by Jay Allen (CFCR Program Director, Host of Pirate Radio (alternating Thursdays, 7:30-9pm))

Yet another Sled Island Music & Arts Festival has come and gone in Calgary, AB, and with it another outstanding CFCR Showcase of bands from Saskatoon. In the current music landscape, Sled continues to stand out at the forefront of festivals in western-Canada and beyond, booking a mixture of crowd favourites, along with emerging artists on the verge of popularity (I'm sure many artists can credit their appearances at Sled Island with various degress of their success), and lots of bands from the prairies and the west in general. 

While I may not quite have as much steam to be constantly on the go, filling absolutely every waking moment with music these days, I managed to pack in quite a bit of stuff into the weekend. CFCR Music Director AVL and I had the distinct pleasure of an afernoon with Chad Saunders, the Director of Operations and Special Projects at the National Music Centre (and former Program Director & Station Manager at CJSW radio at the University of Calgary. He's the guy who gave me the "Jay of Spades" moniker back in 1998!). We had lunch at the King Eddy (featuring one of the best spicy chicken sandwiches I've ever had!), an historic blues venue that was meticulously disassembled and reassembled brick-by-brick as part of the impressive Studio Bell building, which is home to the NMC. The afternoon was highlighted by a private visit with TONTO (The Original New Timbral Orchestra)the world's first and largest multitimbral polyphonic analog synthesizer. This one-of-a-kind machine is awe-inspiring to say the least.

I also had the chance to take part in a panel on the topic of Community Radio, along with some colleagues from various stations in western-Canada. There's nothing like chatting with artists, as well as other folks in the non-profit radio game, to find a real sense of community in what we're all trying do.

Now, as for music, there were several highlights, including Osees (aka Thee Oh Sees, aka OCS, etc.), who put on a blazing and frustration-charged set (singer Jon Dwyer's vocal monitor was malfunctioning for most of the show), and legendary cosmic-jazz collective The Sun Ra Arkestra, who even 30-years after the passing of their namesake band leader, dazzled a packed-house at the Central United Church. As always with Sled, there were a couple of new-to-me discoveries, including Brooklyn's Gustaf (endorsed by Osees' Jon Dwyer, who I enjoyed so much I didn't get any photos of!), and Montreal band The Wesleys. And of course, the icing on the Sled cake was the always amazing Showcase of Saskatoon bands that CFCR has presented at the Fest every yaer since 2011. This year's bands included Grey Light District, Chunder Buffet, Soul Mates, and Grimelda. Seeing a room full of festival-goers bugging out to bands from Saskatoon always leaves me with such a great feeling about the music scene in our city. Big thanks to the host venue, The Palomino, for their great hospitality once again (it was our second year there), and to SaskMusic for their contining support of this project! I also got to check out other SK faves Shirley & The Pyramids and Snake River, who were both great as always. 

Sun Ra Arkestra












Big Evil Rat

The Wesleys


Shirley & The Pyramids



Grey Light District

Chunder Buffet

Soul Mates


Snake River


Well Sled, you've done it again. See you next year!


(c) 2023