Welcome to Industry Feature Friday, putting the spotlight on the people behind the music! From producers, radio DJ's and radio trackers, to photographers, managers and everything in between. These are the music business professionals who work hard to help put your favourite artists (emerging, independent and hit makers) on the charts, DSP's, radio and on the map through their work behind the scenes!
Where do I even start with Dan Clapson?!?! He's a treasure, a true supporter of artists at ALL levels and an amazing curator of live events! He encompasses community and collaboration within the music scene and he's SO COOL! You know him as the Founder of Blue Jay Sessions, as a Co-Founder of The Prairie Emporium, the Creative Director of Eat North and a journalist with Globe & Mail! He recently (very deservedly) won Talent Buyer of the Year at the 11th Annual Country Music Alberta Awards! Ya'll, he's one of the best in the west, let me tell you!
I've been so lucky to have had him on a few episodes of Studio B, and I love that you get to know more about him this week with IFF - and for you to get to know him if you don't already! Thanks for joining me for another platform of Studio B, Dan!!
Get to know more about Dan and Blue Jay Sessions here:
Sarah Scott (SS): What inspired you to become more involved in the music scene and industry?
Dan Clapson (DC): I’ve always incorporated live music at some level into the food events I do through my company Eat North, as well as have featured musicians on the site for years. It wasn’t until we decided to launch Blue Jay Sessions in 2019 though that I really wound up getting deeper and deeper in the music community.
I love being surrounded by creatives, be them chefs, musicians, visual artists, drag performers…so, it has been really amazing to work with so many talented musicians from across Canada and the U.S. over the past three years.
SS: How did it feel to win "Talent Buyer of the Year" at the CMABs and what does it mean to you and Blue Jay Sessions as a whole?
DC: It was really exciting! We do legitimately try to put our best foot forward with Blue Jay Sessions in terms of supporting a wide range of independent musicians--from a variety of genres--to provide performance opportunities.
I’m sure a lot of smaller venues and talent bookers will agree with this, but you don’t really realize just how many different musical acts you’ve booked in a year until you actually look back and think about it. It’s crazy to think that once the CCMAs have come and gone in September, we will have done shows with over 200 musicians since January.
Blue Jay Sessions has definitely become a community, more so than I ever really expected, so I think winning an award for talent booking work through Blue Jay speaks to us trying our best to maintain a great sense of community with existing performers while expanding the “Blue Jay Fam” with new (to us) musicians.
SS: How would you like to see Blue Jay Sessions grow and where would you like to take it?
DC: Our fundamental goal remains to support independent artists while being rooted in Calgary at our home venue The Prairie Emporium. I really do think we are helping make the city’s music community stronger as well as helping draw people’s attention to Calgary as a true “music city”.
Do I like to do the occasional pop-up in other venues? Yes.
Do I like doing things under the Blue Jay umbrella that are a bit unorthodox? Occasionally.
Do I love to travel? You bet.
So, with all of that in mind, let’s see where the wind blows us!
SS: Who are you listening to right now? Who are some of your fave Canadian artists these days?
I have not stopped listening to the new Mariel Buckley album Everywhere I Used to Be on the daily since it came out. Absolutely epic.
ZENON is a really amazing Calgary-based alt-R&B artist that wil floor you with their vocals, same with rapper Tea Fannie as well as folk-roots singer TAYLR. All so dynamic in their own rights. Madison Olds is a wicked pop singer, both The Free Label and LU KALA are Toronto-based and have some amazing tunes. There really is so much talent in Canada.
Of course, I love listening to a ton of country artists like Liz Christensen, Chevy Beaulieu, Mariya Stokes, Nice Horse, Devin Cooper, Nicole Rayy, D’orjay The Singing Shaman, The Prairie States, Ryan Lindsay, Robert Adam, Taylor-Rae, Desiree Dorion, Jason Benoit, Hailey Benedict, Jade Turner, Aaron Goodvin, Alex Hughes, Graham Scott-Fleming, Brettyn Rose, Alee, Aaron Pollock, Dani Strong, I could go on and on…
SS: Where are some of your favourite music venues?
There are so many great spots in Calgary. King Eddy is a go-to, obviously, so much history! For a newer place for live tunes, I think the upstairs stage at Hayden Block is really cool and they’ve got tasty food too, which is always a nice bonus.
I grew up in Saskatoon, so I have seen many live shows at the iconic Amigos Cantina—which has got an amazing patio too.
Times Changed in Winnipeg is pretty epic and they actually have a songwriters’ round series that happens there too. If you haven’t been to this bar, you have gotta go!
Make sure you get your tickets to the next round of Blue Jay Sessions during Canadian Country Music Week in Calgary!
Find out all about them and the artists performing at: