A FREE FEAST OF ALT-COUNTRY IN THE HEART OF CALGARY
Returning for its sixth year in the heart of downtown Calgary comes the legendary, the thrilling, infamous Spaghetti Western Festival. From the rubble of Stampede’s eight-dollar Buds and burnt straw cowboy hats, Matt Masters has built a much-needed castle of great country music. When I say country music, I’m not talking about the ways in which one could save a horse — no, I’m talking about all the incredibly diverse and beautiful world of alt-country. The festival is like the alt-country family sitting down for dinner together, with Masters cooking for a beautiful table at Olympic Plaza (with a dessert course served up at Palomino for the after-party). All in all, the festival promises to deliver its greatest year yet with more music, more events and more support from the community then ever.
From the many different flavours of alt-country, Masters serves up a feast that has something for everyone. This year’s headliner, Ridley Bent, defines the genre. Initially launching his music career as a hip hop artist, a winding road led Bent to the sweet Southern sounds of country, which he’s been humming ever since. Bent’s unlikely roots give him a unique sound that’s family-friendly with enough tongue in cheek to keep the whiskey wagon rolling. When asking Masters why he doesn’t perform and headline a festival he’s responsible for creating, this humble soul deflects by saying, “I don’t want this to be the Matt Masters festival.” But, good news everyone, you’ll still have a chance to hear Masters MC the festival as well as do a opening set to kick things off. With artists such as Ridley Bent, Leeroy Stagger, Leela Gilday, Animal Parts and Buzz Elroy adding their original flavours to this feast of music and culture, only a few components remain to complete a perfect festival.
What does it take to put on free shows at multiple venues over the course of seven days while adequately compensating the artists? “Without [sponsors] there is no festival,” explains Masters. Of course, but my response has to be, how did you get such great sponsors? The City of Calgary and the Bow Valley Music Club are the flagship supporters of the Spaghetti Western Festival. Both focused on fostering music and culture in this fair city, these entities join a lengthy list of adamant supporters from the business community.
With a cook in the curating kitchen and a table set by great sponsors what comes next? Location.
From childhood visits to my grandparents’ farm, I’ve tried to purge the memory of getting locked in the basement with racoons and getting kicked in the mouth by a horse named Sailor. However, I fondly recall roast ham and strawberry-rhubarb pie on the deck over looking the fields. It’s all about location.
This year’s Spaghetti Western Festival gets to lay its spread across some of Calgary’s greatest locations. New this year, Eighth Avenue will host artists during lunch hours in the week leading up to the festival. This tempting taste will culminate into the kick off pre-party at Wine-Ohs on Friday, August 16th. The weekend invites everyone down for a “party in the park” as Olympic Plaza hosts the main event. The after-party will be jam-packed into the Palomino for an all-guns-blazing show that marks the end of the festival.
Masters is running the kitchen, the table’s set and the guests are about to arrive. The sixth annual Spaghetti Western Festival is ready to serve you all the flavours that alt-country music can encompass. So get out for the lunchtime performances, book the weekend off and prepare your eyes and ears for one of the greatest free events Calgary has to offer.
The Spaghetti Western Festival will take place on August 17 at Olympic Plaza and the Palomino. A kick-off show will take place on August 16 at Wine-Ohs and several daytime events in the week leading up to the festival will take place on Stephen Avenue.
By Sean HamiltonAB, Alberta