Grand home to new CBC music TV show

By Sydney Stokoe

When an event combines the very best of three presentation mediums, you know it’s going to be a big deal. Bands @ The Grand is a CBC-organized event bringing Alberta’s best to the stage, the screen and the airwaves.

Bands @ The Grand features eight Alberta bands performing over two nights at the Theatre Junction Grand on March 30 and 31. The performances will be recorded — both audio and video — and broadcast not only on CBC Radio 2 this spring, but also on CBC-TV over six one-hour time slots this summer. The live evenings on March 30 and 31 at the Grand will be hosted by Tim Tamashiro, host of CBC Radio 2 show Tonic.

The musicians — four from Calgary and four from Edmonton — cover a wide variety of genres, ranging from the Latin-inspired rhythms of Bomba, the hard working pop-rock of The Dudes to the distinctly Calgarian tales of Kris Demeanor and the Crack Band.

“It’s an honour to be asked and to represent this,” says Steve Pineo, playing Tuesday with the Joe Defendants. “It’s an ambitious kind of project for sure.”

Pineo, who has been playing in Calgary for his whole musical career, says there have been a lot of changes in the industry since he started out.

“When I was younger kids were all listening to the same stuff . . . [musical tastes] change, I mean, punk, rock and now dance music,” he says. “Young people are not used to live music . . . there used to be more people doing it.”

The variety of genres that will be presented over the evenings seeks to bridge both the genre gap between fans and, to some extent, the age gap that comes along with the difference in music styles.

“The theme [of the event] is very simple,” says area executive producer for entertainment in Alberta Steve Glassman. “Excellence and their own material. I wanted people that are at the top of their game to benefit from being on this but also I wanted people who have a good degree of their own material.”

Glassman — who has been involved in the television industry for the better part of 25 years — is heading the event’s organization, which is somewhat unique to the Alberta scene in it’s formatting.

“The bottom line is that the kind of shows that we’re doing with Bands @ the Grand are few and far between,” he says. “It’s one thing to say, we’re going to have a show at the Theatre Junction Grand, and we’re going to have four bands, that’s one set of logistics. Then you add multi-track audio recording all of the music, and you add five cameras and a TV mobile, and then you add lighting, and it’s a big event.”

All of the acts are independent musicians, considered to be among the highest calibre of talent in Alberta. Glassman hopes the exposure gained from the show will help catapult these already talented people to a higher level.

“I think people are going to be blown away by the level of talent . . . they’re all coming from Alberta, they have a good solid fan base each of them, but my goal is to open up that fan base and expose these musicians to a broader audience,” he says.

With fewer and fewer bands being signed to record labels, it’s been a greater challenge for artists to make themselves known to a wider scene. Bands @ The Grand seeks to fill in some of the gaps to give these bands the press they deserve.

“A band can go and videotape themselves on a flip phone and put it on YouTube and it will be out tomorrow, but it won’t get the kind of promotion and backing as we’re going to give them,” says Glassman. “There’s much more of an indie-based industry now as opposed to an industry that’s connected to or controlled by record companies.”

Pineo says the advent of the Internet age has caused music to become more of an individual pursuit and as such there has been less focus on live shows. Bands @ The Grand intends to break that trend.

The core idea behind the project is to showcase the best Alberta has to offer. This is a show for us, for the performers and for Canada to see that Alberta has some awesome things going on.

“We really want to encourage people to come down and be part of this and enjoy the show and they can say that they were there when we started this,” says Glassman.

On the bill are Bomba, Asani, Karla Anderson, Steve Pineo and the Joe Defendants playing March 30 with Tim Hus, Colleen Brown, The Dudes and Kris Demeanor and the Crack Band playing March 31.

Audio from the show will be broadcast on Radio 2 this spring nationally on Canada Live and regionally on The Key of A, with the television broadcast Saturdays at an as yet undetermined time in July and August.

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