A Slice of World Music

Posted on : Thursday, July 24, 2014


These days, the music ‘industry’ is about the equivalent of the tourism ‘industry’ – that is, they both seem like escapes from reality, and not a praiseworthy career for your children!


But, like exotic locales, music is also a product that people will pay good money to see. Just ask the owners of The Slice in downtown Lethbridge. Since 2005, brothers Jesse and Tyler Freed have made The Slice a noted stop on the Alberta music circuit, featuring live music as much as seven days a week all year round. That adds up to a lot of visiting musicians – several thousand at least – and a lot of people who get exposed to Lethbridge for the first time.

So, what do they comment on? “The bridge,” says Jesse. “Always it’s the bridge.” Visiting musicians also tend to talk about what a great city we have, but here the cynical bar owner in Freed makes an appearance: “Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they? They all want to come back and work again.”

And come back they do. Some bands who played the now well-known venue on their first tours come back after achieving more success.

Making a living as a musician in todays world, as the comment suggests, is difficult. Probably even more difficult than running a successful tourism business. But each industry has its unique rewards.

For Jesse Freed, it’s about the variety of music he gets to see from behind the bar or sound board. “We’ve had everything. country, folk, rap, even German industrial bands.”

Last year, Juno-winner Danny Michel came to town with some musical friends he’d met in Belize and convinced to come to Canada - the Garifuna Collective, a unique Afro-Amerindian cultural group. Their collaborative album “Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me” was called “one of the finest musical works of our time” in Billboard magazine. A long-time Slice patron agreed, calling it “one of the best shows I’ve seen here.”

Taking a musical journey at the Slice is a two-way trip that connects the world and downtown Lethbridge!