The Edmonton Canon: So Where Are The Women?
Published July 16, 2009 by Rich Bomber & Fish Griwkowsky in Music Feature
Hopefully you noticed it, because we sure the hell did. Where are the women in this initial so-called “Edmonton Canon”? (No offense to K.D. Lang.) Everyone of course knows that rock ’n’ roll is a terribly misogynist business, the expectations of artist bedroom-bling having only recently caught up to males in this wretched American Idol era. Still, was it really so hard to find a couple monolithic albums by women and throw them on the pedestals?
Well, honestly, we decided against affirmative action and to go with the albums we all liked the most and argued for passionately. For the record, discussed were indie recordings by Jody Shenkarek, Pangina, and, speaking of Christine Chomiak, Lurch’s classic single “Fist Me With Your Wristwatch.” I pushed for Colleen Brown. Other singers’ works loved by CBC, like Wendy McNeill and Ann Vriend, just didn’t feel “regional” or “Edmonton” enough, though that argument could be surely used against some of the discs that did make the cut. Still others, like The Skinny, The Secretaries, Sherry-Lee Heschel-Wisor, Luann Kowalek, or Tanyss Nixi either had albums that we love (if collectively slightly less than the finalists), or no recordings at all.
But while examining the subject, we confirmed the obvious, that women are a crucial part of the city’s musical history, from rockabilly Shirley Field back in the ’50s and Mavis McCauley (who played with Daisy Hill Puppy Farm in the ’60s and One Horse Blue in the ’70s and ’80s) to The Wet Secrets’ horn section of Donna Ball and Kim Rackel, behind whom the rest of the band is practically invisible. Beloved Penny Buckner, of course, drumming with Twin Fangs, Richard Buckner, The Maybellines.
Streaming through so much of our canonic music, we find Bernice Pelltier and Jane Hawley of Jr. Gone Wild, and Lorna Grahn of The Glory Stompers for you old-school punks, Sherri Iwaschuk drumming for Voice, her bandmate Dwayne Gotell heading to Skinny Puppy while she ended up keeping time with Sarah McLachlan. Moving back, Charlotte Wiebe is another voice you most certainly heard in her other pro musical career, singing ad jingles in the early ’80s, while Kennedy Jensen was in Jensen Interceptor, one of the few bands going in the 1970s thanks to ridiculous liquor laws. And Mary Saxton’s singles from the ’60s still go for insane prices on eBay, another one of ours.
We hope you tell us what else we missed; talking about just that is actually the point of this whole experiment.