Current Calgary Musicians Worth Supporting

Often misunderstood as a place merely for rodeos and oil barons, Calgary proper is a multi-cultural hotbed of astonishing tastes, sights and sounds — you just have to know where to look. Or, listen: On any given night, venues like Broken City, The Distillery or the Hifi Club pack in top local and international talent for Cowtown music lovers to enjoy. The scene is growing, but it could always use more support. If you spot one of these acts on an over-plastered posting board or a semi-discernible Facebook page, get out and support them. They’re worth it.

Ghostkeeper (pictured)
Shane Ghostkeeper and Sarah Houle grew up together in the cold of Northern Alberta. They kept their hearts warm with a love of classic blues and, later, noisy alt-rock from the likes of Pavement and Elliott Smith. This mixture of influences is represented in totality by Ghostkeeper’s grimy folk sound, which pulses with Shane Ghostkeeper’s vocals — bordering between a grizzled Delta-bluesman and a Seattle rocker. Adding Jay Crocker (guitar, vocals) and Scott Munro (bass, vocals) to the line-up filled out Ghostkeeper’s frame, and made the band’s live shows sonically inescapable. Their second album (self-titled) made the longlist for the 2010 Polaris Music Prize; likely a sign of big things still to come for this Calgary-based quartet.

The Dojo Workhorse
You’ve probably already heard of the Dojo Workhorse, because the group includes members of The Dudes (one of Calgary’s proudest musical achievements, in the league of Chad VanGaalen). In case you haven’t, just listen to one of lead singer Dan Vacon’s beer-stained love songs, and tell me they wouldn’t be the perfect accompaniment to a rowdy and roughtrod night on the town.

Rasul Syed
Spend enough time in downtown Calgary and you’ll run into Rasul Syed. A native of Montreal with Bengali roots, Syed has been hustling his mix-tapes and traversing a scattered hip-hop scene in Calgary for the past few years. The emcee uses his production talents to craft simple, punchy four-track beats akin to the golden age rap of the early-’90s. A constant collaborator with one of Calgary’s best-known rap acts, Dragon Fli Empire, Syed is definitely on the come-up. Ever friendly and humble, if you bump into this part-time street philosopher, be sure to ask him about upcomingshows, his music, or anything on your mind — guaranteed the conversation will be a good one.

The Kinjo Brothers
Catching the Kinjo Brothers live in Calgary is often not easy, as the band is quickly become an internationally traded commodity. The Kinjo’s eclectic sound fuses blues, ska, and soul, and the group is in high demand over the past couple years touring with acts like the Planet Smashers and The Plaid Tongued Devils across Europe, the U.S. and Japan (to be fair, their father is a native of Okinawa).

Michael Bernard Fitzgerald
MBF (as he’s known to those in the know) has a creative vibe that mashes vocal synthesizers, keyboards and sing-songy hooks into a punchbowl from whence he serves up hipster folk-tales. Confident in his sound but with a self-deprecating on-stage demeanor, Fitzgerald always delivers shows that are heavy on both crowd interaction and spontaneous jam sessions.


Image courtesy of Rick Chung.

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