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Courtesy The Alley Shadows

The Alley Shadows hope to shake up Calgary’s jazz scene with first gig

By Gurman Sahota, October 18 2016 —

Evan Cribb, Evan Petkau, Gus Moberg and Ben Put were once known as Gus Moberg and The Alley Shadows before becoming The Alley Shadows over the summer.

The Alley Shadows will play their first show at the Kawa Espresso bar on 8th Street on Oct. 28.

The jazz band features a variety of backgrounds and international influences. According to the band,  they are just a group of guys who make music together.

Band founder and guitarist Moberg evolved the band into a more collaborative experience.

“I just wanted to play, so I put together my own band and we had one gig under the name Gus Moberg and the Alley Shadows,” he says. “We didn’t do anything until the [Kawa performance] came along with a new drummer and a little bit of a different vibe. We decided it’s not just my band anymore so we became just The Alley Shadows.”

The band says this way they are more open to collaboration.

“It’s a cool opportunity for musicians to just do what they want and [Cribb has] come up with some challenging material,” Petkau, the band’s drummer says. “We’ve opened it up so that anyone can bring any music so you’re never sure what to expect.”

The atmosphere of the venue plays a part in how the band hopes their performance will affect audiences.

“[Kawa] has created an interesting audience and I think people attend these things [because] they know there will be good music. The customers are expecting music to be there. Their expectations stop [at] what type of music [will be played],” bassist Put says, “You can push the limits of style without worrying about how people will respond.”

Although Kawa Espresso Bar is a relatively small venue, the band says it is one of the best places for up-and-coming musicians to play. Moberg says owner Les Jaworski prioritizes providing good music for his patrons without undermining musicians.

“It is one the best places in town when it comes to treating musicians well,” Moberg says. “They try to pay as much as they can, they never try to screw you over and they want music.”

The band’s interest in jazz is telling considering the genre isn’t often seen in the modern mainstream. While jazz music evolved in the ‘70s, the band says the expansion of rock music meant that jazz could not compete in popularity with other genres.

“The real reason [jazz] died was this bad attitude instead of just embracing what is new and saying all this old stuff is important too,” Cribb says. “They [rejected] new stuff and jazz became this weird academic thing full of old angry men. That makes it unapproachable. If you keep saying the music you listen to is impoverished and [jazz] isn’t, then why would you go and try to listen to it?”

While taking influence from bands like Queen, The Alley Shadows attempt to be versatile in types of music they play.

“As long as you do it convincingly, you can get away with it. As long as you have an idea of sound, you can basically do whatever and still sound like you,” Moberg says.

The band plays original music, but occasionally punctuates rehearsals with covers. While the setlist for Kawa is not determined yet, the band has brought in new music to experiment with in rehearsals. Future endeavours for The Alley Shadows may include EPs or even a full-length studio album.

Taking into account weekly rehearsals and the busy schedules of the group, The Alley Shadows have realistic hopes for the progression of the band.

“[We want to] make it as big as we can with the time that we have,” Moberg says.

Their gig will take place at Kawa Espresso Bar on Oct. 28. Admission is free.

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