Mike Siek: “What sustains me as a musician is the music itself.”
Mike Siek moved to McCauley in 2008. He has worked for a local alternative newspaper and is a filmmaker. He began his work in community development when fellow Heart of the City (HOTC) board member, Rylan Kafara, hired him to work at Boyle Street Community Services. He is currently working at e4c as a Community Developer. Mike can’t remember exactly how long he served on the board of Heart of the City. Our best guess is that he served for 12 years before he retired in 2022.
“When I moved into this neighbourhood, I moved away from the outskirts of the city where all the houses kind of look the same and nobody talks to each other,” Mike says. “As soon as I started working in the yard, I realized that everyone talks to each other here; there’s constantly people chatting about the neighbourhood and talking about things. I started to meet the neighbours. Part of my goal in moving into the neighbourhood was to get involved in community and volunteering. You know - spend less time working and more time living.”
Mike discovered the festival when he could hear it from his house, and began volunteering shortly thereafter. “I went over. I had a good time. Then I saw an article in the [Boyle McCauley News] that said if you’d like to be involved, come to the Boys and Girls Club.” He went and at that meeting became part of the festival’s Board of Directors.
When it comes to the kind of art he makes, Mike says, “I am mostly a musician. I do art otherwise, when the fancy strikes. I have a little space set up in my living room where I can do art, but for the most part I play guitar and noodle about recording and playing music with friends. That’s my release.”
What sustains Mike as a musician “is the music itself. I’m mostly about creating music with other people and building in-the-moment musical relations. It’s like a conversation or a game or a sport, all of these things combined, you’re reading what this person has put out. You are trying to create with that person. You are building a language together. It’s all really interesting. The process of making music is what sustains me.”
Mike has played in many Edmonton bands, including The Skips, Brother Octopus, Spring Crush, and, most recently, the band he founded with Patrick Pillay and John Aram called Funk Cove. At the time of writing this article, Funk Cove was scheduled to open for Boney M at the River Cree Casino in late November. You can check Funk Cove out at their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/funkcove).
On volunteering in the community, Mike says, “I have an able body and some skills, so I try to make community events run more smoothly. Sometimes I’m a DJ at a Halloween event or I’m helping set up tables at another. Often I’m bringing folks from my work trying to get them involved and engaged in those events. It’s pretty much whatever I can get my fingers into in a way that helps as best I can when I can.”
He adds, with his characteristic humility, “I do small things in small ways in a small community. I’m not doing anything amazing, just living. I’m just a human. I’m struggling and doing what I can. The types of things I like doing just happen to be art and community-based.”
Check out Funk Cove's cover of "Keep Bringing Me Back" here.
Corine Demas lives in McCauley where she is the President of the McCauley Community League and a board member with Heart of the City.