Calgary

King Eddy opens for Stampede with country musicians from across Canada

The iconic Calgary blues bar, the King Eddy, may open as a full-time music venue in the next few years, but for now, its Stampede lineup is jumping with Canadian acts.

National Music Centre hopes venue will become a permanent, 'fully-functioning bar'

The King Eddy was a popular spot for blues music in the 1980s and '90s. It's open during the Calgary Stampede. (National Music Centre)

The iconic Calgary blues bar, the King Eddy, may open as a full-time music venue in the next few years, but for now, its Stampede lineup is jumping with Canadian acts.

"We actually have more bands than you can shake a stick at," National Music Centre programs manager Jason Valleau told the Calgary Eyeopener Friday morning.

The former bar and hotel opened in 1905 and transformed in the 1980s into Calgary's Home of the Blues. In 2004, just a year short of the century mark, the building was condemned.

In recent years, it was rebuilt and taken over by the National Music Centre, a non-profit that opens it as a pop-up country saloon during the Calgary Stampede.

"It's a historical building, it's a historical musical venue," Valleau says. "It has the vibe and ghosts of many performers still in there."

Centre staff are busy running the museum, called Studio Bell, while caring for musical artifacts, but they have plans to open the bar as a live music venue, he says.

"It is in the works," Valleau said.

"We're hoping that within the next year or two, it will be a fully-functioning bar with jalepeno poppers and things like that."

Jason Valleau, programs manager for the National Music Centre, discusses the shows at this year's Stampede. (CBC)

For Stampede this year, the venue will host two free shows during each day of Stampede. Evening headliners include Canadian country artists and groups, such as Fred Eaglesmith, Nice Horse, Lindi Ortega, Blake Reid and Calgary-born musician Mariel Buckley.

Mariel Buckley is an alt-country musician based in Calgary. (CBC)

"It's a different listening crowd than attends live music normally," Buckley told Calgary Eyeopener host David Gray.

"It's almost better because you kind of get a wider spectrum of people that are coming out to hear music, so in a lot of ways, it's good for musicians. It's great for listeners, as well."

The Calgary Stampede runs until July 16 and hosts many musical acts.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener

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