I made a movie about the Winnipeg music scene. A lot of people don’t know about it. They should.
Winnipeg is known for having produced Neil Young, The Guess Who, Remy Shand, The Crash Test Dummies and The Weakerthans. It’s a cold place to live in the winter. Last week, it was -31 c (which is -24 in America and very cold everywhere). As a result, there are a lot of musicians who tend to stay indoors with their instruments. This and the fact that Winnipeg is an affordable place to live makes for an incredibly talented pool of artists who play together to create one of the most exciting music scenes in the world. Richard Florida notes that 12 percent of Canada’s musicians live in Winnipeg even though less than 3 percent of the country lives there.
The city is a tough sell for anyone who has never been there. In fact, it’s a tough sell for anyone period. Most of the people who live here have a love-hate relationship with Winnipeg. Many of our friends and family have left the city for more desirable places like Vancouver and Toronto.
If I Could Only Leave Here is a documentary that was shot over the course of a year. It amounts to a very protracted glimpse into the city’s basements and bars where Winnipeg’s musicians do their thing. If I succeed in getting people to see the city as something more than a punchline on a late-night talk show — in Canada, Winnipeg is a punchline on late-night talk shows — the past year will have been well worth it.