The Dead Will Rise

Long gone Edmonton music venues are resurrected in a local short film project.

Eden Munro and Mike Siek spent much of their youth in one music scene or another. Since they’ve each lived in Edmonton for over a decade, both have seen numerous venues that shaped their social scene come and go. But the duo are not content with letting the dead rest, and they are resurrecting these venues from the cold grip of closure – if only for 12 minutes each.

Munro and Siek, of NTT Films, are the filmmakers behind Dead Venues, a series of eight- to 12-minute short films partially funded by the Edmonton Heritage Council‘s Edmonton City As Museum Project. These films will serve as archives of the music scenes that sprouted from local venues throughout the ’80s, ’90s and 2000s. Over the past year, Munro and Siek have been collecting footage, memories and venue-centric paraphernalia all thought lost to the past in an effort to preserve, in some way, a record of music scenes long gone. Why venues rather than the bands?

“The music was what pulled everyone in. But people would still go to those bars when the music stopped. So sometimes the venue outweighs the music,” says Siek.

The public’s interest in the project only reinforced that view. This past February, Munro and Siek put the call out to all former scenesters to share their memories and to contribute any piece of history, from footage to gig posters, of the dead venues. “It was a pretty overwhelming response for us. It kind of struck a nerve around here,” says Siek.

They received so much material, in fact, that the filmmakers were forced to reconsider the scope of the project. While the six short films – one for each venue they cover – were originally planned as three- to five-minute shorts, the wealth of interviews and information they received made it clear that they would have to increase the time allotted for each one. “This all started with a conversation between the two of us,” says Munro. “We would talk about the old venues and what they meant, and now we realize that we weren’t the only ones having that conversation.”

Venues such as the Sidetrack Caf (both locations), New City Likwid Lounge, The Power Plant, The Ambassador, Rebar/Stars and The Bronx/The Rev will all rise from the grave when the Dead Venues project makes its debut at the Global Visions Film Festival on May 8. Fitting with the theme, the opening celebration will be accompanied by, among other things, live music and a poster show.

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