Tuning (The) Forks

Music fills the marketplace with free, local song at no cost

Local singer-songwriter Fontine (right) performs at The Forks on March 9 as part of Manitoba Music at the Market. (Photo by Keeley Braunstein-Black)

The city’s most famous meeting place is going to sound that much sweeter this month.

Manitoba Music at the Market is a new series of free, pop-up concerts staged at The Forks Market. Presented by Manitoba Music and Real Love Winnipeg, the project endeavours to bring accessible and family-friendly live music to the masses. After a successful first leg in November, the program is back this month with nine performances from nine Manitoban artists.

“The concept really was to have something that is really high quality in terms of having this parade of fantastic artists playing in an environment where everyone can enjoy it,” Sean McManus, the executive director of Manitoba Music, says.

“We have had an ongoing relationship with The Forks. As partners, they’re such huge supporters of the arts scene in our city and in our province and of the music scene especially.”

Spurred by the preclusion of live music and concerts over the last three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the series is touted as a celebration of the music that helped many through isolation and the artists behind it.

“We felt that one of the groups of folks along with many others including healthcare workers and others that were impacted by the pandemic were musicians and artists and not being able to tour and play shows. That’s how this came together,” McManus says.

“We had sort of an open call, so folks could submit to perform. (Real Love Winnipeg) helped us put together a program that we thought was reflective of the diversity of genres and the diversity representative of the Manitoba music scene. We’re really grateful for their partnership on this.”

Local artists taking part include Cassidy Mann and Boy Golden on March 23 and Keisha Booker, who already took the stage at the EQ3 Lounge on March 9.

“Real Love actually reached out, and I’d done some events with them in the past like Bands as Bands and a few other events at the Good Will,” Booker says.

“I just agreed to do the gig because they always put on really great shows. I love an aesthetic vibe, so I loved the idea that they were putting the event together at The Forks in the EQ3 Lounge. I love intimate, living-room sessions-type events, and that’s what it’s like but in a public space. It’s really cute in there, and the acoustics are awesome.”

Booker cites an “interactive” crowd as a highlight of her performance and stresses the importance of day-to-day art events like Music at the Market in the city’s cultural scene.

“It was just good energy and good vibes all around. I think it adds something to the city that it needs. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a big event, but just in everyday settings,” she says.

And with one more date left following tonight’s performances by artists Bluebloods, Adiyo and Mattmac, McManus anticipates a big finish for their closing show.

“The fact that our closing artist for the last show on the 23rd is Boy Golden playing solo is special. Boy Golden is an artist that came together during the pandemic and wrote a bunch of the music and put the project together during that time,” he says.

Published in Volume 77, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 16, 2023)

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