Stomp & Strum at NMC

Nothing could dampen spirits at the National Music Centre’s post-Stampede parade fundraiser outside the former customs house – not even a torrential downpour.

Music lovers and civic cheerleaders alike dropped by Stomp & Strum to support NMC, celebrate Stampede, and sample Village Brewery suds and a buffet piled high with pulled pork bunwiches and baked beans. Mayor Nenshi, who knows a good party when he sees one, arrived fresh off his horse from the Stampede parade and showed off his finest white hat style.

From their stage in the loading dock, Barney Bentall and the Grand Caribou Opry kept toes tapping and buckeroos barn-dancing with a high-spirited western review. Glamour gauchos in sparkles and fringe hobnobbed with buttoned-down urban cowboys. Toddlers ran wind sprints around impromptu square-dance flash mobs. Beneath the historic sandstone arches of the customs house, even the hay bales stayed dry. Stomp and Strum narrowly missed becoming Stomp and Storm.

Beakerhead's Mondo Spider shuffled in for a visit. Under the watchful eye of head science guru and Beakerhead cofounder Jay Ingram – rocking that signature blue bandana – the gigantic mechanical arachnid slowly made its way to the crowd of enthralled cowpunchers. “It was here for an hour,” laughed one hombre. “Most of that time was spent getting it off the truck.” But what Mondo Spider lacked in speed, it made up for in undeniable presence, and the percussionists of Momentum Live Entertainment, who ushered in the giant robotic spider, added plenty of stomp to the strum. 

No wonder Calgary is the country’s cultural capital in 2012: nowhere else in Canada could you possibly find a mix of cowboy culture and imaginative engineering. It’s turning into a very good year.