They’re calling it the Music Mile.
Stretching down 9 Ave SE from the soon-to-be restored King Eddy and the National Music Centre east to a cool place called the Blues Can in the heart of Inglewood, music shall reign in Calgary’s most historic neighbourhood.
In fact, a new non-profit society will launch this Friday in Calgary – a collective of venue owners and organizations that support music on this strip of 9 Ave SE. They’re even calling themselves the Music Mile Society.
The conductor of this merry band of music supporters, Meg Van Rosendaal, told the Calgary Herald recently that they hope to raise awareness of live music and the tremendous variety of live stages there are in Calgary, beginning with Inglewood.
Van Rosendaal composed the idea of the Music Mile from Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s 3 Things for Calgary Challenge, which our mayor instigated a few years ago to get citizens engaged in their community. One of her “things” was to get involved in the community in which she lived, which just happened to be Inglewood, a neighbourhood alive with arts and culture. Her first “thing” was a non-profit that put on events throughout Calgary which evolved into a push to provide our city with a music district similar to that in New Orleans.
It wasn’t hard to get the Inglewood BRZ and the East Village Neighbourhood Association on the band wagon.
This Friday the Music Mile gets swinging with a combination of free and ticketed events called One Night Stand. In all, nine venues will offer entertainment, some on the mile and some just off the “strip”. That includes:
- Kris Demeanor and Northwest passage at Festival Hall
- Sonny Rhodes at the Blues Can
- A singer marathon at Gravity Café
- Steve Pineo’s annual Elvis birthday Bash at the Ironwood Stage and Grill
There is even talk of expansion, even before the Music Mile becomes a “thing”. If they stretched the mile westward to 9 Ave SW, this music district could potentially include Arts Common and Vertigo Theatre, to Flames Central and Nite Owl; however Van Rosendaal would like to get through the first six months of the mile.
Events coming up in that time that dovetail nicely with the Mile include the Calgary Folk Festival’s Block Heater festival next month, the Junos in March/April and the opening of Studio Bell in the National Music Centre.
A full rundown detailing Friday’s launch can be found on the Music Mile’s website.
Originally called East Calgary, Inglewood is located east of the confluence of the Elbow and Bow rivers in South East Calgary. It was the city’s first neighbourhood, established in the late 1880s after the establishment of Fort Calgary. When the railway station and main commercial district was moved west of the Elbow River, the neighbourhood developed into a working class neighbourhood and fell into disrepairs in the mid-20th Century. The strip along 9 Ave SE was a collection of pawn shops and second hand furniture stores until the 1980s. With the coming of the Fort Calgary Interpretive Centre, the removal of train tracks through the neighbourhood came a renewed interest in the inner-city neighbourhood. Older cottages have made way for modern infills and larger homes have been lovingly restored. Inglewood currently has many exciting new condo projects underway and the commercial area with its venerable old buildings is now home to restaurants, bars, eclectic stores, art galleries and now, an exciting collection of live music venues.