Live music comes home again as Calgary’s Music Mile venues reopen for Friday Night events

Live from Music Mile … it’s music. Live music.

Finally. The sounds of summer are a little more muted this year, but they’re slowly returning to Calgary venues, including the Music Mile, which is the stretch of the city along 9th Ave. S.E. through the Inglewood neighbourhood that houses many bars, breweries and clubs that host local acts and artists.

The return is helped in part by the new Live From Music Mile: It’s Friday Night! initiative — or It’s Friday Night!, for short — which is a collaboration between Calgary Arts Development and the folks behind Music Mile.

Before the first night of the event, Friday, Feb. 3, theYYSCENE spoke with Emma Stevens, coordinator for Live from Music Mile: It’s Friday Night! to get the scoop on the what, why, when, where, how and who behind it.

What is it?

It’s a way of getting artists back to work, in clubs that want to open, for people that want to experience it, either in their venue of choice or online from the safety of their own homes.

“We’re going to have events for people who want to participate in person,” Stevens says, “and we’re also going to have an online component.”

For the entire evening, bands will be playing in five open venues throughout the Mile, with 45 minutes from each being streamed live. 

Ultimately, though, it’s live music that can be experienced however you want it and whenever you want it.


You know how your parents and teachers told you there are no stupid questions? That’s a stupid fucking question.

Let’s start with what COVID closures did and who they affected. And the need to help all of them. The list is long — club owners, servers, cooks, musicians, suppliers, soundpeople, music lovers and so many others.

“We’re looking for ways to bring live music back to live music venues, post pandemic,” Stevens says. “For some context, usually at this time of year (Stampede, summer, etc.) venues would be packed and artists would be in them. It’s very different this year. So, we’re trying to bring people back and reinvigorate that spirit of the Mile and to get artists playing again.”


As Stevens says, you can experience it however you’re most comfortable.

“Some venues are re-opening, and everyone is tackling COVID a little bit differently,” she says, explaining that regulations are still at play. “Some of them are only doing instrumental and some have built Plexiglas booths on their stages for vocalists (including the Ironwood and now The Blues Can), so they’ll be able to have vocalists.”

For those who don’t want to venture out and experience it with all of the senses, you can get the 2-D treatment when you dial up Music Mile’s website and their Facebook page.


If it’s online you want, Live from Music Mile: It’s Friday Night! streams Fridays from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. with the following locales and times set(ish) in stone: King Eddy at 6 p.m., Without Papers at 7 p.m., Ironwood at 8 p.m., Hose & Hound at 9 p.m., and The Blues Can at 10 p.m

But, with the in-person option, that varies.

“Each will have different showtimes,” Stevens says. “The Ironwood, for example, is going to be a four- or five hour show starting at 8 p.m. whereas the King Eddy is going to have just a 45-minute set that we’re going to be streaming …

“We’re providing that in-person experience, yet each of those shows is (booked) by the venues. They know their crowds best … and they’re managing the logistics for the event and all of that.”


Physically, there are five venues that will be showcased every week throughout the summer (and beyond?) run of Friday Night!, with it being 25 rooms in total already in the queue. On night No. 1, though, as mentioned above, that’s Inglewood music anchor the Ironwood, as well as King Eddy, The Blues Can, Hose and Hound, and Without Papers.

“All of those are doing in-person audiences except for Without Papers and they’re playing a show out their window, so it will be largely on the street,” Stevens says, while also noting that they’re not the only game on the Mile or around the city.

“That’s not to say venues aren’t hosting music at other times, or other venues aren’t also doing music on Fridays.”

Again, if you’re still not ready to experience live music live, then there is the keyboard-and-screen option available. (See the How section.)

Oh, and it should also be noted that as each room is in charge of their own programming, they’re also in charge of their own doors, with it being free to stream 45 minutes from each club, but some, like the Ironwood, have an entire evening going on, with a cover charge required and reservations recommended. Call ahead.


We’ve talked about the who behind the scene, but it’s who will be on the stage or stream that people want to know about.

If you’re dialling it up or heading to the venues, opening night of Friday Night! features: at the Eddy is an instrumental performance by western act The Chili King & the Smokehouse Swingers; Kirst Exploration is at the window of Without Papers; Ironwood has a night of local legend Tom Phillips with Kit Johnson and Tim Leacock; Hose and Hound has stunning scene stalwart Amy Hef; and headlining over at the Can is Red Deer songwriter Charlie Jacobson.

Call each venue ahead of time, double-check for cover charges and/or reservations, and find out all of the acts on the bill.

But does it matter?

Does it really matter?

It’s local. It’s live. It’s Friday night.


And stay tuned for much more.