December 3rd, 2021

Chelsea McBride will School you at JazzFest

By Chris Brown on June 8, 2018.

Chelsea McBride leads her Socialist Night School Project in this supplied photo. The 19-piece group performs at Medicine Hat JazzFest on June 19.

What do you get when you mix “the life story of you and other sort of cherry picked narrations of things that happen in your life and my life and all the in between” with a combination of big band and modern music, pop and rock, and jazz and funk?

If your answer was Chelsea McBride’s Socialist Night School, you’d be correct.

The 19-piece contemporary big band may just blow the roof off the Esplanade during its Medicine Hat JazzFest debut in 11 days. The Gas City show is part of Socialist Night School’s first-ever tour that will see it play in Ontario, B.C. and many spaces in between during the latter half of June. The group’s first full-length album was released in January 2017 and McBride is excited to finally bring it to the people.

“I’ve been trying in some capacity to take Socialist on the road for far longer than I’d like to admit,” McBride said recently. “This year everything came together and I realized we could get the tour and actually go across the country which still blows my mind and is so fricking cool. I’m excited to be in new places and bring this giant ensemble. I’m just so, so thrilled because when do you get to say you’re taking your music across the country to new audiences and new places?”

Though she’s just 25 years old, the role music has played in McBride’s life has had an impact more akin to someone three times that age. Chelsea’s dad was on the radio when she was born and says that whether it was country music or Earth, Wind and Fire, she’s always been surrounded by some sort of music. As she got into the industry all those influences came out and came together to create her unique sound.

“It was this reflection of the many, many things I had listened to and I’m lucky in that I played in a lot of big bands before I started writing so I had a sense of that vehicle,” she said of early days as a musician, adding that it was in her teens she realized that “it wasn’t so much that I wanted to be a musician it was that I was already doing it.”

Since then McBride has barely stopped. She’s a leader in three projects besides Socialist Night School and says that at any given time she has about 10 projects on the go. She credits green tea, superior organizational skills and, believe it or not, a lot of sleep.

“People always ask, ‘Do you sleep?’ and I’m like, ‘Yes or I would actually go crazy,'” she said. “I sleep, I eat, I try to make sure I get from Point A to B to C without stressing and it’s weird but I just try to take care of myself and the rest seems to come together because if you take care of yourself it’s much easier to perform at a high level.”

Chelsea McBride’s Socialist Night School is in the Esplanade Theatre June 19 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets, $35 plus plus service charge and GST are available at, by calling 403-502-8777 or in person at the Esplanade box office or the Medicine Hat Mall customer service desk.

For full JazzFest details visit

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