Scott Strasser

CJSW launches new project aiming to document Calgary’s rich musical history

By Jason Herring, February 2 2016 —

Campus radio station CJSW 90.9 FM recently announced their Calgary Local Music Library project, which aims to compile an aural and visual history of Calgary music. The traveling installation will tour around Calgary Public Library branches.

CJSW is searching for donations of CDs, posters, photographs and other paraphernalia from the local music community for the project.The installation is funded through a $30,000 Calgary Foundation grant to CJSW and the Calgary Public Library. According to project coordinator Kerry Maguire, the traveling library will take a few months to complete.

“We’re in our initial stages right now, collecting as many CDs as we possibly can. Then we’re building a shelf that will hold about 300 CDs. We’re trying to tell the story of local music in Calgary through these CDs, so we’re going to try to have stuff over 30+ years, but we’re currently in the collecting phase,” Maguire says. “The biggest thing we’re doing right now is reaching out to musicians and bands and labels in Calgary to get them to donate their music to us.”

The project coincides with what many, including Tourism Calgary and the Calgary Herald, are calling the city’s “Year of Music.” Maguire thinks the project’s timing is perfect.

“I think it’s the perfect storm with the Juno Awards happening this year, there’s a lot of music related events,” she says. “There’s so many things going on. I think it’s great for the project because it’s easy to see all the great things happening for music and a great opportunity to show people where that’s come from.”

As Calgary gains a reputation for its strong musical scene, the project gives those involved in local music an opportunity to reflect on the scene’s growth. Maguire believes the city has flourished for years, even though it only recently became recognized by outsiders.

“We’ve always had a really strong music scene, but now I think it’s starting to reach further and further into the world,” Maguire says. “Like any music scene, it really fluctuates with genres and venues, so it has more strength at different times. Internationally, we’re emerging. But locally, we’ve always had an awesome scene.”

When the project is finished, a moving installation of CDs will travel through eight different Calgary Public Library branches, with contents available to anyone with a library card. But the exhibition will be much more than a shelf of CDs — there are plans to include multimedia elements, like photographs, posters and listening stations so people can hear music before they bring it home.

“We’re even going to work in bands we won’t be able to include by having informational stickers on CDs that say, ‘if you like this band, check out these bands.’ And the bands may not even be in the library, but they’ll help people find them on their own,” Maguire says.

There will likely be many artists who won’t make their way into the collection — with only 300 slots available, Maguire knows she, along with local music mainstay and project collaborator Chris Dadge, will have a tough task narrowing down the library.

“We’re gonna make sure of a few things — we want it to be comprehensive, we want to cover a lot of genres and we want it to be inclusive,” she says. “Unfortunately we have a limited amount of space and we don’t want it to be overwhelming for people who may never have listened to a local band and have to deal with 1,000 CDs.”

CJSW hopes to launch the Calgary Local Music Library project in May. They are now taking submissions for the project.

For more information, visit localmusiclibrary.tumblr.com.

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