The Nick Presents
Community club brings the big names in folk
Nestled away in the Crescent Heights Community Hall, just under 200 people were packing into the small venue on Jan. 11 to take it in the pure folk sounds of renowned artists Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt for a rare split-bill performance.
After seeing their performance, it is no secret as to why the Texas-based pair are so celebrated in the folk circuit. Schmidt, who was named one of the Chicago Tribune’s 50 Most Significant Songwriters in the Last 50 Years, sang with no shortage of heart. The poetics of his lyrics left the audience with a deep connection to his performance. Elkin on the other hand, who was one of Texas Music Magazine’s artists of the year, provided powerful rooted-in-gospel vocals that captivated the crowd, and added a welcomed balance to Schmidt’s troubadour-esque style.
The onstage chemistry between Elkin and Schmidt was very evident, though they regularly tour separately. It came as no surprise to those in the audience who may have been unfamiliar with the act that the two are engaged. Not only was their musical performance amazing, but the pair were just as entertaining in their between-songs banter and stories, such as when Elkin told of her experiences in Ogallala, Nebraska, or when Schmidt told the story of proposing to Elkin through song at the SXSW festival.
The show had a wonderful intimacy to it, and felt more like a friend playing songs for you in their basement than a typical performance. Other than the openness Elkin and Schmidt displayed on stage, much of the intimate vibe of the show can be credited to the unique venue.
Crescent Heights Community Hall is the host of the Nickelodeon Music Club, one of Calgary’s greatest hidden gems for the folk music community. Started in 1980 by the members of Plug Nickel (hence the name, “Nickelodeon”), the volunteer-run club is now in the beginning of its 34th season of concerts. The Nick has brought through some big names, too, including first Calgary appearances by acts such as Ani DeFranco, the Mollys, the Bills and Le Vent du Nord.
According to their website, “taking a chance on an act you’ve never heard of is highly recommended,” which is something the club tries to embody in their selections for opening acts.
However, the opener for this show was certainly not unfamiliar to the stage. Lucas Chaisson, born in Cochrane, is only 20 years old but his performance lacks nothing despite his young age. Already an accomplished performer, Chaisson won the Canadian Folk Music Award in 2012, and at this performance, he demonstrated why. Even though he confessed to the crowd that he was sick and his voice may be suffering as a result, Chaisson could have played the entire night with no complaint from the audience. His blend of folk, roots and blues style accompanying his personal, heartfelt lyrics was everything you hope to see in Alberta-grown artists, without the stereotypical cowboy bravado.
All in all, the evening was the perfect mix of a laid-back atmosphere, a strong community feel, and amazing folk music. If you’ve never been before, the Nickelodeon Music Club puts on an amazing show, and definitely shouldn’t be missed.