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Photo by Liam Dawe

Mikey’s Juke Joint launches new home for independent artists

By Liam Dawe, June 5 2018 — 

Mikey’s Juke Joint, one of Calgary’s historic live music venues, continues to bolster its weekend vibes with their “Feel Good Fridays” showcase, which kicked off this past weekend. Jamil Ahmed — the founder of Mikey’s flagship Thursday night experience “Groove Theory,” is aiming to recreate that soulful sound through Calgary’s up-and-coming independent artists.

“Because it’s a musician’s jam, I decided to bring this event to where musicians convene. It’s a place that draws some of the best artists this city has to offer,” Ahmed says.

“[Music] is already embedded in the culture, in this very building,” he continues. “Some people come for the jams, some people come for the band, but most just come for the overall experience. Since we had such a overwhelming success with Groove Theory — the most popular [event] of a venue with live music every night of the week — we decided to carry that vibe to the weekend. Why not?”

Armed with local talent exuding a relaxed, tap-your-Birkenstocks vibe, Ahmed handpicked Benji Cash, Bad Bodies and B*les & The Suede for the inaugural affair.

“This is all independent music. Artists are here to showcase their content and it gives them an opportunity to share fans with each other,” says Ahmed. “If I put two or three bands that share a genre or have enough similarities, even if they just like each other in general, the concept of having three to four hours of good music works.”

Each of the artists who played a set on the event’s launch night were familiar with Ahmed and the scene at Mikey’s Juke Joint through Groove Theory.

Benji Cash is one of those artists. He recently completed an artist development program at the National Music Centre and is now emerging onto Calgary’s wider scene. The self-designated R&B-folk fusioner got his spot on Friday’s bill through consistent open mic performances at Cafe Koi, another local hotbed and incubator. Benji says the environment at Feel Good Fridays is exactly how it sounds and when asked about what the future of the event looks, his response was simple.

“It’s go time,” Cash says. “This summer is going to be a lot of fun.”

Bad Bodies, who followed Cash’s set, have only been a group for six months but have quickly found their niche as a melodious quintet, channeling a sound comparable to Odd Future-spinoff The Internet. After hosting a Groove Theory session earlier in May and receiving a unanimously positive response, they were invited to be part of the debut experience at Feel Good Fridays,  which lead singer Stephanie Baleta says corresponds well with the sound they strive for.

“We’re just having fun up there, goofing off and most of the time we think it sounds good,” Baleta says. “So when we were asked to play Feel Good Fridays, we thought that it was a pretty natural fit.”

Rounding off a night full of ambient vibrations, B*les & The Suede played an unabbreviated and  organic setlist from their April release, After You. Emitting an aura of mellifluous R&B groove, the quintet covered popular tracks from some of their influences, namely Kaytranada and Anderson .Paak. They look to lend their sound into Sled Island’s East Village Block Party on June 23.

The Feel Good Fridays baptism was, in a word, sublime. Tailored to the self-descriptive tone, the best part about the event may be its promise. Jamil Ahmed ended the fruitful night with an inspired outlook for the events days ahead.

“We’re going to take this thing as far as it goes,” he says. “As far as the culture will take it.”

For more info on Feel Good Fridays, or other events at Mikey’s Juke Joint, visit mikeysjukejoint.com.

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