There’s no question that the mainstream music scene is generally centred on white heterosexual male musicians. It seems that whenever female, queer, or transgender people take the stage, the focus is often on their identity, rather than their music. This can definitely make it discouraging for these musicians to actually go for it, form a band, and play a show.
Thanks to local counterculture organization Not Enough Fest, women, queer, and trans folks now have the opportunity to form bands and be guaranteed a safe, loving, and accepting space to share their musical artistry.
“There just seemed to be a serious lack of women, queer, and trans people playing music in a lot of the places we went to see music. We wanted to help change that,” says organizer Stacy Burnett.
Now in its second year, Not Enough Fest provides gear and jam spaces for first-time musicians as well as long-time musicians that have been marginalized.
These newfound bands have a chance to play in the Not Enough Fest all-ages festival in May, but the folks at Not Enough Fest are constantly hosting events to encourage a friendly and accepting atmosphere in the Edmonton music scene. In mid-January, the group held an all-ages meet-and-greet mixer aimed at building a community for the folks who will play in the spring music festival.
“It’s one thing to get the confidence, resources, and everything together to make a band. It’s another thing to actually go out and expose yourself to all the BS in the scene as well,” says Stacey Hyde, another Not Enough Fest organizer.
“Music is such a vulnerable thing. One of the big things we try to do is create a friendly, supportive, non-judgemental atmosphere. We want to create that feeling of having 30 or 40 people who have got your back to give you the confidence you need,” Hyde adds.
Even though some of us may never have to experience being marginalized in the local music scene, it happens all the time.
“I think that’s the privilege of not being a part of it,” says Brett Montrose, another Not Enough Fest organizer. “You don’t have to see it if you go to a venue and immediately fit in or are immediately at ease, whereas certain people go to places and all their senses tell them that they are uncomfortable, and they don’t belong, and that everyone is against them.”
Not Enough Fest also tackles financial barriers by providing equipment to their community. The organizers do this with the help of allies who don’t necessarily identify as women, queer, or trans, but who want to support the work done by Not Enough Fest.
“We try to source gear from allies, like straight cisgender males. That’s where they can support if they want to be involved. They can be like ‘Oh, I’ve got these extra amps or guitars in my house that I’m not using,’” explains Hyde.
The organizers always try to offer an accessible jam space where the bands can practice, but this can be more difficult than it sounds.
“Last year we didn’t have success finding a physically accessible jam space. I think that showed us how overlooked that can be if it’s not prioritized,” says Burnett.
The folks over at Not Enough Fest also designed a seven-page archive of bands that include women, queer, or trans musicians. The archive is designed for promoters and venues to take into account and, since it is a Google Doc that’s open to everyone, it is updated constantly.“We want this feeling of anti-oppression at shows to be normalized,” says Hyde.
Not Enough Fest events are held once or twice a month, and they range from meet-and-greets, skill shares, and workshops. The organizers work hard every day to make sure everything is set up and works out smoothly.
Last year’s Not Enough Fest brought out a pretty big crowd, and the community is only continuing to grow. Burnett estimates that the group supported 16 new bands last year.
If you want to be a part of Not Enough Fest or become an ally, shoot Not Enough Fest a message on Facebook or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Karen Green.