“I’m telling you,” Chris Maric says, “I am really tired.”

Being interviewed in a Starbucks at Westbrook Mall, while all the various shoppers, students and professionals sip cups of coffee and lattes, Maric is off caffeine for now.

“I shouldn’t have any coffee now,” he says, “if I do, I’ll never get to sleep.”

While Maric spends his days as a professional graphic designer, a husband and a father of two, he moonlights as a lover of all things art and expression. These passions are making him tired, he says. Particularly One Big Jam, a music event he founded that brings together musicians and artists to do exactly what the name entails: improvise and integrate all styles of music.

“What I think people are really drawn to, especially in recent years, is the community aspect of it,” says Maric, “and if I was going to have an ultimate goal, it would be to help create a new style of music that no one has heard before.”

Maric has spent many years inside the Calgary music scene, being a piano player himself. He also spent time as a promoter, booking shows for bands and for charities, which led to the creation of One Big Jam.

Establishing One Big Jam, which entertains 200+ people every three or four months, started from very humble beginnings. In fact, Maric would even go as far to say that it was an accident.

“I was booking a show about seven years ago, and for whatever reason, the whole gig just fell through. But the owner said the he still wanted to do a show.” This made Maric want to try something new.

“I called almost every musician friend I had and just kept asking if people wanted to come down to this place and just play some music together.” Sure enough, close to 100 people came to the show, “and that just started the ball rolling.”

Since then, One Big Jam hopped from one venue to another, with Maric always holding the reins of both the event planning and the show itself.

The most recent show was Dec. 20, 2017 at the Palace Theatre, the largest venue booked for One Big Jam yet.

“It’s chaos, but it’s curated chaos,” says Maric. Even though the event itself is a jam, and it does bring together musicians of all styles of music, Maric still directs the action on stage.

“I try to keep it from being a 20-minute long jam with the same people. You want to nurture creativity and improvisation, so I just lightly direct it in the right direction,” says Maric, “from an audience perspective, this is still a show, and I want it to still be an experience for them.”

When explaining the event to others, especially possible sponsors, Maric gets inquisitive looks.

“When I’m trying to tell someone about One Big Jam, I’m just honest,” he says, “Some people kind of perk their ears up at the idea, and some people are a little hesitant. But I tell them what it is honestly, and that has given us attention to help us get funding and partnerships.”

What started as an one-time only show for Maric quickly became something that he wanted to nurture and grow, involving more and more artists, musicians and patrons than before.

Krizia Carlos is one such patron that went from just being a fan of One Big Jam, to an actual part of Maric’s team that helps organize the event.

“The first one I went to, I was just there with some friends and I didn’t know what to expect,” says Carlos, “but as soon as the music started going, I started dancing and bringing in other people to dance, and that’s when [Maric] approached me.”

Carlos currently acts as a promoter for the event. “I just love what it does for the community, and I love what it does bringing all these people together, so I love getting to talk about it if all I have to do to promote is tell everyone how much I love the whole thing.”

Maric’s passion for the project has yet to stop growing, and his dedication has garnered the attraction of sponsors like Festival Hall, Long and McQuade and Beat Drop Music Production & DJ School.

Maric has also opened up “Method Sessions,” a group-based music education program, helping musicians of all ages and skill levels featuring some of the most established musicians in Calgary.

“I want to do something that brings the city closer together. We are a geographically large city. I always hear people say, ‘I don’t want to drive there because it’s up north,’ or wherever,” Maric says, “but this is what this is all about. We decided to take a risk and create this thing, and I want to look back, in hindsight, in 2025 or whenever, and say that Calgary created this new style of music that nobody has seen before.”

Will Cowan | wcowan@cjournal.ca

Editor: Jan Kirstyn Lopez | jlopez@cjournal.ca