When we refer to the local music scene, we’re essentially referring to a community of musicians, promoters and supporters whose time and energy on both sides of the stage contribute to the existence of something many of us hold dear.
In an area of artistic expression largely recognised as a being male-centric, Fredericton’s music scene stands as an exception to many – undeniably driven, supported and maintained by the efforts of women. To celebrate their selfless contributions, we’ve asked some of the city’s most ubiquitous music makers to share their thoughts on those who’ve helped to shape this essential branch of our city’s culture.
Erin Bond aka Bondo
by Josh Bravener
Erin Bond is one of those forces in our community and music scene that is so beneficial. I met Erin right off the get go through my own involvement in the music scene.
You can find Erin standing quietly by the stairs at the Capital Complex taking in all the bands and talent that goes through. Her taste in music includes a wide variety of genres that she supports on her radio shows at CHSR. One of her shows, Her Turn, is a show about a women’s prospective in music. She has recently stepped up to station manager at CHSR and the community couldn’t be happier. Everyone that has had the privilege to work with Erin at the station knows what a great person she is to work with. Those who haven’t worked with her can see her impact on the scene by promoting local music and arts through the station. She drives in all the way from Harvey every morning so we can get our fix of local favorites and know whats going on in the scene. She is always willing to help out the music community and for that we thank her.
Josh Bravener is a local musician and radio host, playing in bands such as the Hypochondriacs, Nuages, and Sexghost.
by Mike Taggart
I remember the time we met, Mable and I. It was during a fundraiser concert held by A Skate A Day. She was performing in her band Goofetroope, and the performance was donated so as to maximize the amount of money given to the families in need. The last time that I saw her perform was during this year’s Capital Christmas charity cover-show, playing keys in “The Killers”. The fact that both of these performances (along with many in between) were donated to charity is proof of Mable’s generosity.
Mable has undeniably left a lasting impression on the Fredericton music scene over the past few years. Goofetroope are one of my absolute favourite local bands and during their active years, they were the most-requested local act for all-ages shows I was booking. I was present for almost every Goofetroope performance and did my best to share their music with anyone who would listen. Mable also lead an emo-punk power-trio called Mom, Can You Come Get Me? And her most prolific project is a (mostly) solo effort that originated under the name Emotional Problems.
Musically she has worn her math-rock and emo influences on her sleeve incorporating those genres into most of her musical output. At the core of much of her music have been themes such as anxiety, fear, depression and identity, which she tackles with stark honesty.
Along with making her own music she has also been selflessly involved with producing music for other great local acts. Her production collectives Nerd and Efflor have produced and released some unbelievable music from locals like Tortue, Road Head and Red Herring. One of the most ambitious local releases in recent memory “Candle Power” by Celestial Sunrise, was produced by Mable and released on her label, Nerd. All of this, I should note was also done on donated time.
Mable’s willingness to donate her time is not an act of devaluing herself as an artist. It is proof that music for her is a vital creative outlet, which will exist regardless of the financial support (or lack thereof). She has dedicated much of her life to helping others, both through musical/artistic endeavors and women’s rights/trans rights advocacy. The next time you see her you should buy her a drink and spark up a conversation about music gear, Gamecube games or disparities in the power structure; she’ll surely inspire you to celebrate our uniqueness as well as our shared humanity. Please support her musical efforts and donate to her YouCaring page.
Mike Taggart has attempted many roles including musician, radio host, producer, concert booker/promoter, fan, sound-tech, videographer and zine-maker. He’s more commonly known as the sweaty, hairy guy drinking too much at the concert.
by Tate LeJeune
I owe so many back pats to Sophia Bartholomew. Despite our similarly brief experience in the music community thus far, she deserves credit for the depth of my involvement. Many city beings here have known her as an intuitive interdisciplinary artist, or an ambitious community leader. But her role in music must also be mentioned.
When I met her at the former Connexion ARC space on York (before I was really involved in local music), it was clear that Sophia is the type to put faith in others based simply on their enthusiasm. First, she allowed my ex-bands to perform at Michael Taggart’s fun events. Then she and fellow director John Cushnie let me book my own shows, eventually granting the title of “Music & Noise Coordinator” after the move to the newer CSAC space. One could not call her risk-averse; she trusted a teen with all of this! After the move, Connexion would hardly have been re-established as a venue without her holding it together.
Seeing her true live music debut at Swingers’ Club made it extra clear that she matters in the scene. Among equally refreshing new bands, Pregnancy Scare was perhaps the most passionate and fun. The set could have been boiled down to existential slacker-punk with a familiar rock aesthetic, but there was something more purposeful behind it. It winked like her other art does. Nobody had seen Sophia as this uninhibited vocalist before, and she was so energetically together. What a pro.
Since then, I have been aching for some new musical work from her. It’ll happen, I’m sure. Knowing her contributions to HARD)S(CORE rehearsals and improvised drone events, along with the rumours afloat of a new project with her as a drummer, it’s certain what’ll happen will be unmissable. I’m also excited for some new gig reviews like the ones she has written for Grid City. Her approach beautifully summarizes the performances by foggily recounting the feelings and memories they engendered for her, wrapping the events in poetic allure. She did review one of my CNUS shows in November, but even without my bias as a beneficiary and friend, it must be considered fresh, breathing arts coverage. Although Sophia does not work at Connexion anymore, watch what she does next, especially for the music scene. I hope she tells me about it at all the shows where we’ll see each other.
Tate LeJeune works as the Music & Noise Coordinator at Connexion ARC, running the Impossible Dinner Party series at Fredericton’s only contemporary artist-run centre. Currently, he is a guitarist in Laps, and his solo project Union Suit recently released a tape as CNUS with Cedric Noel. He has also taken part in local experimental and improvisational music activities.
by Shawn Smith
It was a few years ago (I want to say 2010 but don’t quote me on that) when I first saw the Green Lung Grinders live. It was three dudes playing two guitars and a bass along to drum machine. Super raw in your face grind that was fresh yet confusing new face to the Fredericton metal scene. Not gonna lie, at first I didn’t get it. That didn’t happen for a little while until I saw them with their new lineup (only two members remain from it so I guess its an old line up…it was new at the time…get off my case). It was nice to see them scrap the drum machine for real drums but the biggest difference was the addition of their new vocalist Emily. It looked like she was uncomfortable. Like she was wondering what to do up there with a bunch of drunken headbangers staring at her, but that ended once they began to play. She started belting out some of the most brutal sounding vocals to hit the scene in years. Unleashing guttural lows and banshee-like highs with ease. She was downright scary (for those uninitiated in the ways of metal, this is a good thing). Two full length albums, multiple lineup changes and countless shows later, Emily has harnessed her voice into a fine tuned wrecking machine. That combined with her dry sarcastic wit makes her one of the best metal vocalists screaming at people today.
Shawn Smith – Bass and vocals in Hard Charger & SpineSplitter. Booker of shows, Protector of venues and cheap beer connoisseur.
by Jean-Etienne Sheehy
Live music enthusiasts are the most important group of people in the local music community.
There, I said it.
Without attentive eyes and ears, music scenes don’t exist.
This is reflected throughout Kate Butler’s Temporary Venues series, published in 2015 on Grid City Magazine. Beyond the interviews relating key moments of Fredericton’s underground music scene, the six pieces are a strong testimony of the colours and sounds of the era and its everlasting influence in the local music scene.
Kate’s role in the local music scene goes beyond that of a supporter. She’s a pillar, writing about the past glory, but also helping out bands reach out to new markets. Most importantly, she makes people give a fuck about local music.
The last time Kate and I hung out last fall during Music New Brunswick’s Festival 506, we exchanged ideas on how to get people interested in local music. I look forward to see what she’ll come up with. Passionate people always know the right argument to make you give a fuck. In the bar of Moncton’s Delta hotel, Kate gave me reasons to give a fuck again about local music.
The cliché says supporters should buy drinks for their favorite bands. Let’s reverse this. Next time you see Kate at your show, buy her a drink.
Jean-Étienne Sheehy is a freelance music journalist. He also plays bass in local synth rock legends The Trick and #downerpunx academics Beard Springsteen.
by Brydon Crain
Penny is a testament to how much you can make happen with very little if you’re willing to work. In the time I’ve known her, I’ve watched her go from occasional vocalist in some lame band from Belleisle to supreme leader of her very own cult. It’s like she has a need to see cool things happen and at some point decided that if you make the cool things, they’ll be the closest to what you want to see. Every year after the Shifty Bits Circus we talk about not doing another one, and then Penny has some idea for a theme or something and that’s that. It’s funny but it’s also scary because addiction is hard to watch. She’s made more people in this arts scene do paper mache than all of our elementary school teachers put together and she probably considers that her greatest accomplishment. She’s the good kind of leader that puts the community first and she’s a dope musician. I’m happy to be her bandmate, cultmate and bud.
Brydon Crain is a member of The Shifty Bits Cult, Motherhood and Sam Salmon and the Grand Manan Bandits.
by Stefan Westner
Jane Blanchard has been a big part of Fredericton’s musical landscape for years, far longer than she’s been allowed in to see the shows – not that it stopped her. A regular in the audience, and a star on stage, she is both a huge supporter of the scene and an inspiration to it.
From singing with folk rock darlings Margo Margo, to collaborating with a slew of local musicians, she has honed a natural talent which continues to grow. I’ve had the pleasure of being in a musical project with Jane for a little over a year, and hope to continue working with her for many more. Jane has a knack for crafting intriguing melodies, and for keeping the the humour levels high.
Recently Jane has stepped out on stage solo to break all of our hearts with her own songs. Accompanying herself with dulcet guitar playing, her intimate shows are not to be missed. You’ll likely tear up during quiet verses about love and loss, but the humble, endearing stage banter will put you back together again.
On top of being a talented multi-instrumentalist and a great friend to so many of us, Jane has become a driving force in building on the existing musical infrastructure. She organized a music and arts festival in a matter of months which was a high point of 2015. The second iteration coming up this spring is sure to surpass it, in entertainment and in bringing together the diverse groups that make up this community. And bringing people together is what Jane Blanchard is all about.
Stefan Westner, of David in the Dark (with Jane) & ShiftWork
by Zach Atkinson
Heather and I became friends just before we were bandmates.
She’d just opened ReNeu Boutique which currently helps to satisfy a lot of music fans with some of the coolest indie bands traveling around Canada. The shop by day sells new and pre-worn items for guys and girls, local jewelry and products, at night it acts as a jam space for bands. I don’t think when she opened the store she realized how important it would be to Fredericton. We got to play in Slate Pacific together for about three years and since the band split, Heather hasn’t slowed down her passion for music. She learned to play drums, continued to play bass and now fronts this cool band called Laps playing guitar and singing. I remember when she was so nervous to sing back up in Slate Pacific and now she owns it as a front woman. I’m sitting here trying to list off all the bands in my head that she’s been a part of; Slate Pacific, Redwood Fields, The Shorty Tubbs, Duke Haiku?, Names & Faces, she was part of ‘Beach Babes’ all girl Beach Boys cover set, and I know there are more projects.
I know for her it’s always been about the music, supporting local artists and contributing to (without getting paid) the landscape of where young people can see and learn about new music. I think people need to realize that when they buy something from the shop, they are supporting Heather so that she can help support the music scene.’
Zach Atkinson’s time is focused managing The Capital Complex, programming/operating Shivering Songs and playing in Kill Chicago.