Two local women hope to expand the Calgary music community by showcasing emerging Alberta musicians

There has been a long running rivalry between the cities of Calgary and Edmonton. The battle seems to be about which city is nicer to live in or who has the better NHL hockey team.

Calgarians Sarah Erickson and Janel Nickel are hoping to diminish the rivalry by connecting the cities through the power of music.

The two friends are the creators of the newly formed production company, Sparrow Tree Productions. Their aim is to help build the music scene in Calgary by promoting musicians on a provincial scale.

Erickson and Nickel were inspired to create Sparrow Tree Productions after holding their first event, Autumn Apex, this past October. The music event was a fundraiser for the non-profit World Fit for Children — an organization that focuses on helping children in developing nations through tools such as education, medical aid and water sanitation. Through the sale of cheap beer, homemade baking and five shows played by Calgary and Edmonton musicians, over $2,500 was raised through Autumn Apex.

The morning after Autumn Apex, once all the money had been tallied, the two friends stood in Erickson’s apartment hallway, sobbing joyfully. Erickson said the fundraiser was such an overwhelming positive experience, and helped to reiterate the power of music, community and connection.Janel Nickel and Sarah Erickson hope to impact the Calgary music scene by giving Alberta musicians the chance to perform events together.

Photo Courtesy of Glenn Kelly

It was the success of their first event that helped them to realize that they really could turn their love for people and music into something more than a hobby. Some people knit scarves, others scrapbook. Erickson and Nickel choose music.

“Janel and I are both music freaks. Music is the greatest thing in my life,” Erickson said.

Sparrow Tree Productions hopes to support new artists by giving them the opportunity to play venues with other artists who may be better known to the music community. They make the promise that at every event they host; there will always be musicians from outside of Calgary, especially those from Edmonton.

Erickson has been a volunteer and attendee at the Calgary and Edmonton Folk Music Festivals for over three years. It is through these connections that Sparrow Tree Productions hopes to bind the two cities together.

For now, Erickson and Nickel will rely solely on volunteers to turn their production dreams into a reality. They say that the amount of help and support that people have given them is astounding.

They both feel that it is important to give people a reason to volunteer. Sparrow Tree Productions plans on doing this by providing drinks, food and most importantly, a memorable experience to their volunteers. Erickson notes the most important thing she and Nickel aspire to achieve is a positive experience for their volunteers, musicians and all who participate in their events.

Nicole Heddema volunteered for the pair at their Autumn Apex event. She said although she was shocked at how much money was raised, it wasn’t a surprise as to how successful the event was. She has no doubt that Sparrow Tree Productions will become a force in the community, not because of their savvy business skills but because of the sincere people they are.

“I think they both have really big hearts, you can really see the passion they have,” said Heddema.

The first official event held by Sparrow Tree Productions will be on Jan. 21 at The Area, located at 1119 10th Ave. S.E in Inglewood. “Winter Retreat” will showcase three local bands: The Mountaineer, No River and Projects. 100 Mile House and Scenic Route to Alaska, both from Edmonton, will also be joining the roster as well. Erickson and Nickel say the aim of the event is to make you feel as though you are in your very own living room, surrounded by those who are looking to escape the winter cold and soak in musical talent.

“I think they both have really big hearts, you can really see the passion they have.”

— Nicole Heddema, a volunteer form the Autumn Apex event.

All senses will be attended to during the event; guests can quench their thirst with an array of toasty warm drinks and can fill their bellies from a buffet for just $10. There will also be art hanging on the walls to admire and purchase. Tickets can be picked up from Divine, located at 720-17 Ave SW for $15. They can also be purchased at the door for $18 or $15 with a donation to the Calgary Food Bank. Doors open at 5 p.m.

Sparrow Tree Productions is hoping to host another event for World Fit for Children in the springtime. If possible, they plan to expand the event into a two-day festival that will bring people together through the camaraderie of music and charity. As Erickson so perfectly put it, “music is the connector.”

tolson@cjournal.ca