Aboriginal Musicians Help Edmonton Ring in the New Year

By Adrienne Jones for CanadaTicketPrinting.ca

A crowd of around 400 eager music aficionados joined six aboriginal recording artists for six hours of New Year’s Eve performances during the Rockin’ 2014 concert held at the Edmonton, AB Sands Hotel. Concert organizer Wayne Jackson says he was simply hoping “to provide an alternate venue for people wanting to attend a live music show, outside of attending a local bar or club.”

Jackson also notes his desire to show local aboriginals and all lovers of aboriginal music a good time. “Edmonton has a burgeoning Aboriginal population,” he explains, “and word was that more aboriginal people wanted to attend a music showcase and dance without having to go to a smaller, much more crowded venue.” As of the 2006 census, 52,105 aboriginals call Edmonton home, making it the second largest aboriginal population of any other Canadian city.

The rollicking celebration featured live sets from Jimmy C & Nightwing, Wil Houle, the  Stephanie Harpe Experience, Stan Jackson & Darkhorse, Country Fyre and W.T. Goodspirit & Prairie Thunder. There was also a licensed bar, light food, door prizes, and a 50/50 raffle.

Descended from the original Fort McKay settlers, Stephanie Harpe began singing professionally at the age of 10 and has developed her own “unique style of country, blues and rock.” She and her band have become regulars at events that showcase aboriginal talent, traditions, and ideals, including the Esquao Awards, the Dreamspeakers film festival, the Fort McKay Music Festival, and the Healing Our Spirits World Conference.

W.T. Goodspirit & Prairie Thunder served as headliners and hosts for the event. They consider themselves to be “an assorted rag-tag group of musicians, whose style is an eclectic mix of country and rock.” Vocalist and acoustic guitarist Goodspirit joins drummer Leslie Memnook, keyboardist Rockin’ Rod Shapka, and lead guitarist Russell Shott to make up the collective.

Promotion for the show was mostly done by word of mouth, a Facebook page, and a mention on local radio. Jackson, a first time concert organizer, tells others to keep numbers in mind when setting up a show. “We exceeded our expectations of people attending,” he notes. “If you’re going into a venture such as ours, ensure there are only a select few who have access to ticket sales” so that participation doesn’t exceed what the venue can accommodate.

What’s the best way you’ve found to keep participation within the limits of your chosen venue?