the label

Dawn Loucks met Jennifer Abel in the on air booth at CJSW 90.9 FM – the University of Calgary’s campus and community radio station.

As Dawn describes it --

“I was one year clear when I met Jen for the first time. The program director at CJSW told me that there was someone I needed to meet. She was 24 years old and had just been diagnosed with cancer. I got my news one month before my 35th birthday. I was pregnant with my second child. I had cancer and a baby the same week. Nothing was ever the same.

Jen was on air. I ran into the booth and started talking. I’ll never forget the look on her face. She had this fantastic green hair. And, I kept thinking – she’s going to lose it all. I told her that we needed to become friends and that she had to come to my house for dinner at least once a week. That’s how it started.”

My marriage unraveled under the strain of cancer, post traumatic stress disorder, and young children. During that time, our love of independent music led Jen and I on many adventures. We eventually started talking about putting out records. I’d always had an idea that I wanted to do a Stompin’ Tom Connors tribute record – in my view, he’s the ultimate Canadian punk rocker!

With the help of Cam Hayden and Ian Russell from Catch and Release Records, the Connors tribute came to fruition. (Ian Russel runs Flemish Eye Records in Calgary – Chad van Gaalen’s label. Cam went on to play in many Calgary bands – Cripple Creek Fairies --  recording and producing many indie records). The record was BYOP – Bring Your Own Plywood – Calgary Does Connors.  ## Calgary bands covering Stompin’ Tom. Tom Bagley artwork. Amazing!

We were hooked. The record did well in Canada – it was the crack of independent music. People started to pay attention. One project led to another – Falconhawk, Vailhalen, Summerlad, Ghostkeeper, Forbidden Dimension, Miesha and the Spanks, Extra Happy Ghost in Calgary; Old Reliable, AA Sound System, The Swiftys in Edmonton. Saved by Radio was born.

Brent Oliver, man about town in Edmonton, approached us about doing a Grant Hart (drummer from Husker Du) tribute album – on vinyl. Grant was making a trip north for this release. The vinyl addiction began. We started approaching bands on other record labels to do “vinyl only” releases – the birth of Saved by Vinyl. C’Mon, Jim Bryson, Royal Wood, Camp Radio from Ontario. We ventured to the east coast for Cousins, Tanya Davis, Jon McKiel; the west coast for Rodney Decroo, Ford Pier; Saskatchewan for Saved by Saskatoon, The Junior Pantherz, The Blood Lines; Winnipeg for Romi Mayes. We had become a truly Canadian label.

70 releases and 10 years later – CDs, vinyl, even flexidiscs – my kids were getting older. Jen Abel moved to Vancouver to do her PhD. I got tired. Label went on hiatus.

Then I met Eamon McGrath. Through a series of seemingly random, yet fortuitous events, Eamon’s and my paths crossed. The man isn’t yet 30, has toured Europe 20 times, has written over 300 songs, published a book, and can’t get a record deal in Canada. As he said – “I know the label is done, but could I send you some demos??” Saved by Vinyl returns.