Making Music and Community in McCauley

How the pandemic showed an internationally recognized musician that there’s no place like home

Internationally recognized, AV has played shows across the globe, in backyards and concert halls, at festivals, and at an off grid living community in Tasmania– where she performed for the entire town apart from one resident who was ill. That show, she says, is the most unique of her career thus far and involved an interruption from a cow preparing to calf as well as a serious risk of altercations with kangaroos.  

Despite her success, Edmonton remains home for AV. More specifically, the inner-city neighbourhood of McCauley, where she lives and hosted a series of front porch concerts in the summers of 2020 and 2021. 

EATF recipient Ann Vriend.

“It just really started organically during the pandemic,” she says. “We started putting on concerts every Sunday on [my] front porch for something to do … that’s when I started meeting more and more neighbours because we had something on our street that was very organic; it wasn’t organized by some institution. 

In a neighbourhood where many residents live unhoused, AV has found a community. “This is a place where we have to look out for each other,” she explains, adding that despite the crime rates, “There’s definitely a code of ethics that I, quite honestly, think is stronger than on Wall Street.” 

McCauley is often underestimated, but AV’s fondness for her neighbourhood doesn’t waiver. 

“In some other neighbourhood, there probably would’ve been noise complaints [in response to the concerts]. But our neighbourhood is so tolerant because there are so many things that are much more worrying,” she says. “Some live music is so far down the totem pole that people just responded positively instead.”  

So positively in fact that she formed a group with five women who started singing with her at the porch concerts. They call themselves AV and the Inner City, and their summer is already packed with gigs. 

AV is also a recipient of the 2022 Edmonton Artists Trust Fund (EATF). The EATF was established in 1997 with the objective of investing in artists living and working in the greater Edmonton area. A joint venture between the Edmonton Arts Council and the Edmonton Community Foundation, recipients are nominated for their work in areas including literature, music, theatre, visual arts, dance, and filmmaking. The $15,000 trust award is intended to support artists with both their living and working expenses. 

AV’s music is loved throughout the world, but in the end, she’s an Edmontonian and, even more so, a resident of the inner-city.  

How has Edmonton shaped me? Well, there’s the Edmonton answer, but then the inner city has really, way more profoundly, shaped me than the city at large.”  

She plans to use some of the EATF funding to help maintain her McCauley home and invest in much needed repairs.  

To celebrate the 25th year of the EATF awards, in 2023 there will be 25 awards of $15,000 each.