Manitobans, Minnesotans share the stage through musical exchange

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Manitobans, Minnesotans share the stage through musical exchange

Manitoba musicians are making their mark across the border with a special exchange program in Minnesota.

The program, Manitoba X Minnesota, was a project built by Manitoba Music, a non-profit industry association.

"I think we do a lot of export of music to music markets around the world — Nashville and L.A. and London England," said Sean McManus, executive director of Manitoba Music.

"We started looking around and looking at the U.S. and we had this great music market right at our doorsteps."

McManus began working with musicians and promoters across the border, and earlier this month Manitoba musicians went down for a special showcase with Minneapolis crowds and bands. This weekend, they switched the country and the Minneapolis musicians trekked to a Winnipeg stage.

Manitoban Marti Sarbit, from the band Lanikai, said the exchange is a perfect fit.

"It's great to be able to go into the states and play a show and come back and have made new friends and play with them," she said.

She said it also means that "there are people who are hearing our songs that would have probably not heard our songs."

Micah Erenberg, a singer-songwriter from Winnipeg, also journeyed south and said Minnesota crowds were very supportive.

"Every time you go to a new city and somebody likes your music you realize, 'Oh I can come back here'," he said.

The program gives the bands exposure and teaches them how, as touring musicians, to cross the border, McManus said. However, he added, it's also important to open Manitoba's music scene up to fans in the U.S. because it's a short journey for them to visit festivals and venues here.

"We have an incredible kindred music spirit there," he said.