With a history of openly welcoming musicians of all genres from near and far to perform on its iconic Casat Deck stage, the Ironwood Stage & Grill has earned a reputation as the heart of Calgary’s live music scene. Typically, the Ironwood presents live music seven nights a week and more than 400 shows a year—but this year is looking a little different.
Alongside other live music venues in Alberta, the Ironwood shuttered its windows and was closed to the public for 95 days in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. The Ironwood re-opened in June as part of Phase 2 in the Provincial Government Relaunch Strategy and took an innovative approach by creating a plexiglass room (dubbed “the aquarium” by venue owner Pat MacIntyre) to accommodate vocalists and wind instruments. However, capacity restrictions placed a strain on the venue and the Ironwood’s financial situation became increasingly dire.
In response to rising concerns about the Ironwood’s future, Jory Kinjo, a musician and pillar in the local music scene, organized a fundraiser to help save the music venue. Jory rallied a stellar lineup of artists to perform at three shows August 21 - 22. After the event was publicly announced, tickets swiftly sold out and the community responded with an outpour of support.
“I can’t say enough about how much it’s opened my eyes as to how supportive the community is of live music and what it means to them.” said MacIntyre. “I really can’t thank Jory Kinjo enough for spearheading this project and all of the bands playing. I’m completely humbled by the whole experience.”
At Stagehand, we were proud to have contributed by livestreaming the performances, making the shows accessible to those who could not attend in person. More than 5,000 people tuned in online and voiced their love for the Ironwood from across Canada and around the world.
The Ironwood expressed its gratitude stating in a press release that “the event will go down in history as a weekend filled with incredible love and unprecedented generosity and kindness”.
While the BANDing Together fundraiser was a success in assisting the Ironwood, the event organizers recognize that other independently-owned live music venues in Calgary are still struggling. As a result, the sequel fundraiser running September 18 - 20 at the Ironwood Stage & Grill is in support of other music venues in Calgary including The Blues Can, Broken City, Dicken's Pub, Mikey's on 12th Ave, and Vern's as well as the Music Mile. Once again, our team at Stagehand will be livestreaming all three shows and a link to online donations will be provided.
The pandemic still poses intense challenges to the live music industry, but community events like BANDing Together validate the need for local live music. In celebration of Calgary’s music community, we’ve created a playlist to recognize the musicians who donated their time and talent to make these events happen. Listen to the playlist on Spotify or Apple Music to get excited for the upcoming shows or to reminisce about the past ones.