Aaron Meyer does things backwards. In a city that thousands flock to with aspirations of finding work in oil and gas, Meyer finds himself in Calgary without job prospects. Yet when he's not jamming with friends here, he spends his time in the birthplace of grunge rock not playing music. Instead, the Washington native divides his time working south of the border and playing music with friends in Calgary.
Under the moniker Honeybear, Meyer says he's made Calgary his musical home because around here, everyone has to work together if they want to make music.
"If I hadn't come to Calgary, I don't know if I'd even be doing music," says the musician. "I grew up [in Olympia] and there's a really thriving scene there but I just never really felt comfortable. It seems like Olympia is really into the idea of how cool Olympia is."
But in a city that isn't known for its art scene, Meyer feels the creative community is more grounded.
"Calgary is a city that I think doesn't really value the arts that much and I think it's that struggle really drives the arts community," says Meyer. "Music isn't going to happen [in Calgary] unless there's a handful of people forcing it to happen. That makes people really passionate about what they're doing because it takes a lot of work and a lot of heart. You've got to make it happen and I think that makes great art."
Meyer feels it's because of Calgary's smaller music scene that it does a better job fostering growth.
"We're getting as many good bands out of Calgary and a lot of them are much better than what's coming out of Olympia, out of a much smaller pool because everybody is helping each other make it happen," Meyer says.
While Honeybear has started to gain traction, Meyer notes he hadn't played too many shows before getting the gig at the Folk Fest.
"I've barely even done any shows in proper venues," Meyer says. "I toured up here from California . . . and figured I'd get some practice on my way up. That was the first time I used the set-up that I have, the first real tour that I've done. The biggest thing I ever did was I played a show at the Soda once."
In stark contrast, the shows Meyer played at the Folk Fest drew much larger crowds, as he shared the stage with the likes of Stars and Library Voices.
"I just finished my last set and I feel a little bit bummed that I don't get to play again," Meyer said of his experience at the festival.