June

Joshua Bell: One Night Only 8 June

theyyscene.com | 03 | 2024 For details and tickets, visit calgaryphil.com

On the cover:

Non-alcoholic Hawaiian Honeycreeper at Lulu Bar, courtesy Concorde Group

Publisher and Acting Editor Käthe Lemon, klemon@redpointmedia.ca

Founding Editor Mike Bell

Designer Kris Twyman

Print/Digital Production Manager Mike Matovich

Contributors

Kirk Bodnar, Riley Folger, Cam Hayden, Benjamin Heisler, Chris Landry, Jared Sych, Krista Sylvester, Mary-Lynn Wardle, Alana Willerton

Client Support Coordinator Alice Meilleur

Senior Account Executive Jocelyn Erhardt

Account Executives Nadine Benoit, Vicki Braaten

Administrative and HR Manager Tara Brand

CEO and co-owner Roger Jewett

President and co-owner Käthe Lemon

Design Director Steve Collins

The Scene is a member of the Alberta Magazine Publishers’ Association and abides by its professional standards. Published 12

redpointmedia.ca

1721 29 Avenue SW, Suite 375, Calgary, AB, T2T 6T7

Betty Lou’s LIbrary Page 12

10 COVER

From fun at breweries to the happiest happy hours; stylish speakeasies to the trend toward full-flavour, zero-proof drinks and more, we explore drinking in the city now.

We acknowledge the traditional territories and the value of the traditional and current oral practices of the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Tsuut’ina, the Iyarhe Nakoda Nations, the Otipemisiwak Métis Government of the Métis Nation within Alberta District 6, and all people who make their homes in the Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta.

6 ART SCENE

Artist, instructor, krautrocker — Malcolm Mooney celebrates his 80th birthday and prepares to grace the Sled Island stage.

8 SCENESTER

Meet Caitlyn Quinn, Eau Claire Distillery’s master distiller.

16 MUSIC SCENE

Heartstrings and Honky Tonks at the National Music Centre celebrates country music in all its crooning glory.

18 MUSIC SCENE

After opening to a sold out room in Sherwood Park last summer, Leonard and Joni: the untold love story comes to the Jube this month.

4 Act 1, Scene 1

20 Venue: Congress Coffee

22 Cam Hayden

3 theyyscene.com | 03 | 2024 2 1 10 9 1 17 1 2 19 15 3 9 30 8 1A 215 36 Ave ne congResscoffeeyyc.com
PHOTO: XXX
times
year by Redpoint Media Group. © 2024 By Redpoint Media Group. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher.
a

What to do in March

THE BLACK BONSPIEL OF WULLIE MACCRIMMON

Curling takes an intriguing turn in Alberta Theatre Projects’ second production of the season, which runs from February 20 to March 10. Set in the 1930s, the Canadian play sees shoemaker Wullie MacCrimmon go up against the devil in a Black Bonspiel curling match. Visit albertatheatreprojects.com for more information and tickets.

FESTIVAL OF ANIMATED OBJECTS

Back from March 8 to 24, the Festival of Animated Objects showcases mask and puppet arts through performances, talks, workshops and films. This year’s events include a family-friendly robot puppet workshop, the opening reception of a stop-motion puppetry showcase and a screening of animated shorts at Nanton’s Canadian Grain Elevator Discovery Centre. Visit puppetfestival.ca for a full list of events.

SPACE: A JOURNEY TO THE MOON AND BEYOND

Escape to outer space at Telus Spark’s latest exhibition, which is on now until October 2024 The immersive experience envelopes guests in breathtaking space imagery, exploring the Apollo 11 lunar landing, Saturn’s rings, the Artemis missions and more. Access to the exhibit is included with general admission and memberships. Visit sparkscience.ca for more information.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC LIVELINDSAY ZANNO: T. REX RISES

National Geographic Live casts a spotlight on some of the most interesting explorers, scientists, photographers and filmmakers in the world as they share their research and experiences with live audiences at the Jack Singer Concert Hall. The latest edition, on March 10 features paleontologist Dr. Lindsay Zanno, whose work is focused around Cretaceous dinosaurs. This is your chance to learn more about the evolu-

tion of the Tyrannosaurus rex and Cretaceous climate change. Visit artscommons.ca for more information and tickets.

HAIRSPRAY

Travel back to 1960s Baltimore this month at Broadway Across Canada’s production of the Tony Award-winning musical, Hairspray. Songs like “Good Morning Baltimore and “You Can’t Stop the Beat” will have you dancing in your seat as you follow Tracy Turnblad’s journey to get on The Corny Collins Show. Catch one of the

eight Calgary performances from March 19 to 24 Visit calgary.broadway.com for tickets.

YYC PICKLEBALL

Calling all pickleball fans! There’s a new spot to get your fill of this low-impact sport that’s having a major resurgence. YYC Pickleball’s large northeast facility is home to seven pickleball courts where you can take classes, participate in tournaments, drop-in for open play or book a court to play with friends. Paddle and ball rentals are available. Visit yycpickleball.com for more information.

FOOD AND DRINK EXPERIENCES

TASTE THE CITY

The newly launched and locally created Taste the City app helps you discover and explore local restaurants with its self-guided restaurant tasting tours. Once you book a timed tour, you’re sent digital directions on where to dine and when to walk to the next spot. Try threeor four-stop tours that take you to restaurants in areas like Stephen Avenue, 17th Avenue or Inglewood. Visit tastethecity.ca for more information and to book a tour.

WINEFEST

Kick off the month with some vino at Winefest. On March 1 and 2, the BMO Centre will be filled with vendors offering a huge range of drinks from red wine, to port, to dessert wines, as well as sweet and savoury hors d’oeuvres. Visit celebratewinefest.com for more information and tickets.

LE PETIT CHEF

The star of Calgary’s newest dining experience is a six-centimetre chef who makes a big impression. Staged at Bistro Novelle Restaurant at The Dorian hotel, Le Petit Chef features an animated table show (done using 3D video projection) with a mini chef character preparing a four-course meal. At the end of each course’s video, you receive a real plate of food. The multi-course meal includes caprese salad di burrata, seafood bisque, AAA Alberta beef striploin and crème brûlée (vegetarian and children’s menus are also available). Visit lepetitchef.com/calgary for more information and to make a reservation.

BOTTLESCREW BILL’S 29TH ANNUAL BEERFEST

This event on March 2 , brings together more than 30 breweries and features over 80 beers to try. The basic $40 pass includes 15 beer sampling tickets, which can be exchanged for 2- to 4-ounce samples of any beer. If you run out too quickly, extra sample tickets can be purchased for just $2. Proceeds benefit the

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ACT 1 SCENE 1
Hairspray, March 19 to 24 at The Jubilee

Mustard Seed Street Ministry. To date, the event has raised more than $50,000. Visit Bottlescrewbill.com for more information.

CHARDONNAY WITH A CUBE OF ICE AT PARK BY SIDEWALK CITIZEN

Park by Sidewalk Citizen has launched its latest Salon Series event — Chardonnay with a Cube of Ice. The event, which runs on Sundays, honours women in science by bringing in a guest speaker for a night of hard science, hard liquor, and hardcore dancing. Currently, Dr. Elise Fear, Professor and Associate Head – Research in the Department of Electrical and Software Engineering at the University of Calgary is slated for March.

Tickets are $50 and include the guest speaker’s talk, finger food, and, of course, a dance party by DJ PCA at the end. Each event allows for up to 50

ST. PATRICK’S DAY EVENTS

With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a weekend, there are far too many events to list, but here are some of our favourites.

THE ORIGINAL ST. PATRICK’S DAY ROAD RACE 2024

people and tickets can be purchased via the link in their Instagram or through the “Salons” tab on their website, where you can find other exciting events just like these hosted at Park by Sidewalk Citizen. For more information, visit Parkbysidewalk.com.

YYC FOOD & DRINK EXPERIENCE

This festival casts a spotlight on Calgary’s exciting dining scene. From March 15 to 31, dozens of Calgary restaurants are offering special multicourse, prix fixe menus for brunch, lunch and/or dinner that showcase the city’s culinary talent. You can also check out special events like a five-course Indian-Mexican dinner pop-up at Fonda Fora, a Dalmore whisky experience at Hawthorn and more. Visit yycexp.com for a list of participating restaurants and events.

This outdoor road race has been going strong for more than three decades, and you can take part in this year’s edition on March 17th. Don some green running gear and choose between a 5K or 10K run that starts and ends at Central Memorial High School. The race supports Calgary Road Runners and Diabetes Canada. Visit calgaryroadrunners.com for more information on the race and how to register.

ST. PADDY’S DAY BEER & WHISKEY TASTING

What’s St. Paddy’s Day without beer and whiskey? We don’t want to find out. On March 15, Co-op Wine & Spirits will host an exclusive St. Patrick’s Day Irish beer and whisky tasting event from 7 to 9 p.m. at two of its locations — Beddington and Oakridge. Visit coopwinespiritsbeer.com for more information.

LIVE MUSIC AT WHISKEY ROSE

On March 17, Whiskey Rose will feature The Dust Collectors and Cabot’s Crossing for a com-

bination of alternative folk and traditional Celtic music from 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets are available through Showpass.

DUELING PIANOS

On Saturday, March 16 from 7 to 10 p.m. two pianists will compete on the keys, performing new and old Irish hits at Millican Ogden Community Association Hall. Tickets through eventbrite.

JAMES JOYCE IRISH PUB & RESTAURANT

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day all weekend at the James Joyce Irish Pub, which will have live music Fraid Knot and a full Irish menu, which of course includes green beers. VIP tickets are available, giving you the right to skip the line and be entered for door prizes. For more information visit jamesjoycepub.com/stpatricksdayfestival2024/

HIDDEN SPOT ENTERTAINMENT’S LUCKY CHARMS SHOWDOWN

On March 15, Hidden Spot Entertainment and Arcade Bar bar will host a flurry of St. Patrick’s Day mini games and events for those aged 25 and up. There will be prizes for best costume and more. Tickets must be purchased in advance through eventbrite.

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PHOTO: NEIL ZELLER Participants in the Original St. Patrick’s Day Road Race often dress up in green gear. YYC Food & Drink Experience, March 15 to 31 at various locations

In the Orbit of Malcolm Mooney

MUSIC AND ART SOUND THE SAME CHORD

Malcolm Mooney became a music legend as the original vocalist of the band Can. Now he is an esteemed painting instructor at AUArts, career painter/ sculptor, and lyricist. And he celebrates his 80th birthday on March 2.

And who is Can, you might be asking? Just ask the person in your life who knows the most about 20th century music.

For me, this happened back in 2021 when I shared that a mutual friend of ours was showing art in a coffee shop on Centre Street, curated by “some kraut rocker you should know...” My musically aware companion responded by saying, “What? You don’t mean Can?”

“That’s the one, Can!” I replied.

When I told this story to Malcolm Mooney, he responded by scowling and saying, “Don’t you mean THEKRAUTROCKER?” briefly taking on his stage persona before laughing it off.

Glutton for punishment that I am, I began telling this same story to Colton Sobey, drummer in

the bands Abrupt Decay, Stench of Death, Satanic Tea Co, Mortar, and Upir. Obviously aware of Mooney, he cut me off after “some kraut rocker,” to correct me. “Don’t you mean THE Krautrocker?”

How hadn’t I heard of this counterculture hero.

Our music history lesson continues, and the following association gives us a sense for Mooney’s contemporaries. Gerald Jenkins is a UK photographer who produces tribute portfolios to and capture images of music history icons. His subjects include The Who, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Brian Eno, Devo, Malcolm Mooney, and Damo Suzuki. His portrait of Mooney & Suzuki can be

seen above.

Neither Mooney nor our music-aware companions would allow us to proceed any further without mention of Damo Suzuki. Suzuki was the vocalist to join Can following Mooney’s departure. Damo Suzuki passed away recently on February 9, 2023. In conversation, Mooney displays a deep respect for Suzuki; they were friends. More images of the two together can be viewed on Mooney’s website, along with a Suzuki inspired poem written in the days that followed his friend’s passing. The final words, “Rest in Power”.

Mooney tells me he once learned of a group

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ART SCENE
Heart of a Turtle, 2019, Malcolm Mooney Malcolm Mooney with Damo Suzuki PHOTO: GERALD JENKINS

unaffiliated with either of them called The Mooney Suzuki. When he contacted the band manager to ask for an explanation, he was instead offered free tickets, which he declined. The Mooney Suzuki played Lollapalooza and members went on play with and manage The Strokes.

And what brought a founding vocalist of the krautrock genre to Calgary more than a decade ago? I am told the answer is love.

Malcolm Mooney returns to the stage for Sled Island 2024 leading a new project, the Eleventh Planet for a now-hometown performance.

According to Sled, the band’s “impressive lineup features Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley (drums), Ava Mendoza of Unnatural Ways (guitar), Daniel Morano (percussion), Devin Brahja Waldman (sax), Peter Conheim (bass/electronics), and Alexis Marcelo (piano/keyboard), with the crucial voice of Malcolm Mooney front and centre.“

Though it’s just the latest sonic adventure for Mooney, it looks to be both a monument to a stag-

gering career and a glimpse at a vibrant future. Mooney is excited about the local talent joining the Eleventh Planet project.

“What’s your end game?” Mooney asks me in sly interrogation during our conversation. “Is it for you to get a story for your portfolio?” Before I can respond, he adds, “because I’m fine with that...” before breaking into a good-natured smile.

“I’ve never asked someone about their endgame before,” Mooney adds with a grin.

On consideration, my answer is that I hope to inspire public engagement with art and music, but I’ve always been a dreamer.

Our conversations skip about without missing a beat, ranging from a humorous recollection of the first time he was served steak tartare, through to philosophies about friendship and mortality.

It’s hard to cover everything with Mooney. His artistry is multidisciplined. He was a painter before he was a musician. In 1968, at the time of Can’s inception, Mooney says he mistakenly

believed he was being invited to a visual art studio rather than a recording studio. He muses that there were some communication challenges for a black man from New York living in Germany.

“As a visual artist, I combine elements of abstraction, drawing, and collage to produce works imbued with references to music, and steeped in everyday life,” he states. “There is a physical rendering of sound; visual music steeped in improvisation that is integral to my creative practice.”

It is not hard to find symmetry between the way Mooney leads on stage musically, and the way he fosters a community and shares his knowledge of traditional abstract painting practices.

He paints on canvas, linen, and “whatever I can get my hands on,” he says. There are foundmaterial, collage, and sculptural elements to his work.

Mooney has painted with oil paints for most of his life, but challenges with solvents and ventilation have led him to use a safer product called

“There is a physical rendering of sound; visual music steeped in improvisation that is integral to my creative practice.”
MALCOM MOONEY

Medium W, which can mix with oil paints, but uses water rather than turpentines. He has been doing more acrylic paintings and pours.

While Mooney’s music finds much acclaim, his visual art practice has been less acknowledged, yet no less worthy of celebration.

“I’m a working man, not a celebrity,” says Mooney.

Mooney remembers a time he and friend Peter Read, former department head, installation and collection services, at the Guggenheim Museum, discussed the possibility of a Mooney retrospective at the prestigious New York museum. They were, however, aware that living artists who are presented in exhibitions at the Guggenheim have been known to pass on prior to the opening events, so they wisely chose to avoid the pursuit.

Luckily for those of us who plan to attend the Sled Island show.

Sled Island runs June 19 to 24. For more information, visit sledisland.com

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C2, 2019, Malcolm Mooney

Masterful

MEET CAITLIN QUINN, EAU CLAIRE DISTILLERY’S MASTER DISTILLER

STORY AND PHOTOS

On March 6, a couple of days prior to International Women’s Day, Eau Claire Distillery will release its “Yours Truly Batch 003,” a batch of single malt whiskey created by Caitlin Quinn, Master Distiller and Director of Innovation at Eau Claire, and the company’s female distillers.

This was created not only in honour of International Women’s Day, but also to recognize

the distillery’s 50 per cent female workforce.

“Everything that’s on the shelf has been blended or approved by a female, which most people wouldn’t think of when they’re looking at a bottle,” says Quinn, who notes that brewing and distilling is typically a male-dominated industry.

Quinn began her journey to becoming a master distiller back in 2009 where she was studying for an undergrad in Chemistry at the University of Glasgow. After graduating in 2013, she came to the conclusion that she didn’t want to spend the rest of her career working in a lab. That’s when she discovered and enrolled in Heriot-Watt’s Mas-

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SCENESTER

ter of Science in Brewing and Distilling program in Edinburgh.

Distilling does align with her background in chemistry but has a much clearer upside than lab work. “What’s better than drinking what you make?” asks Quinn rhetorically.

Born in Winnipeg, Quinn’s dual citizenship helped land her first entry-level position as Distiller at Eau Claire in 2015. She was actually walking out of her final exam when she received the job offer. Less than six months later, her bags were packed and she was on her way to Turner Valley, Alberta, to help grow the province’s first craft distillery.

“I thought, I’ll do it for a year and if I hate it, I’ll come back [home],” says Quinn.

Although Eau Claire Distillery was established in 2013, it didn’t actually begin distilling operations until 2014. As a result, the company will commemorate the 10-year anniversary of filling its first whiskey barrels in October of this year.

And, with Quinn first arriving in August of 2015, she’s essentially been along for the company’s entire journey. In fact, she has either directly made

or has had a hand in the production process of every drink that the company has offered to date.

Over her eight-year career, Quinn has created hundreds of different products for Eau Claire and she says she cannot pick a favourite. “It’s kind of like asking what one of your children is your favourite,” says Quinn.

Despite that, she notes that one of her most cherished products is Eau Claire’s Christmas Gin, “That was my very first recipe from scratch with Eau Claire,” says Quinn. “The first batch of whiskey obviously [also] has a special place in my heart.”

It’s no secret that Quinn has played a huge role in getting Eau Claire from its beginnings a mere 10 years ago to its current state now as Canada’s most awarded craft distillery.

When it comes to encouraging other women to pursue careers in the distilling industry, Quinn says, “Just go for it, don’t think it’s not for you just because someone else said so.”

Eau Claire Distillery’s products can be bought on their website, at select locations across the province, and at the Calgary Farmers Markets South & West.

[Quinn] has either directly made or has had a hand in the production process of every drink that the company has offered to date.

CJSW March Chart

Direct from your radio pals at 90.9 FM, here is a snapshot of the current artists & albums topping the charts at CJSW. Tune in, turn it up and enjoy.

1. Hot Garbage - Precious Dream (Mothland Records)

2. Wyzaker** - Scarecrow EP (City of Fire)

3. Helena Deland* - Goodnight (Chivi Chivi)

4. Bry Webb* - Run With Me (Idée Fixe Records)

5. Mr. Liquor** - Spirits, Wine, Beer (Haushöme Records)

6. Dial Up** - Dial Up (Self-Released)

7. Easy Idiot** - Stock Music II (Self-Released)

8. Elisapie* - Inuktitut (Bonsound)

9. MOONRIIVR* - Vol. 1 (Victory Pool Records)

10. Fishe Townsen* - Fishe Tape (Isolated Now Waves)

11. Jed Arbour** - Disappointing Dog Park (Self-Released)

12. Jake Ian* - Lawrence (Lee Ridge Recordings)

13. The Lowly Gents* - Blue Skies and Better Days (Aardfox Music)

14. Jolene Marie** - Honey (Self-Released)

15. TR/ST* - TR/ST EP (Dais)

16. Osmanthus** - Between Seasons (Self-Released)

17. Phantom Orchid* - Pure Mother (Aubox Records)

18. Breeze* - Sour Grapes (Hand Drawn Dracula)

19. AIZA* - Sovereignty (Hidden Pony / Universal Canada)

20. Lol Tolhurst x Budgie x Jacknife Lee - Los Angeles (Play It Again Sam)

21. Mr. Awesome* - I Eat Ghosts (Self-Released)

22. Ectoplasmic Worm** - Forgotten Room (Self-Released)

23. Young Neighbours** - Forever A Slow Rebellion (Self-Released)

24. Friesen / Hume / Waters** - Nightspeak (Shaking Box)

25. Bloodshot Bill* - Psyche-o-Billy (Goner Records)

26. Jeremy Dutcher* - Motewolonuwok (Secret City)

27. Brion Gysin* - Junk (Wewantsounds)

28. Claud - Supermodels (Saddest Factory)

29. Various Artists - Remixes JID020 (Jazz Is Dead)

30. DJ Shadow - Action Adventure (Mass Appeal / Liquid Amber)

** Local

* Canadian

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Low-Key Libations

THE LAID-BACK CHARMS OF CALGARY’S CASUAL BARS

There’s no shortage of options for places to get a drink in this fine city. Sometimes it’s fun to check out the newest gastropub, or splurge at a high-end cocktail lounge, but sometimes you’re looking for a casual, low-key kind of joint.

Maybe it’s your neighbourhood pub, so familiar you call it your local, or maybe you love a good “Dive Bar” — what a casual spot might lack in classy sophistication, it makes up for in comfort and unassuming, even rustic charm.

THE SHIP AND ANCHOR

534 17 AVE. S.W.

The Ship and Anchor is a Calgary icon and is nothing if it isn’t “real” in every sense. Its “more is more” aesthetic is simply a part of the charm – representing a considerable element of authenticity and true lack of pretentiousness. With events running from weekly Punk Rock Bingo to frequent live music to being home central for live soccer, including having a “live soccer info line” The Ship is home to a range of Calgarians. Just look around – you’re likely to see a diverse selection of people representing all corners of society. And that goes double on any warm day when The Ship’s south-facing patio is the place to see and be seen by those who don’t care if they are seen. Besides well-priced cocktails and delicious pub grub, one can also find an expertly curated selection of craft beer — or you could still grab a pint of Moosehead or PBR for under 8 bucks. There’s a reason this place has been one of the top bars in Calgary since time immemorial.

LEOPOLD’S TAVERN (4 LOCATIONS IN CALGARY)

Regina-based hospitality firm, Leo’s Group has been steadily expanding their successful Leopold’s Tavern concept across Western Canada, including their recently opened fourth location in Calgary. Although each spot is unique, they each possess the same quirky aesthetic, including vintage decor and walls adorned with kitschy trinkets, photos, and punk rock memorabilia –truly a feast for the eyes. “The room, the decor, the food and beverage program, it all lends to what we feel is a fun, welcoming environment for people,” says Michael Ash, Leo’s Group VP and Chief Brand Officer, “We’ve tried hard to ensure that each location feels like the ‘community gathering spot’ right from opening day.” A great place for a drink, with elevated yet unassuming pub fare, and a comfortable laid-back vibe overall.

STONEGATE PUB 7640 FAIRMOUNT DR. S.E.

If you’re looking for the perfect activity that combines just the right amount of fun and excitement, while pushing you to the edge of your comfort zone, then karaoke at Stonegate Pub might be just what you’re looking for. Located in a nondescript strip mall in the southeast community of Fairview, Stonegate is a fun little hole-in-thewall kind of place and is a real karaoke hotspot on Thursday and Friday nights. The service is incredibly friendly and attentive, and the beers are cold and cheap. You know, one of my best buddies stands by the notion that he can learn everything he could ever want to know about someone based on their karaoke song choices. Now, I’m not entirely sure about that, but I know that I have never met a more welcoming group of bar regulars who were both interesting and entertaining. Stonegate is a real gem and a surefire great place for a good time.

RIP’S PUB AND EATERY

25, 15 MILLRISE BLVD. S.W.

Located even further down south in the community of Millrise, Rip’s is a very popular neighbourhood pub that always satisfies by dishing out consistency and quality in a way that doesn’t break the bank. The bartenders can expertly mix up some tasty concoctions, but the go-tos here are the fantastic Caesars or the ever-popular paralyzers. The focus on classic, casual drinks lowers the overall expectations but in a very positive way — it helps to take the pressure off; there are no overbearing expectations, and this elevates the overall experience. A drink doesn’t need to be unnecessarily fancy to be completely delicious, after all. Come by for wing night on Wednesdays for possibly the best wings south of Glenmore Trail. Grab a beer, shoot some pool and see for yourself why Rips is a south-end favourite.

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PHOTO: STEVE COLLINSE The Ship
COVER

In the long list of “two kinds of people…” lists, one of my favourite entries is that there are those who love visiting breweries and taprooms and those who do not yet realize that they love visiting breweries and taprooms.

I am positive that most people could have fun at a brewery, even if they don’t like beer. A big reason for this is because there is so much more to experience at most breweries than just the beer and the brewery itself. Most breweries are active participants in the community and host a variety of groups and things to do. Here is a short selection of the best non-beerrelated things to enjoy at breweries in Calgary.

As a father of two young children, I don’t get out as much as I used to, but when I do, I often enjoy bringing the kids along with me. Fortunately, most breweries allow children during the day and early evening. Watching dad enjoy a flight of beer understandably may not be a ton of fun for my kids, so luckily, many have games and activities to keep kids (and adults) occupied.

Zero Issue Brewing (4210 12 Street NE), boasts an impressive board game collection, and my kids think the comic book/sci-fi theme of the space is pretty cool, too. They also have foosball and shuffleboard, and you can even join in on some D&D on the last Sunday of each month as well.

If classic card games are more your style, several breweries have you covered. Best of Kin (1059 14 St. S.W.) hosts a regular Euchre tournament and Banded Peak Brewing (119, 519 34 Ave SE) throws a Couple’s Crib Tournament — if you’re quick you might be able to join in on the upcoming March 5th event.

If trivia is more your jam, then you don’t have to look too far, either. At least half a dozen taprooms feature regular trivia events, often hosted by Craig McFarlane (better known as Trivia Daddy). Craig hosts “Name That Tune” trivia at Cabin Brewing Company (505 36 Ave SE) on March 4 and March 18, as well as semi-regular Bingo events at Born Brewing (3, 414 35 Ave SE) and 33 Acres (224 12 Avenue SW).

Wild Rose Brewery (4580 Quesnay Wood Dr. S.W.) also hosts a weekly themed trivia night starting at 7 p.m. It’s free to play and the winners get beer as a prize. Pints are on for $5 at the same time, so even if you don’t win, you kind of win.

MORE THAN BEER

Brewery Taprooms Have Lots on Offer – Besides Beer

Games and beer are a natural pairing, but not the only one taking place at local breweries. The folks over at PaintNite.com host painting events at several bars and pubs around the city, including regular stints at Citizen Brewing Company (227 35 Ave NE) and Two Rivers Distillery (453 42 Ave SE). Ol’ Beautiful (1103 12 St. S.E.) has hosted several beer stein making workshops with Mud Urban Potters and these sell out fast,

so watch their website for the next opportunity. But Cold Garden (1100 11 St. S.E.) probably takes the crown for brewery crafting events. Most Mondays, the Inglewood brewery hosts its popular “Crafty Mondays” events. A ticket gets you all the materials for the night’s craft, plus a pint of beer. Past Crafty Mondays have included tapestry weaving, tote bag painting, clay nights and more.

There is no shortage of fun to be had in brewery taprooms these days, and the variety is simply incredible.

If you’re looking to learn a new skill, head over to Establishment on the second Wednesday of the month for Sip and Sign where you can start to learn sign language.

Some brewery events are more of a stretch — yoga, for example (see what I did there?). Surely you can’t say you have tried it all until you have experienced brewery yoga (would that be Brewga, or maybe Yo-Brew?). This occurs from time to time at various breweries in and around Calgary, but the folks at Your Date Night YYC and Two House Brewing Company (1901 10 Ave SW) offer a semi-regular session in the taproom. And beer is even more delicious after a good yoga session, believe me.

There is no shortage of fun to be had in brewery taprooms these days, and the variety is simply incredible. Go check out what your favourite breweries have going on – there’s truly something for everyone, and this goes far beyond just drinking beer.

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PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER AMAT, COURTESY TRAVEL ALBERTA Cold Garden
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Easy Does It

The rules are simple: Acquire the weekly password. Head to Salt & Brick and ask for Charlie. Give the correct password. Enter quietly, with the elegance of a silent film actor.

You’ve now arrived at one of Calgary’s hidden speakeasy-style cocktail hotspots. This one hides under the guise of a 1930s watch repair shop tucked within the confines of the intimate Salt & Brick. (Hint: You can find the top-secret words of passage on Charlie’s Watch Repair’s Instagram stories every Tuesday.)

It used to be that you had to visit New York or Chicago to find a true speakeasy, but the pseudosecretive and uber-classy cocktail scene has exploded in Calgary over the last eight or nine years as the city’s nightlife options have become ever-more elevated.

There are about a dozen speakeasy spots in the city now and a handful more that could be in the conversation depending on your definition, says Sarah Hovind, the savvy influencer behind the Sarah Sociables Instagram account. For most, speakeasies are defined as being in hidden or hard to find locations that are kept a bit under wraps, some to the extent of needing a password to gain entry.

Hovind discovered her love for the classy prohibition-themed cocktail bars while visiting New York City with friends a decade ago.

“They were exploding in New York where there were all these cool speakeasies everywhere and we went to as many as we could because it was the coolest thing,” Hovind says. She started noticing speakeasies pop up in Calgary in 2015 and 2016, when elevated cocktail bars such as Proof and Milk Tiger burst onto the scene.

In 2016, Betty Lou’s Library classed Calgary up even more, inviting patrons to enter through a hidden door that transports them into a 1920s America-themed library that also features burlesque entertainment and jazz nights.

“I think they were really successful and that’s why the trend just grew in Calgary,” says Hovind. “People are really into them. They love the atmosphere. It’s something unique and that makes Calgary in the

The pseudosecretive and uber-classy cocktail scene has exploded in Calgary over the last eight or nine years

same league as these big cities like New York or Chicago where this trend kind of started.”

Most of the city’s speakeasy lounges call back to the American prohibition era from 1920 to 1933 when drinking establishments had to be hidden within legitimate businesses because the United States banned the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages.

Some add their own twist on the theme, such as Shelter’s war-time bomb shelter theme or Cannibale, which is not only 1930s barber shop-themed but also boasts a fully functioning barber shop. The

Modern speakeasies put a secretive and stylish spin on the cocktail bar

CALGARY’S SPEAKEASYSTYLE COCKTAIL BARS

Ajito

7212 Macleod Trail SE, ajito.ca

Betty Lou’s Library

Inside the Devenish Building, 908 17 Ave. SW, bettylouslibrary.com

Business & Pleasure

1327a 9 Ave SE, itsbusinessandpleasure.com

Cannibale

813 1 Ave NE, cannibale.ca

super-secret Graybar is unique in that it doesn’t charge or make a profit but rather takes donations for Inn from the Cold.

“I think the different themes are what attract people to them, and I think that’s what gets tourists excited about visiting, too,” Hovind says.

Many also require a password, which might require some research before your night out but adds to the experience as does how hidden or secretive the locations are. Pro tip: check the businesses websites and social media accounts before heading out since many of them require a secret code and reservation. And shhhh, don’t share your password.

“They each have their own unique take, which is reflected in both the decor and the drinks or sometimes in how you enter it or with the password,” says Hovind. “I like when they are a little hard to find, I think it adds to the experience.”

Hovind has been to most of the city’s speakeasies at least once and has a few favourites, including downtown’s hard-to-find tropical Vietnamese-inspired Paper Lantern and Marda Loop’s recently opened La Hacienda.

“I think La Hacienda is really cool because it’s tequila-themed. It’s kind of down little hidden staircase and there’s a phone booth you use to call in and use your password,” Hovind says.

Charlie’s Watch Repair in Salt & Brick

211 10 Ave SW, charlieswatchrepair.com

Graybar

104 18 Ave SE , graybaryyc.com

La Hacienda

1928 34 Ave SW, lahaciendayyc.ca

Paper Lantern

Basement of 115 2 Ave SE, paperlantern.ca

Prickett Richard below

Comery Block

1B 638 17 Ave. SW, prickettrichard.com

Prohibition Lounge

720 17 Ave SW, prohibitionloungeyyc.com

Shelter 1210 1 St SW, shelteryyc.com

12 theyyscene.com | 03 | 2024
PHOTO: JARED SYCH Betty Lou’s Library

Zero Proof, Full Fun

Dry January and Dry February may be over, but for those who have chosen a sober or sober-curious lifestyle, the alcohol-free days don’t end with the turn of the calendar.

Choosing alcohol-free beverages used to mean you’d have to sacrifice taste when choosing one or two subpar options or ordering pop or just making do with water — but that’s not the case anymore.

The demand for diverse alcohol-free options is higher than ever and the industry is finally finding ways to serve customers quality alternatives, as evidenced by Calgary’s growing list of options.

Concorde Entertainment regional bar manager Makina Labrecque says creating an extensive and elevated alcohol-free menu has been a personal mission of hers since she started the job half a year ago.

“It’s been a trend that’s gaining in popularity with Dry January and Dry February popping off right now but also just having the option of alcohol-free drinks in general is becoming more common,” she says. As a non-drinker herself, her goal was to make the alcohol-free menu as big and diverse as the alcohol menu.

“When you’re lacking an alcohol-free option or menu, it can make alcohol-free drinkers feel a little

LOCAL NON-ALCOHOLIC OPTIONS

In addition to Tool Shed, a variety of local brewers and distillers are creating non-alcoholic options. Check some of these out in brewery taprooms, restaurants, bars, liquor stores and even some grocery stores. Or stop by the city’s first completely alcohol-free drink store, Sante Dry Bottle Shop at the Crossroads Market.

bit uncomfortable,” Labrecque says. “Maybe they don’t want to have the conversation about why they’re not drinking.”

Labrecque believes patrons shouldn’t have to miss out on the shared experience of a social gathering just because they choose not to order alcohol, and that’s the motive behind the creation of the alcohol-free menus for Con corde Entertainment.

“We wanted to reinvent the menu to be really inclusive. It’s not taking away from any alcohol sales; it’s just building on the sales that were missing from people that might just order water,” she says.

“It gives people an option to order an alcohol-free cocktail by name, have it show up and look exactly like the rest of the cocktails that are being served in the restaurant,” Labrecque says. The price difference between the cocktails and the mocktails isn’t as much as some would expect, but that’s because of the high-quality ingredients such as alcohol-free spirits, which Labrecque says are more expensive than

Big Rock

Local craft brewing godfather, Big Rock has introduced The Pacer line of non-alcoholic beers, which includes a golden ale and a hazy pale ale.

Cabin — Quench Hop Water

Quench is not a non-alcoholic beer. Instead it’s a hopped sparkling water that promises a unique flavour twist on thirst quenching quality.

Confluence Distillery

As part of its canned cocktail offerings, Conflu-

“These are craft spirits like you see in the craft alcohol business, but without alcohol,” she says, adding the attention to detail elevates the drink quality as does

It’s not just the city’s hospitality scene elevating their game when it comes to sober options; the city’s breweries are also stepping

Creating an alcohol-free option – two in fact - was a passion project of Tool Shed’s founder Graham Sherman, who spent years perfecting the process in brewing the Zero Red Rage amber ale and the lighter

“Making an alcohol-free beer takes a different approach and we finally pulled it off,” Sherman says, adding it was a risk that paid off as both are among their top-selling products.

ence produces two non-alcoholic drinks — the Tangy Spritz 0% Cocktail and the Non-Alcoholic Gin & Tonic. The G&T in particular is so good you’ll be surprised there’s no gin in it.

Highline

Highline Brewery features a line of non-alcoholic sparkling teas on tap in its Inglewood tap room.

Partake Brewing

One of the OGs of the non-alcoholic beer category, Partake’s head office is based in Calgary but its line of exclusively non-alcoholic beers

NON-ALCOHOLIC OPTIONS ARE GETTING BETTER AND BETTER AS TASTES SHIFT

“I’ve been excited about this movement in the craft beer industry for a long time.”

Zero Red Rage not only won a Gold Medal for the Alberta Beer Awards inaugural best non-alcoholic beer category last year but the year before it won silver against beers that had low alcohol when there wasn’t a strictly alcohol-free category.

Sherman says Tool Shed’s success stems from the fact they create the non-alcoholic version of the beer from the beer they brew instead of trying to create a drink that simply tastes like beer.

“It’s a big difference from the rest of the brewing industry,” Sherman says. The result is what Sherman believes was missing from the industry.

Even though Sherman believed in the product, he is still surprised by its popularity and instant success. “The beer that we produce shows off our amazing local farmers, shows off the greatest barley on the planet,” Sherman says. “In the non-alcoholic world, we’re more accessible than ever before to a wider group of people.

“I don’t think this is a fad; the direction that people are going is to drink more responsibly. There’s a social responsibility that the youth of today have towards drinking that maybe wasn’t there as much when I was growing up,” he says. And that certainly seems to be echoed in the growing number of places around the city that you’ll find quality non-alcoholic drinks that go beyond pop and Shirley Temples.

are brewed in Toronto and Cincinnati. You can get Partake beers shipped to your door and they also offer a subscription service.

Village Brewery

Village has four beers in its Cr*ft non-alcoholic line: hazy ipa, easy-going pale ale, blonde ale and stout. So no matter your taste, they’ve got something for you.

Wild Folk

Made locally, Wild Folk produces a line of non-alcoholic (or as it says, “free spirited”) craft canned cocktails.

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Hawaiian Honey Creeper from LuluBar
COVER

The Happiest Hours

SOME OF OUR FAVOURITE HAPPY HOUR DEALS

The concept of happy hour didn’t start in bars and restaurants, and didn’t even necessarily involve drinking. The practice developed from a naval military custom for soldiers to enjoy their leisure time once a week. But, the basic idea of enjoyment and relaxation after a hard day’s work remains.

“It’s five o’ clock somewhere” is a frequent justification to drink earlier than one maybe should. But we think (sometimes) it’s okay to forgo the semantics and start a little earlier — say, between the hours of 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.? And with the way prices are rising around us, we all need a drink — and a cheap one at that. So, is it any wonder happy hours are so popular right now?

Happy “hour” is a bit of a misnomer — typically, the average happy hour offer lasts at least two hours. Across Calgary, as a general rule of thumb, happy hour begins as early as 2 p.m. Monday to Friday, running until as late as 6 p.m., sometimes starting up again at 9 p.m., and even running all

day Sunday at some spots.

There’s a wide variety of happy hours in the city; some have great afternoon snacks; some have great deals on handcrafted cocktails; some have a coveted location and a great atmosphere; some have all three.

Here are just a few of our favourite happy hours around the city for every occasion.

FOR THE HEATED PATIO IN WINTER — BOTTLESCREW BILLS

Head to this pub for heated, covered and dog-friendly patios operating all year long. Happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday; $5 Bottlescrew Bill’s brews and hi-balls; $6 Caesars, Jameson’s and tequila; $7 wine by the glass. 140 10 Ave. S.W., 403-263-7900, bottlescrewbill.com

FOR THE SUNNY WEATHER PATIO AND GREAT DEALS — CENTRAL TAPS + FOOD

This bar has excellent deals on food and drinks

during Big Happy Hour daily from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and again at 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Deals include $5.50 house beers, $8 Central Mules, $10 margherita pizza, $15 burger and fries and more. 110, 224 12 Ave. S.W, 403-984-6200, centraltaps.com

FOR THE FOOD DEALS — BLANCO CANTINA

Head to one of three locations in Calgary for $3 classic tacos from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close, daily. Also included — $6 frozen and classic margaritas and Mexican lager, and half-price tequila. Three Calgary locations, blancocantina.ca

FOR A LATE-NIGHT DEAL — BIG FISH AND OPEN RANGE MARDA LOOP

The second location of Big Fish and Open Range opened in Marda Loop just over a year ago. From 2 to 5 p.m. and again from 9 p.m. to close every night they offer $12 doubles and $13 house cocktails and martinis as well as $7 house wines and $6 premium highballs as well as $2 off all bottled

beer and premium draft.

2018 33 Ave. S.W., 403-454-0014, bigfishopenrange.ca

FOR WHEN YOU’RE FEELING FANCY — HAWTHORN AT THE PALLISER HOTEL

The lobby restaurant and bar at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel exudes the nostalgic luxury of rail travel. While the Hawthorn doesn’t offer a traditional happy hour, you can take a quick trip to a more glamorous life, if just for just a couple hours with one of their regular specials. Splash out on “Wine Wednesdays” with half off all bottles on the wine list. Or kick off the weekend with the “Flute Friday” deal to get a glass of Veuve Cliquot (regularly $31) or Moet et Chandon Champagnes for $20. On Tuesdays couples can take advantage of TuesDATE Night experience from 5 p.m. on to get a prix fixe meal with dessert, bottle of wine and valet parking for $109 per couple.

133 9 Ave S.W., 403-260-1219, hawthorndiningroom.ca

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Big Fish and Open Range in Marda Loop
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MUSIC SCENE

PULLING ON HEARTSTRINGS

HEARTSTRINGS & HONKY TONKS COMES TO STUDIO BELL

Across North America’s grain belt, an endless supply of songs drift from radios at roundups, fairs and during miles of open highway, marking the passage of time as those miles and events repeat perennially to an evolving soundtrack.

Platinum-selling songwriter Dan Davidson, whose 2017 song Found – the highest charting independent single on Canadian radio – earned its place on those summer soundtracks with images of whisky, the back 40, and an old pickup truck, aims to honour Alberta songwriters and the essence of old-timey radio that connects those country tunes to “their people.”

I love these songwriter rounds you see popping up, but I thought there was a way to do it [that was] more impactful and more meaningful and more creative…
DAN DAVIDSON

Davidson approached promotor Chris Melnychuk (Big Valley Jamboree) to team up with The Road Hammers’ Clatyon Bellamy and create Heartstrings & Honky Tonks, a five-part songwriters series coming to Studio Bell at the National Music Centre April 3, when Davidson and Bellamy will appear with George Fox, Patricia Conroy, and Alex Hughes. Similar versions of the show will be staged in Sherwood Park, Camrose, Fort Saskatchewan and Spruce Grove featuring Bobby Willis, Duane Steele, Nice Horse and others on a revolving basis.

In a nod to Bellamy’s and Davidson’s time in Nashville, the shows will be broadcast live on Camrose’s 840 AM radio station, CFCW, and hosted by the station’s Jackie Rae in an echo of the Grand Ole Opry and in celebration of the station’s 70th birthday.

“I was looking around and seeing the landscape of gigs out there; it’s not easy for artists to play and it’s expensive for artists to play right now,” Davidson says from the St. Albert home he shares with his wife and two daughters. “I love these songwriter rounds you see popping up, but I thought there was a way to do it [that was] more impactful and more meaningful and more creative… something that’s like The Bluebird [Café, also in Nashville] meets The Opry.”

Listeners might hear Davidson perform He Met a Girl, the first single from last year’s Nineteen Eighty Something EP, one that fits that eternal stream of country radio music like an old saddle fits over a fence rail.

As well as their own songs, each writer will play a country classic. “Artists will pick weird covers; it wouldn’t be the thing you expect. And that’s kind of a little peek behind the cover of their personality, where they come from,” says Davidson.

The stories told about chosen songs will reveal more as well. “[If] it was just people on stools, that’s fine, but let’s make that more exciting. Let’s make it a brand and let’s bring it to life a little bit. The vibe onstage is going to be great, because everybody knows each other so well. So, the stories kind of overlap and everybody’s telling each other’s punch lines. It’s a lot of fun.”

Heartstrings & Honky Tonks is at The National Music Center, Home of Studio Bell, April 3. For information, and tickets, visit studiobell.ca.

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Clayton Bellamy Dan Davidson Alex Hughes Patricia Conroy
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MUSIC SCENE

No Cure for Love

LEONARD AND JONI: THE UNTOLD LOVE STORY, AT THE JUBE

Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen are two of Canada’s most iconic and beloved singer songwriters, each of whom mined their own biographies for their songs. So it seems unbelievable that there is an untold story, let alone an untold love story to be told about the two of them. Together. And yet. Combining the hits of both along with the untold story of their brief romance following their 1967 meeting at the Newport Folk Festival, Leonard and Joni: The Untold Love Story first opened to a sold out crowd at Festival Place in Sherwood Park last year.

“That was our debut,” says Joe Nolan, one of

the show’s leads. “It was sort of like a pilot and then it went really well so now we are doing more.”

The show comes to the Southern Alberta Jubilee on April 5 and will also travel to Edmonton, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Saskatoon and Regina.

Nolan is joined on stage by Dana Wylie. Together, the two sing and narrate the lifelong, complex relationship between Cohen and Mitchell in the production.

“We’re not trying to pretend to be Leonard and Joni; we are being Joe Nolan and Dana Wylie telling the story of the two. So, it’s not quite like theatre, it’s more like we narrate their stories and play their music. It feels a bit more authentic.”

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Musicians Joe Nolan and Dana Wylie lead audiences through the love story of two Canadian icons.
I think [it] tells a story that a lot of people haven’t heard before. It’s a beautiful show.
JOE NOLAN

The script incorporates crowd favourites like Suzanne and River, deep cuts, and even a couple of songs from Cohen’s final, dark album. The show seems all the more poignant with Mitchell having just made people weep with a time-scarred version of Both Sides Now at the Grammy Awards.

Five floors of music exhibitions, rare instruments, and memorabilia from your favourite Canadian superstars.

“It focuses on both the life of Leonard and Joni starting from their early careers up until now and how their love affair and artistic respect for each other was kind of woven throughout their careers,” Nolan says. “The story definitely focuses on their music but I think tells a story that a lot of people haven’t heard before. It’s a beautiful show.”

With a dozen albums under his own belt and many songwriting awards, one might say that Nolan fits Cohen’s music like a bird fits on a wire. In having played in jug and bluegrass bands, cover bands in Taiwan, and having spent months touring in the UK, Wylie’s wanderlust and soaring vocals court the spark of Mitchell’s music.

Both Edmonton musicians cite Cohen in particular as an influence. “He’s been a major influence on me since high school,” Nolan, known to be a hard-traveling troubadour, says from Golden the morning after playing there. “I remember a friend of mine burnt me a CD of him and I was obsessed with it.”

Wylie, too, wears her love for Cohen on her record sleeve — she released a song, A Cure for Madness (Addressed to Leonard Cohen) on her 2017 album The Earth That You’re Made Of.

The show was created by GNR Entertainment, which has also written and produced tributes to Merle Haggard, George Jones, Tom Petty and Stompin’ Tom Connors as well as others. GNR’s team, writer and comedian Graham Neil and musician Rob Shapiro, approached Nolan to be in the show. And while he knew for a long time the show would be happening, he got the script last summer and was onstage in under two months.

“It was a rewarding and challenging experience,” says Nolan. “It’s definitely new for me to do more of a musical theatre thing like this, but it wasn’t too out of my realm. It was really fun because I would just go on a walk every night and kind of memorize the script, listen to Leonard and read his book. I really tried to absorb everything he was all about.

“I think everyone will leave feeling like they know Leonard and Joni way more than they did coming in, and that will add to the richness of the icons that they are and their music. It’s a beautiful two hours of Canadian history really.”

NATIONAL MUSIC CENTRE

Presents:

JANUARY 27 Ð APRIL 28

Live tribute performance featuring 60 years of Canada's best-known hits. Rock out to the soundtrack of a nation!

CHECK WEEKEND MATINEE SHOWTIMES AT STUDIOBELL.CA/WHATS-ON.

Leonard and Joni: The Untold Love Story is at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium April 5. For information, visit jubileeauditorium. com/calgary/leonard-and-joni-untold-love-story

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C
by:
Produced
Explore Canada’s music story.
STUDIO BELL, HOME OF THE NATIONAL MUSIC CENTRE 850 4 STREET SE CALGARY, AB

Congress Coffee

A COFFEE HOUSE THAT AIMS TO BE TRULY REPRESENTATIVE

Avisit to Congress Coffee might trigger memories of those bygone days when hearing snippets about underground events on Calgary’s underground Radio Radio — or the old CJSW when it was still on cable — started your quest to show up somewhere on a frigid night that made you question if you should have been out on the icy roads, only to hear a resounding “Yes!” in your heart when you arrived and realized you found “your people.”

The bathroom walls feature posters from, well, Radio Radio (an independent Calgary station run from a small space off Stephen Avenue in the 1980s and 90s), long gone music venues including Night Gallery, Republik, and others. A cabinet that serves as a micro museum curated by Calgary music historian Arif Ansari of Calgary Cassette Preservation Society features tributes to Calgary bands, musicians, and influencers. And the inclusive community vibe is exemplified by things like Pay What You Feel drip coffee. Clearly, Congress is all about bringing people together over coffee and arts, not bringing people in, grabbing their cash, and sending them on their way.

Proprietor Johanna Schwartz mined her three-

Johanna Schwartz, proprietor`

decade-long dreams and her copious experience working with arts based not-for-profits in opening Congress in February 2023.

“I always had the idea that I would like to do something independent…There was always an itch to do something creative and community driven,” says Schwartz.

Schwartz had watched her mother, “a scrappy entrepreneur” found Fat Franks on 4th Street in her later life, and her mom’s passing left her with the means to bring her own long-simmering dream to a boil.

“It really just became I am going to make a coffee space in my neighbourhood that is community focused, is going to have live music, and it is going to be a call back or a remembrance or an homage to these pre-internet coffee houses that I remember so well,” Schwartz says. “I wanted it to feel like when I opened the doors that it has been there for 30 years and just no one has heard of it before.”

She found the space owned by her now-landlord Doug Wong, who founded Sundae Sound Studio in the area in 1980 and ran Canada Disc and Tape. “He was such a seminal person in that time,” notes Schwartz.

In fact, Ansari created a Congress cabinet display with newspaper clippings, cassettes and CDs connected to Wong. “I showed it to him and he was pretty chuffed to see it,” Schwartz says.

Clearly, Congress is all about bringing people together over coffee and arts.

She created the space in contrast to “that ubiquity of clinical sort of design in Calgary, kind of corporate feeling spaces. I think there are some generations who don’t know any different. They don’t know there could be different kinds of places to be, so the response has been amazing from totally different age groups.”

And people of all ages have enjoyed offerings of punk, country, jazz, goth, electronica and industrial music as well as comedy, drag, and burlesque shows and readings of plays. A thoughtfully created first anniversary playlist, featuring over 90 tracks, is intriguing enough to be your spring soundtrack, showcasing Schwartz’s community

vision in full bloom.

Much like the cafe itself, that playlist is populated by familiar names like Lorrie Matheson, Nico Brennan, Forbidden Dimension and Tom Phillips but also highlights hidden gems like Zachari Smith, Nathaniel Sutton, and the soon to be much more familiar Jolene Marie.

“People come into the space, they see that it’s been purpose-built for creativity and performance — which is intriguing for a coffee shop — and say, ‘I think I’d like to do something here.’ And we say, ‘Fabulous! How about next Wednesday?

Artists can DM Congress on Instagram to book a night, set their cover charge and show up with

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VENUE

family and friends to the 30 to 40 seat space, then walk away with 100 per cent of the proceeds.

“Every one of those bands has their own community. Congress is a blank slate of who is welcome there. You bring your people, and we say hi.”

The same is true for exhibits by visual artists. “My purpose is to provide the space to let artists use it in a way they see fit. And to bring things to the north side of Calgary outside of the Beltline in an area where there should be some more culture outside of the inner city.”

With such a focus on the arts, don’t assume that the food and drink has gotten short shrift.

The venue also features refreshingly reasonable prices on food like turkey or roast beef sandwiches, Greek salad, a “brekky burrito” and all manner of coffee-based drinks, tea, hot chocolate, and lemonade.

When Schwartz started Congress, she spoke with Shawn McDonald, who ran Planet Coffee when she worked there in the 90s. He came onboard, bringing three decades of knowledge to create a dark roast sourced from a family he knows in Chiapas. The product is so in demand

that people from Vivo Wellness Centre reached out to request Congress provide coffee, tea and cold drinks in the arena lobby. The collaboration is now called Drip powered by Congress and opened last month.

The lower prices are by design. “That’s really important to me. I joke that I’m pretty bad at capitalism. But there’s also no real need to be so weird with pricing….That kind of keeping up with the Joneses mentality that we have in this city has just escalated things to inaccessibility for so many people. That’s the major reason we do Pay What You Feel coffee. That’s an equitable access point for people to come and spend time at Congress.”

Being unlicensed is another matter of design. “We hope to be a kind of incubator space, and are unlicensed intentionally. It’s simple business for us, but the idea that you could just drop off your 12-year-old to go to an all-ages punk show, [when] you know what the vibe is going to be without adding liquor into the mix, makes it a nice safe line for everybody.”

Find Congress Coffee Company at 1A 215 36 Ave NE and online at congresscoffeeyyc.com.

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Artists, programs, and dates subject to change. 403-294-9494 acpresents.ca ACP Signature Series Presenting Sponsor BD&P World Stage ACP Signature Series Presenting Sponsor National Geographic Live Public Sector Support NGL EXPLORE National Geographic Sponsor NGL EXPLORE National Geographic Supporting Sponsors/Partners Teatro Fund for Arts Commons Education NGL Student Engagement Sponsor Media Sponsors Hospitality Sponsors BD&P World Stage Supporting Sponsors NGL Explorers Circle Engagement Sponsors Lindsay Zanno –T. rex Rises Doug Flaig & Helen Timmons Prairie Crocus Foundation Jack Singer Concert Hall at Arts Commons Jack Singer Concert Hall at Arts Commons Jack Singer Concert Hall at Arts Commons MAR 7 MAR 10 & 11 APR 4 Get tickets now! Malpaso Dance Company WITH Arturo O'Farrill & THE Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra Lindsay Zanno: T. rex Rises national geographic live DakhaBrakha bd&p world stage bd&p world stage Live bands play many nights.
©Damien Bredberg
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MARCH 19

23 AT THE BELLA TAYLORCENTRE.CA

NIGHT LIFE IN

THE LOX

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