Into The Groovenor
Jeremy Smith and Wendy Allsopp offer a top-notch hosting experience in Edmonton, and (for now) online.
A good song can inspire people to do great things. For Jeremy Smith, an impromptu Burning Hell listening session led to the creation of The Groovenor, a west Edmonton-based house concert venue that has turned into an oasis for touring artists looking for a break from the van/venue/motel cycle of the road.
“I was getting home from work and their song came on, and I had to sit and listen to the entire song,” says Smith, who operates the venue with his partner Wendy Allsopp. “Immediately I went in and googled them, and saw they were playing in the Yukon, Calgary, and BC on three successive weekends. Two weeks later they played I show I set up for them, and stayed at my house.”
Smith’s relationship with The Burning Hell led to an introduction to Side Door co-founder Dan Mangan, and soon after, The Groovenor was born. “Next time they played through they opened for Dan, so I started following him, and when he started talking about Side Door, I was there from the first post,” says Smith. “When Wendy and I started dating I told her about, and she said, ‘We have to do it.’”
In its short existence, The Groovenor has made a name for itself as an artist-centred venue, thanks in large part to the pair’s warm personalities and gracious hosting abilities. For artists looking for a personal touch, Smith and Allsopp provide meals, cozy beds, and even tours of the city. Allsopp says spending time with artists is one of the biggest perks of running a house concert venue.
“It’s rewarding on so many levels,” she says. “I love being around creative people, so to be able to offer that sort of atmosphere is just awesome. Whatever they need, we’re there for it.”
“People will go up to artists at a show and buy them drinks or shots, but sometimes all they really want is to have a home-cooked meal or be able to do laundry,” adds Smith. “How do you cross that kind of barrier with a band you like without looking like a freak? Side Door was a perfect gateway to that.”
Since its inception, The Groovenor has hosted monthly concerts, including performances from Tokyo Police Club’s Dave Monks and award winning folk/roots duo Twin Peaks. Smith and Allsopp also had an opportunity to host Alan Cross for a salon talk in 2019, a highlight for both.
“It was so awesome,” says Allsopp. “It was like having royalty in your own home. That was a totally sold-out show, and when he walked into the living room, the room actually gasped. He was great, and he did such a wonderful job.”
Since the start of the pandemic, The Groovenor has started presenting artists live via Zoom, with 0stella and Sulfur City booked for this weekend. While they’re looking forward to a day where they can again host artists in the comfort of their home, they’re enjoying their virtual hosting duties.
“Once I figured out what our place was in the new system, I got really excited about it,” says Smith. “I think when live music starts up again, we’ll still try to convince artists to stream every show, because it increases the possible audience. It’s been a good fill-in, and it opens up a whole lot of possibilities.”
Written by Chuck Teed
Chuck Teed is a freelance writer based out of Saint John, New Brunswick. Primarily focusing on music and entertainment, Chuck's stories have appeared in The Coast, The Maritime Edit, and Huddle Today. When he's not pitching stories, Chuck is the executive director of InterAction School of Performing Arts, one of the largest performing arts schools on the east coast.