Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Edmonton will be filled with the sound of music this weekend with the upcoming Purple City Music Festival taking place at nine locations throughout the city from Aug. 26 to Aug. 28 with more than 80 performers.
It is officially the first year for the festival that was born from the former Up and Downtown Music Festival, explained Ryan Rathjen, executive director of the event.
“When we were looking at new branding… we were thinking of something that would be more city wide and something that just spoke to Edmonton. And the purple city leg (legislature) thing was just like a bit of Edmonton folklore … So it all made sense. It was a natural fit,” he said.
Purple city is a story told by many who grew up in the area dating back to the 1970s. The belief was that, if at night you looked into the flood lights around the legislature grounds for about a minute, when you looked back up everything was purple.
This year, organizers want to take the festival to the grassroots and create spaces conducive to a youth audience. There are also a couple of the locations where children are welcome to attend.
“We are working on trying to be able to be a place where kids can see cool new music,” Rathjen said, adding Hawrelak Park has two stages open during the event and youth will be able to watch several of the big name bands there.
One of the bands performing at the event is Blue Moon Marquee.
The duo consists of Alberta-born A.W. Cardinal (Métis/Cree) and Jasmine Colette, A.K.A. Badlands Jass. Cardinal grew up in the area of Rocky Mountain House and Colette in the Badlands, but the two met many years ago when they were part of the central Alberta music scene, playing in punk and rock bands.
“We’ve been playing music ever since we can remember,” said Cardinal. “We are from central Alberta and the music scene is pretty small there, so we knew each other when I was like 15. We had a whole career of different styles of music and came together, I guess, about eight years ago now and have been playing together ever since.”
They both left home at young ages and spent years traveling on their own, working at a variety of jobs and touring with different acts. Colette hitchhiked throughout North America performing vaudeville with her act of hula hooping, skateboarding, and playing trombone simultaneously, while Cardinal was living in New York City working as a bike mechanic and performing at open mics each night.
They came together in Vancouver to record Cardinal's original material for his album, Stainless Steel Heart.
The two have created a unique sound that can’t really be classified in one genre but rather “really pays homage to the origins of blues” explained Rathjen. The duo, who write and perform original compositions, are influenced by anything that swings, jumps or grooves, reads a press statement.
Cardinal said some of his original lyrics have connections to his Métis/Cree heritage and are grounded in the stories he has heard from Elders and his family. These include stories about trickster coyote and the black snake, he said,
“Using them in my writing and maybe putting a different spin on it, but still having the same meaning,” he said.
“It’s something that is a part of me and has been in my existence ever since I was a child. I used to go to powwows when growing up…It’s part of me. It’s my culture and I express stories through the style of music that I love, which is blues and jazz music.”
Cardinal was nominated in 2020 for Indigenous Songwriter of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards for the album Bare Knuckles and Brawn.
On Sept. 9, the duo will release their newest album titled Scream, Holler & Howl.
The uniqueness of Blue Moon Marquee isn’t just in their lyrics. Another truly creative side is their ability to play a number of instruments simultaneously.
“It’s a really great performance with them being able to pull it off with the whole entire rhythm section and guitars… with Jasmine playing stand up bass and drums at the same time. It’s a pretty unique show,” added Rathjen.
Collette said they often incorporate other artists into their show as well.
“Often, it’s just the two of us, but then it depends on the show. We often play with other players as well, but the core of it is the two of us.
“For Purple City we will be playing as a trio with a piano player.” She said it brings diversity and a dynamic to the set when there are different instruments.
“It adds different colors and tones to the songs.”
For tickets and the complete line-up of musical acts scheduled for Purple City, go to Purple City Music Festival (purplecityfest.com)
To listen to some of what Blue Moon Marquee is all about, head to Blue Moon Marquee where their new single “Hound Dog on a Chain” is now available.
If you can’t make it to Edmonton, the tour will continue on Sept. 9 at the Old Church Theatre in Trenton, Ont. and Sept. 10 at Southside Shuffle in Mississauga, Ont. Then it’s over to Tofino Nov. 26 and Nov. 27 at Lil Ronnies.
On March 12, 2023 Blue Moon Marquee will appear at the Pender Harbour Blues Festival in BC and then back to Alberta on April 5, 2023 at the DaysArts Club in Daysland, and on April 6, 2023 at the Olds Kiwanis Club in Olds.
Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.