When Cecil Frena returns home from GOBBLE GOBBLE's months-long infinitour to play Aaron Levin's GOBBLE FEST this Saturday, it will mark a collaboration of two of the most important people in Edmonton's music scene in the past few years. And not because they both happen to be in pretty good bands.
As one half of the Push Pins booking team, Frena was instrumental in the creation of the Hydeaway All Ages Art Space, as well as being responsible for countless other shows for Edmonton's young up-and-comers and smaller travelling acts. GOBBLE FEST will be the third such night-long musical festival Levin has produced—along with Wyrd Fest and Wyrd Alberta—bringing together outre Edmonton bands and esoteric outsiders we might not otherwise get to see (in addition to his fine work on Weird Canada).
I'm singling this pair out, but in truth they are two of a small cadre of independent promoters that are the key to the future of Edmonton's music scene. The major promoters, of course, ensure we can see those big touring acts everyone loves, but without the folks booking the halls, dives, basements and soon-to-be-shuttered illegal venues that give bands a chance to find their legs, the idea of local music wouldn't even exist around here. And for that their reward is usually only getting to see a great show and making sure the space is clean after it.
These kinds of folks are the lifeblood of any scene, but their importance is acute here in Edmonton, with our relative lack of touring bands, strange melange of venues and general reticence to put locals on big bills. I am of the opinion that Edmonton music is on the cusp of a minor renaissance, and every single one of those bands wouldn't be able to do the incredible stuff they've done and soon will do without the indie promoters.
Most of them realize this, of course, but all too often the audiences at the show ignore the people behind it. They do more than anyone to make sure we can have bands to call our own, though, so consider this a small bit of the greater recognition they unquestionably deserve. V