CJSW 90.9 WITH A BULLET CD RELEASE
Featuring Falconhawk, Chris Vail, Pussy Monster, Andrew Wedderburn and The A Team
Wednesday, June 15
Ship & Anchor
When asked if collecting 20 years of Calgary music for a compilation CD was fun, CJSWs Adele Brunnhofer offers this response:
"Yes," she says, before pausing to reconsider. "No," she says, bursting into laughter. Apparently when she took on the project, she didnt know it was a near impossible task.
Its fair to say that despite her boundless enthusiasm, the 20-year-old volunteer at CJSW was pretty green when she accepted the challenge of planning one of the stations 20th anniversary projects, 90.9 With A Bullet, a two-disc compilation released on Saved by Radio records chronicling the past two decades of local rock.
Brunnhofer is only as old as the station itself, so the process of digging into local music history was a massive learning experience. Take, for example, when she learned that mid 90s hip-hoppers The A-Team were actually named for a TV show. "I thought it was because Andy Sparacinos (lead singer of the A-Team) name starts with an A," she says. "Now I know why Mr. Ts famous."
The idea of a local music compilation has been bouncing around the CJSW offices for a while. "Weve been playing local indie music on our radio station for 20 years stuff youd never hear on any other station in town," says Brunnhofer. With the station celebrating its 20th year on the FM dial this year, the timing seemed right.
Brunnhofer says that in the planning stages, a core group of music lovers met to discuss the project. Calling in the help of record label owners, station volunteers, music promoters and long-standing members of the Calgary music scene, a massive amount of Calgary talent was narrowed to 28 bands, all of whom have a quintessentially Calgarian sound.
In rough chronological order, the first disc spans from 1985 into the early 90s with disc two continuing through to the present day. Brunnhofer says that reaching consensus on specific tracks wasnt easy, but there were some songs that almost forced their way on. Disc one includes such "hits" as "Confessions" by Pussy Monster, "Sacred Valley Penetration" by Color Me Psycho and "Shank Pony" by Fire Engine Red, but it was "Kristara Barrington" by Zoo Story that was the no-brainer.
"Everyone agreed that the CD should start with Zoo Storys Kristara Barrington," says Brunnhofer, "because Kristara Barrington was like the Mendoza Line of the 80s and Zoo Story were like The Dudes of the 80s."
Including something from The Primrods, who kick off disc two, was another easy pick, says Brunnhofer. "You couldnt have 20 years of Calgary music and not put The Primrods on it. Thats like a landmark for this city. Its more important than any dignitary coming to town and getting a white hat. Or the Calgary Tower. Or the Queen coming. Or anything. The Primrods are more important."
Following the Primrods lead, disc two is full of names which may be more recognizable Falconhawk, Hot Little Rocket, Chad Van Gaalen, Shecky Forme and one of the few Calgary bands to take on the world and win Huevos Rancheros.
Brent Cooper, former guitarist of Huevos Rancheros, has grown up part of the Calgary music scene and as a result he appears no less than three times on 90.9 With a Bullet. "Rocket to Nowhere" by Huevos Rancheros is a classic, but the comp also holds "Take You Down" by the Gravity Thugs and "The Empty Cabinet" by The Will which features Cooper at age 15.
"I guess The Will was my first foray into making anything like a real product," says Cooper who has yet to hear the compilation. "It will probably bring back a lot of bad memories, but I think it might be good to do that."
Among all those memories (good or bad) from the Calgary music scene are Coopers recollections of the support given to him and his bands from CJSW.
"Theyve never turned their back on anything Ive ever done," he says.
"I remember running into the station, taking fresh Huevos Rancheros tapes to the music director at the time, Kerry Clarke, and saying, We just recorded these in our basement.
"And theyd play it."
Cooper says the Calgary music scene continues to be, for the most part, pretty healthy. "To compare it to Vancouver and Toronto, I think Calgary has been less willing to eat its young," he says.
Eyebrows will undoubtedly be raised by some of the notable omissions, but selecting only 28 bands from the last two decades is like trying to get all the water from the Bow River to fit into the Elbow.
"Even though theres 28 bands on the CD, we contacted at least 100 bands. And there were 100 more we would have liked to have on it," says Brunnhofer.
As it turns out, talent wasnt the only consideration when it came time to make the track listings co-operation had just as much to do with it.
"There were a lot of things these bands needed to do to be on the CD," says Brunnhofer. "There were some long communication struggles trying to get in contact with people. Not everybody got back to us. Even some of our favourite bands never got back to us," she says, with a hint of lingering frustration.
Even without those bands, 90.9 With A Bullet is a quaint but extraordinary record (no pun intended) of the evolving relationship between CJSW and local musicians that started 20 years ago and is now as strong as ever.
"Calgary may seem like a small scene," says Brunnhofer. "But when you look back there are truly hundreds of bands that youll fall in love with, but I hope everybody loves the disc and likes some of the bands theyve never heard before."