Edmonton is known more for hockey than it is for music. Music may not be Edmonton’s main industry, but it doesn’t mean that music in the prairies is dead. Geographically and music-wise, Alberta is far from the music hub of Toronto. Edmonton is 3,475.2 km away from Toronto.
Of all presenting artistic shows throughout Canada, the vast majority is music 94% while theatre (72%), young audience/family shows (71%), dance (66%), comedy/humour (64%), and school audiences (K-12) (61%) make up the rest of Canada’s performing arts.
“The Edmonton music scene doesn’t have a huge reputation,” Michelle Langevin, co-owner and general manager of Yeg Music explains, “and certainly is not on par with cities like Toronto or Montreal. And that’s mainly due to venues”.
Within Edmonton, there are over 280 venues that facilitate live music venues. As you can see from the map below, there seems to be a lot of music venues scattered around. (Google Map Link)
To compare, Toronto has 60 while Montreal has 110 live music venues. These include performance halls that are primarily for music. Less than 20 of Edmonton’s music venues are just music venues which account for less than 10% of all Edmonton’s live music venues.
Venues are able to be a range of types and aren’t limited to the traditional concert hall. These can include cafes, clubs, halls, listening rooms, restaurants, and bars. This is fairly common across Canada.
As far as Edmonton specifically, Bars and Restaurants also make up 21% while Community Centers (8.9%), Outdoor (4.6%), Places of Worship (2.4%), Schools or universities (1%), Nightclub (0.8%), Cafes (1.9%), Performing Arts Venues (3.2%) Theatre (4/9%) lag behind each less than 10%.
“Musicians-wise, talent-wise, Edmonton has a pretty good grip on that. I don’t think that’s our issue. It’s just kind of the spacing of our city, and there are different things that play into it. We’re getting really close to that level of Montreal or Toronto.” Langevin said,
One kind of venue that seems to be overlooked is places where minors can attend and perform. Not many venues cater to minors. Many live music venues are 18+. Of Edmonton’s live music venues, 80 (21.9%) are open to minors leaving 284 venues where minors are prohibited.
“I find it can be quite discouraging when you see a venue and think ‘I want to play there’ and ah it’s 18+,” Admits Veronica Pineapples a young Edmonton musician, “It’s hard to find venues that are all ages.”
Veronica Pineapples has been performing music in Edmonton since she was a young girl. The limitations of all-ages venues limited her ability not only to enjoy music but to perform it as well. (Google Map Link)
“All ages shows are really really important. They are important for the lifestyle of its fans. We need to be growing our fans, we need to encourage young people to interact with live music,” Benjamin describes.
Benjamin’s sentiments are backed up by statistics. A report from culture Days found that 57% of participants said they attended more arts events and cultural activities throughout the year because of previous participation. https://culturedays.ca/ab
Music venues have a benefit more than just entertainment. Live music venues are venues that facilitate musicians by having a place for solo artists and bands to perform but also for the audience to interact. The importance of these venues, in particular, is not only for the music industry but for the quality of life for each and every citizen. The vast majority of Canadians (77%), agree that art helps them interact and connect with their community.
“The live music industry should be regarded as such. As an industry with the ability to create jobs and generate significant economic impact and draw tourists to the province.” describes Benjamin, “Live music venues are critically important to the quality of life of every city and town from coast to coast”.
Why pineapples you ask? Because she loves them, but at one point, she feared them.
“I have an obsession with pineapples.” She explains, “I don’t know even know what sparked my obsession with pineapples. I was looking back at the old social media I had back when I was ten. I was posting about pineapples and my love for them”.
It’s a love and an aesthetic all rolled into one. However, it wasn’t always that case. She used to be terrified of pineapples because she choked on one when she was really little. That experience stayed with her for years, until she faced what scared her and gave pineapples another chance.
“At one point, I embrace the fear. I stood up to the fear. And I’ve just tried pineapple again and I fell in love with it. So now I’ve got all these pineapples, I have ceramic pineapples in my room, pineapples hanging on my wall. The cup I’m using right now for my tea has pineapples on it”.
The obsession with pineapples is only a part of the quirky name. Veronica Pineapples became the name of her as a musician because she got a mixed CD as a gift from someone she really looks up to. They titled it Veronica Pineapples and the name stuck.
“I hope it interests people, and they look into me,” she explains, talking about the impact of the quirky name.
Veronica Pineapples is one of Naked Cybercafe and Espresso Bar’s regular patrons at the open mic night.
Veronica frequents the cafe. It’s one of the few venues that are open to all ages. As a 17-year-old musician, there aren’t many venues that cater to minors. Most venues that have live music are 18+.
From the article on Naked Cybercafe & Espresso Bar, she’s one of the artists from the Open Mic Night. It’s an event that she goes to often, to share her music.
“I’ve been to Naked Cybercafe a lot. I love that place,” she said.
She’s a versatile artist with influences ranging from country to metal to polka. Together these genres make an eclectic combination that inspires her. Veronica’s love for music started when she was young. Family was a major part of her musical start. Some of her first memories of her loved ones are intertwined with music.
“My earliest memory that I can remember was my dad holding me when I was really little, and we would dance to the hits of the ’70s,” She said, “Then my mom gave me a little music box toy that would play different genres. I would just constantly annoy everybody by pressing all the buttons on it.”
It wasn’t until she was a bit older that her love for music turned into a love for making music. When she was 8, she got the game Guitar Hero and that’s what really started her into music.
She remembers, “I played that for hours”.
It wasn’t easy. As she started with her first guitar, she had no idea how to play it. She started with YouTube instructional videos, a little bit here and there while she taught herself.
“It would frustrate me,” she explained. And that led her to quit.
In 2012, she picked up her guitar again after convincing her Dad for guitar lessons over the next two years. After leaving the guitar lessons, she had a base knowledge. From there she was able to teach herself and learn on her own. It has been a bit of a struggle for Veronica, but she keeps coming back to music.
“Honestly I’m not very musical. Music is a struggle for me,” Veronica explains that some musicians have natural musical talent, but for her, it’s not the case, “They got the rhythm and an ear for it, whereas my rhythm is going to struggle. But you just gotta keep on keeping on.”
With over 7 years of practice and learning, she’s gained experience and technique through hard work. There’s more to come, and she wants to continue learning to get better. Music is a part of her life and an industry she wants to be in.
“I always dreamt of being a rock star,” Veronica said, “Now I’m playing open mics and I’ve got my first gig at the Naked Cybercafe”.
It was never about fame for her, however. It was about the music, about sharing it with people. Fame, it seems, comes with compromises. For Veronica, the lack of privacy is something she doesn’t want to compromise. Instead of fame, she wants a simple life. Music, for her, is not about fame. Music is about connecting with people.
For many people, music is a way to cope through rough times. There’s music for when you’re heartbroken, for when you’re mourning, for when you’re angry. For Veronica, that’s the main aspect of music for her. If she went through anything hard, music was and is there for her. She wants to be there for people in the same way.
“Music has always been a comfort for me. It was one of the only things that made me happy for a while because I was going through a bunch of tough times” She said, opening up to the impact that music has for her.
Through her music, she wants to have, “lyrics that people can relate to or that really speak to them even if it’s not relatable. Something that’s kind of comforting. Sparks something inside of them.”
At the moment, Veronica is working on an acoustic album with 3 songs so far. It takes time but it’s something she and her fans are excited for.
For young musicians like her, she says that perseverance is key.
“Don’t give up on it. There will be points where you’re learning and feel like you’re at a point where you know what you’re doing, and you realize there’s so much more to learn. You’re like ‘whoa I don’t know what I ‘m doing’. It’s super discouraging.”
“It just takes time,” she said. It’s not easy but if that’s what you love, it’s worth it.