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Blue Jay Cafe set to pop up for holiday session

It’s an opportunity for Canadian performers to build a community while giving back to the community.

The Blue Jay Cafe live music pop-up is back in Calgary once again from Nov. 20 to 23 at Kensington’s Oak Tree Tavern. This event will have a festive aspect to it and brings together 32 Western Canada musicians for intimate songwriter circle sessions.

Alberta musician Mariya Stokes will be one of the artists participating and she said the up close and personal style of the Blue Jay Cafe allows musicians to really connect with their audience.

“It’s a really great way for songwriters to sit down and share their songs kind of in a stripped down, super intimate way and connect with the fan base just in a way that they generally wouldn’t in a high energy show or a whole band show,” said Stokes, who grew up in Stavely, 110 kilometres south of Calgary.

“It really builds community within the music scene as well.”

Artists will share the stories behind their lyrics and the inspiration behind them in two nightly sets of country singers performing.

Stokes said their job is to connect with people. Giving them an insiders’ seat to Canadian music talent is a special way to do that.

“(Our job) is to create art that says things in a way that people maybe wouldn’t look at it or think about it,” Stokes said.

Community giving part of Blue Jay Cafe

The Blue Jay Café is also in the spirit of season. Five dollars for each ticket sold will go to the Community Kitchen Program of Calgary. Custom event posters will also be sold, with proceeds going to the CKP.

Calgary’s Alex Hughes, Robert Adam, Lauren Mayell and Kate Stevens, in addition to Olivia Rose and Hailey Benedict of Edmonton – and Stokes – are some of the Alberta artists that will be taking part in the event.

Dan Clapson of Eat North, one of the event sponsors said the first Blue Jay Cafe just prior to the city hosting the Canadian Country Music Awards was a hit, so they thought there was an opportunity to once again combine food, drink and song in an intimate setting here in Calgary.

“The first time around, it was really well-received. A lot of musicians who are still emerging don’t have the opportunity to perform in a setting where the crowd is highly engaged,” Clapson said.

“The format of the pop-up offers them a room full of people who are listening and absorbing the songs and stories behind them, it’s a unique atmosphere.”

He’s thrilled to be supporting the Community Kitchen Program of Calgary with this year’s event.

They do a lot of amazing things with their organization and I don’t think they get a lot of attention for how hard they work and the emphasis they put on helping everyone in our community eat real food and cook from scratch, among other great initiatives under their umbrella,” Clapson said.

The Blue Jay Cafe event is co-sponsored by Calgary Country, Oak Tree Tavern, Russell Brewing and Jack Daniels. Information on tickets can be found here.