"I'll have my steak medium-rare and my indie folk band at a moderate volume, please."
It's something you might say to your server while you're sitting at Calgary institution The Ship and Anchor along the city's 17th Avenue, on any given day of the week. It's one of the many restaurants and pubs in Calgary where the city's vibrant music scene has become ever-present – something that will reach a fever pitch in the coming week ahead of next Sunday's Juno Awards.
Heading into its 26th year, The Ship – as regulars call it – has become one of the most famous homes of live music and comforting pub fare in the city. From local favourites like The Dudes or Miesha and The Spanks, to current chart-topping Canadian artist Jocelyn Alice and world-famous sister duo Tegan and Sara, it's hard not to feel satiated when you're biting into a big "Ship" burger while tapping your foot to a beat.
Amy Thiessen, another local favourite, has also performed at the popular bar, as well as at small local cafes like Higher Ground, and larger stages at folk festivals across the country. These days, she can be found at Raw Rotations at Raw Bar inside the Hotel Arts on Thursday nights, where her musicianship and guest emerging artists harmonize with stunning modern Vietnamese cuisine.
Cutting into tender beef carpaccio with peanuts, Thai basil and nuoc cham sauce as Ms. Thiessen strums her guitar and vocals flood the space is a near-perfect pairing.
"There's just something beautiful about people pairing one experience with another," explains Ms. Thiessen. "We all need to eat, of course, but so many things can be involved in a restaurant experience. The fact that my music can help make a person's dinner memorable is a pretty cool thing to be able to do."
Over in Inglewood, 9th Avenue was christened "Music Mile" earlier this year by Mayor Naheed Nenshi. Michael Noble, owner of the contemporary restaurant, The Nash, was one of the first to jump on board with the project.
"I love to connect with our community in as many ways possible," says Mr. Noble.
"It's really cool to be part of the vibrant music scene in Inglewood and along 9th Avenue. 'Music Mile' was created to join all of these great venues together so that every live music fan can quickly find out which gigs are happening, all from one website. It's a fantastic community initiative."
Although, one may not think of The Nash as the first place to go for live music, Mr. Noble is quick to point out that back in the early 1900s, the heritage building his restaurant inhabits was once a popular hotel with a buzzing live blues bar, so having local musicians perform every Thursday is an appropriate nod to the musical history that lives in its foundation.
Juno Week officially begins on Monday, with various events sprinkled around the city, but the busiest time starts when JunoFest kicks off Friday, with concerts at a list of venues that are used to mixing food and music.
Next Saturday, that pairing will reach peak crescendo at the Junos' gala dinner, held a night before the televised awards show and where most of the awards are actually handed out. At the gala, Juno award-winning artist and celebrity chef, Roger Mooking, is cooking a multicourse dinner for this year's crop of nominees and special guests.
"It is the first time we've ever had a celebrity chef curate our gala menu," Juno Awards president Allan Reid happily points out. Mr. Reid is not only responsible for signing Mr. Mooking in the first place back in the early 1990s when he was with Canadian R&B group Bass is Base, but also for discovering Calgary native, Jann Arden.
During Juno Week, you might just bump into Mr. Reid at The Palomino Smokehouse, another famous venue with exceptional barbecue that the Juno president notes as one of his favourite places for food and live music in Calgary.
"It's got a great vibe in the room – both upstairs and down – and the food is fabulous too!"
Here are five must-see events happening during Juno Week:
Juno Cup Jam, featuring Whitehorse, Brett Kissel and more. Thursday, 8 p.m., Flames Central
Library Voices. Friday, midnight, Broken City
Alex Cuba, Saturday, 11 p.m., Festival Hall
Cowpuncher, Saturday, 11 p.m., The Palomino
Juno Songwriters' Circle, Sunday, 12 p.m., Jack Singer Concert Hall
For more details, visit junoawards.ca.