It is no secret Lethbridge has an amazing music scene, and it has for a long time.
So the Galt Museum attempts to chronicle the scene from Blackfoot drumming back in the day to local music today in their new exhibit From Pianos to Power Chords, which runs Feb. 4 to April 30.
“This was a really cool opportunity to tell the stories of this great scene and it’s importance to the community,” said curator Tyler Stewart, who also plays in local bands Sparkle Blood and A Trozzo and the Electric Few.
“Lethbridge punches well above it’s weight for a city of 100,000 people,” Stewart said.
“It clearly shows where we are and where we’ve got to and how we’ve evolved,” Stewart said.
The exhibit begins chronologically with a panel on the contributions of the Blackfoot people to music. Another panel touches on turn of the century NWMP and police bands. The exhibit also includes a case dedicated to Second World War POW camp bands featuring an accordion as well as a flugelhorn bugle which were among the instruments auctioned off to the public when the camp closed.
Another section chronicles the technology people used to listen to music. Another case featuring Lethbridge’s oldest radio station CJOC includes one of their early mixing boards as well as photos of some of the original DJs.
“CJOC was and is an important part of the community,” Stewart said.
“Some of the people no longer play or are in different bands or just moved away,” Stewart continued, adding public input was an integral part of the exhibit, especially for the band chart as well as the venues display.
Another case focuses on a piece on classical music in Lethbridge features a piano and a panel dedicated to promoter Ron Sakamoto. A wall next to the exit features some of Lethbridge’s popular music venues and another wall charts the members of local bands past and present going back to the early ’90s.
“That was the most time consuming part of the exhibit. But it was worth it,” Stewart said.
Local cartoonist Eric Dyck designed the lettering for that part of the exhibit as well as the evolution of music technology.
“I put out a call in May for information about bands,” he said, adding public consultation also helped determine which venues to feature. Approximately 150 people responded on social media.
“ I was impressed to see the level off engagement from people, so I feel privileged to bring their stories to life in this exhibition,” he said.
He consulted Pikanii elder and musician Ira Provost for information about First Nations contributions to Southern Alberta music.
“ I was impressed by the interest and the level of investment from people in the community interested in sharing their stories,” he said.
Even University of Lethbridge radio station CKXU 88.3 f.m. has a kiosk dedicated to their collaboration with the Lethbridge Public Library which is in a side room also featuring an interactive display where you can try your hand at playing drums and keyboards which is accompanied by individual panels about prominent Lethbridge musicians like Leeroy Stagger and Corb Lund.
Though he has been playing in local bands for eight years, that isn’t why he started working on the exhibit.
“ I developed it from a project I was working on for the National Music Centre in Calgary. I decided instead of just doing an overview of Canadian music, I’d focus on a smaller, regional scene and local music, which, though smaller, is really quite impressive. There are a lot of amazing stories,” he continued.
“I hope that people will take away the impression that is important for people to not take this scene for granted and to participate,” Stewart said.
From Pianos to Power Chords runs from Feb. 4 to April 30, 2017 at the Galt Museum. The opening reception was Feb. 5.