Canadian Musician - March/April 2023 - Page 38

On AV ’ s Block

By Matt Bauer
Photography by James Dean
On her seventh full-length album , Everybody Matters , Ann “ AV ” Vriend channels the sounds of classic socially conscious soul into a superb and topical reflection of her neighborhood .

It ’ s no secret that the pandemic forced musicians to get creative in terms of live performance . For Edmonton ’ s Ann “ AV ” Vriend it meant inaugurating a weekly event called “ Porch Concerts ,” where for nearly 60 Sundays , she and other musical guests performed free concerts on her porch with participation from her neighbors , in Edmonton ’ s distressed and notorious neighborhood of McCauley . “ If I took this laptop and walked you around my block and my street , you would see a lot of evidence of homelessness and opioid addiction and crisis ,” says Vriend , via Zoom from her home of 15 years . “ And it ’ s very rampant here , and has been for a long time . And the pandemic didn ’ t help that at all . [ It has been referred to ] as a shelter district , because there are a lot of shelters that thereby attract people who need services . This also happens to be the economically poorest neighborhood of Alberta . And so the fact that all of these people who are destitute and have some major health issues are sort of funneled into the poorest neighborhood of Edmonton — which is primarily not Caucasian — certainly raises some questions in my mind . There ’ s lots of young families and little kids in this neighborhood and what they have to deal with , seeing