Name that tune—er, I mean province


Black Mountain at the inaugural Pemberton Festival. Photo by myself.

Black Mountain at the inaugural Pemberton Festival. Photo by myself.

Boy, that’s a loaded term. 

But it’s nothing music can’t explain. 

You see, today I stumbled upon a neat Canadian indie music blog called It seems the fine folks over there are currently working on a feature called The Great Canadian Mixtape Project. The premise is to showcase independent music emerging from each province.

However, I think they’ve also created a little experiment. 

Music and the arts in general can reflect and promote identity, and in this case, a regional identity. That being said, by looking at the genres of indie music emerging from each province, we can see that our big ol’ country has taken on a number of mini identities.

Take Alberta for example: the land of wheat fields, oil money, big malls and juicy cattle. It’s also my home province (go Edmonton!). Despite all efforts to maintain a healthy mix of folk, country, electronica, rock, rap and whatnot, Alberta’s mixtape consists largely of urban/rural fusion genres such as alt-country and folk-rock. Artists like Corb Lund, Ayla Brook, Mark Davis and Jane Vain & The Dark Matter fit those categories.

The majority of Saskatchewan‘s artists produces music in similar genres to Alberta’s, although a lot more on the electric-roots side of the spectrum. It seems desolation has a sound, and it’s not silence. It’s whiskey, frigid winters and (frozen) tears. 

Then there’s Ontario. The home of indie rock, folk rock and a lot of rock in general by artists like Born Ruffians, The D’Urbervilles and Jason Collett. All thanks to Ontario’s large metropolitan centers.

And if we turn to the East Coast, Nova Scotia is a haven for bubbly, introspective singer-songwriter types like Jenn Grant, Rebekah Higgs and Daniel Ledwell. Perhaps solitary sailboat trips out onto the foamy ocean have something to do with it?  

In the end, it’s interesting to see how Canada’s sprawling geography has bred such distinct cultural centers, and how grassroots music has become a means of communicating those identities.

Music is just one of the many art forms that can bring together all aspects of a region’s identity and wrap it up in one melodically symbolic package.

And my identity, you ask? It comes in the form of country music: foot-stomping, pedal-steel tunes run through my veins while cattle beef lines my bones and oil money puts me through school. However, I’ve found my time spent here in Vancouver is slowly changing my tastes. I seem to be opting for mellower, more brightly-colored music these days. hasn’t had a chance to stumble over the mountains yet, so I thought I’d name a few artists who deserve to have a spot on the B.C. mixtape. 

Let’s see how many I get right.

1. Black Mountain
2. Steve Dawson
3. Bend Sinister 
4. Jody Glenham
5. A.C. Newman
6. Geoff Berner
7. Brasstronaut
8. You Say Party! We Say Die!
9. Twin Crystals
10. Jon-Rae Fletcher


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