Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Neighbourhood Festivals and Performing

I love neighbourhood celebrations. They give me a good excuse to visit other 'hoods and check out what is happening on a grassroots level: the shops, music, and foods that make the area unique. This past weekend, I was involved with two such events: Heart of the City and the Highlands Street Festival.

Heart of the City is a huge deal in McCauley and beyond. It is two days featuring music and visual artists who either live, work, volunteer, or go to school in the downtown/inner city area. All of these talented people are brought together at Giovanni Caboto Park, where free live music is performed, art is displayed, interactive art is there for all to contribute to, and workshops are held. Despite a very chilly Saturday, the brave musicians took to the stage to appreciative (although, unforunately sparse) audiences. Sunday was much warmer, and the number of people in the park reflected the sunshine.

This was my fifth time performing at Heart of the City. For the past four times, I was a part of the Song Circle, held on Saturday morning. A group of three or four musicians, usually solo artists, take to the stage at once and take turns performing their songs. This year, I got my own set, which was for 20 minutes on Sunday morning/afternoon (I started at 11:55 a.m.). It was wonderful to perform four of my songs with the always skillful Mike Tully working the sound system. I also joined another musician, Theresa Lightfoot, on stage to play percussion earlier that morning during her set. As always, I brought my juggling sticks and even had the chance to juggle with another stick juggler.

I'm also involved with Heart of the City in another capacity: I am the editor of Boyle McCauley News, the community newspaper serving the communities of Boyle Street and McCauley. The paper is also one of the festival's sponsors, and in addition to financial support, we give the festival a lot of press. It deserves it - it is one of the biggest events that takes place in the area, and brings in people from all over the city.

In the meantime that Sunday, June 5, a smaller festival was taking place in the north Edmonton neighbourhood of Highlands. The Highlands Street Festival is an annual outdoor market featuring local merchants, food, music, and a kids' area. I had never been to the event before, although I am familiar with the historic buildings and businesses in the area. Anyways, that morning I saw a tweet from local blues singer Paula Perro, who was supposed to be performing with a few band members on the main stage, which was located in the alley behind Mandolin Books. A few of her band members had to bow out, and she was looking for a replacement.

As coincidence would have it, Paula was the MC for the morning/early afternoon at Heart of the City. She encouraged me to head to Highlands that afternoon, find the sound guy, and offer to play. So I did. Paula's band woes were worked out and she was able to make her set, but I ended up playing for a half hour before she took the stage, as there was a gap in the program. I also managed to take a look around at the vendors and other festival goings-on. It was small, but quaint, and I enjoyed being there.

Here is my photo set from Heart of the City and from the Highlands Street Festival. As well, I put together two video compilations from Heart of the City, from day one and day two.

I will be posting videos from my performances at both events on my music YouTube channel in the near future.


Shawn Birss said...

Hey Paula, Kate and I took the kids downtown to see you play on Saturday. For some reason, we thought you were playing at a bike festival near the Farmer's Market. Anyway, when we arrived, the park was empty. We thought of you, though. And the Farmer's Market was fun.

tess stieben said...

I sent you an email though have no response. I was wondering where one finds out about these events before they happen. It seems everyone writes about what is past; even the Examiner and I always think "gee I wish I had know about this event". hugs!

Paula E. Kirman said...

@Shawn - I was playing at Heart of the City in Giovanni Caboto Park when you were at the Farmer's Market! Sorry we got our wires crossed. I am playing this Saturday (June 18) at Bikeology in Beaver Hills House Park at noon.

@Tess - feel free to add me on Facebook (if you use it) because I always post about upcoming events. It is also where I hear about many of the events I attend in the first place.