Music City, Sault Ste. Marie… the time is now

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Morning Show Greig Nori on the Music City

We live in tumultuous times. Political campaigns seemingly avoid serious debate about the issues that really matter. Leaders of all stripes each express faux regrets concerning ‘the nastiest, most divisive campaign in Canadian history’, and then cheerfully continued to sling mud and talk smack like never before.

And now the Sault Noront ferrochrome plant debate looms ahead of us, with stark choices offered, and its yet unknown, undefined environmental and economic impacts. Getting ferrochrome right might define our city forever.

Against this backdrop, the Music City concept has emerged under a determined Sault Chamber of Commerce and wider business community leadership. A simple, but evocative notion – the Sault as a recognised locale that embraces its music industry, leveraging its known talent, assets, and institutions. Music Cities like Austin, Texas prove the rule: music is an perpetual connective social thread, a potentially immense, attractive, and (best of all) sustainable economic driver that builds communities, without ever dividing its citizenry into rock-throwing political camps.

How do we go wrong by embracing a Sault Music City? There are no downsides. Wonderful Sault musicians provide the proof that world class talent lives here. The city live scene is varied, and dynamic. Great bands and ensembles from near and far are part of our cultural DNA. The Algoma Conservatory of Music, with its soon to open Headrace Studios, and ‘The Loft’ performance space will offer a ‘one of kind in North America’ recording facility to the world. A legendary Neve sound board used by 10 (10 !!!) Grammy Award winning artists is part of the Studio’s remarkable technological offering. The Studio nerve centre is linked directly to the adjacent Machine Shop, Francis Clergue’s unintended but beautiful music hall marvel that has attracted raves from every artist who has ever performed there … a performing arts and culture epicentre.

Elections and their politics will come and go. Ferrochrome will remain unresolved for years, maybe a generation – environmental assessments, legal challenges, and bitter controversy are each guaranteed. If Algoma Steel is even making steel 10 years from now might depend on what China decides to do with its currently shuttered manufacturing capacity, one that dwarfs the entire Canadian steel industry…. Or if the current resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington decides to throw another tariff tantrum.

But Music City is real, entirely within our power, and it is now. My old punk heroes the Ramones said it best, a simple battle cry backed by three chord elegance – ‘Hey ho, Let’s go!’ … Music City is something amazing that we can build here for our town, and the generations to come. Its success depends on absolutely nobody else – except us.

Interested in learning more about this initiative?

Here are a couple videos to get you started: