Don’t try to tell Allison Dyjach and Darek Reidel that there isn’t a music scene in KW. Since June 2022, they have been tracking the events happening in our community as part of their weekly live radio show, On the Scene.
Dyjach, a member of the band I, the Mountain, and Reidel, also known as DJ Good DR, were already tuned into the music scene prior to launching their show, but even they were surprised by how much happens in this community week in and week out.
“It’s been really fun for me to just be more intentional about seeing what’s out there. You know, as you get involved with the music scene, you kind of have your go-to places, right? So it’s just been really cool for me to have to, every week, explore different art scenes that I maybe wouldn’t naturally gravitate towards,” Dyjach said.
Hosting a weekly events show has been eye-opening for the team. The show broadcasts live on Thursday nights from venues across KW. The pair work together to brainstorm new locations and new guests, always with a focus on places and people active in the live events scene.
“What makes the show work really well is that Allison is plugged into the music community. I’m somewhat plugged into the music community through DJing and just enjoying the nightlife. But we come from very different sides,” Reidel said.
“So, I’ve learned about bands and venues that I didn’t know before through Allison, and I’m sure it’s vice versa for her. And through that we’ve met some really interesting people,” he said.
Post-pandemic, events in the community are back in full swing.
“Personally, I find it’s crazier now. I mean, they used to be fun nights. And now it’s like, wow, this is jam packed! People are ready to dance. People are back,” Reidel said.
For bands, however, it remains difficult to find consistent audiences. Whether or not a show will sell well or draw a crowd can feel unpredictable at times. Dyjach said there is a difference between playing at a restaurant and booking out a concert—in the latter case, organisers must also consider ticket sales, the timing of the event, prices and many other factors.
In Reidel’s experience, success in a community like KW all comes down to seeing bands consistently engaging with and growing their fanbase.
“I think it’s all about building a scene and building a fan base. Starting out at the Yeti, you get fifteen people in there. And then maybe you go to the Dive Bar. And then, once you get a big enough following, you can do something like the Registry Theater,” Reidel said.
While a local music scene exists in KW, there are few venues like The Jazz Room that are primarily used for music—and these are often out of reach for musicians just starting out or still building their fanbases.
Dyjach sees secondary and tertiary venues like pubs, breweries, and cafes, as well as unconventional spaces like studios, as an important part of supporting this early career development.
“As a local band, especially when we were starting out in the first couple years, we were hitting up the breweries all the time. So I think these spaces play a really vital role in contributing to that arts and culture scene in a unique way,” Dyjach said.
The work that Dyjach and Reidel are doing, profiling and amplifying the music scene, is not without challenges. To begin with, the lack of consistency around promoting events has been a big barrier for the team. Venues do not consistently advertise their live music line-ups across all of their digital platforms, so it isn’t always obvious where to look for event listings.
Both Dyjach and Reidel find the experience of discovering and engaging new performers to be really motivating.
“One of my favourite parts about doing On the Scene is going, ‘Okay, let’s find this band. Let’s get them on here.’ I’ll message them and the reaction you get—they’re so excited, because some of them have never been on the radio, or some of them have never had their stuff play on the radio,” said Reidel.
“It’s fun to offer a little bit of support to artists,” Dyjach said “and it’s really opened my eyes to how much is going on in KW.”
Allison Dyjach and Darek Reidel co-host and produce On the Scene, a weekly live radio program on Midtown Radio. You can hear it every Thursday at 7 p.m. on http://midtownradio.ca.