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Spirit in the Mountain concert series a 'beautiful experience'

“Open up your heart and really just let this be a special adventure — Open yourself up to the possibility that you might even find out something new about yourself.”
Banff's Elk Run and Riot play the gallery several stories deep into Rat's Nest Cave under Grotto Mountain during a past Spirit in the Mountain concert. Canmore Cave Tours will put on four days of concerts under the mountain as part of upcoming music series (Dec. 19-22). RMO FILE PHOTO

CANMORE – Inspiring lovers of music and adventure to descend into the body of the earth and surround themselves with the Spirit in the Mountain, Canmore Cave Tours is encouraging guests to attend its annual Rat’s Nest Cave concert series.

One half of the duo Trundled, Ellen Braun will be performing with her partner Joe Shea in the Spirit in the Mountain concert series on Thursday (Dec. 19).

“It’s really cool it’s a totally exciting concert,” Braun said. “It really is an outlier in terms of concerts that we do.”

It takes a special kind of fan to make the trek into the cave, Braun said, adding that it adds to the excitement of the evening.

Braun said she is proud Spirit in the Mountain takes place in Trundled’s home base of Canmore, making the concert all the more significant for the band.

For those willing to brave a hike up Grotto Mountain and plunge into the mystery of Rat’s Nest Cave – a spectacular one-of-kind night awaits them.

“It’s a beautiful experience,” Braun said. “To be in the cave and listen to our voices resonating off the walls is a really magical experience for our audience, but also for us.”

The event brings together people who share a love of the mountains and the great outdoors paired with adventuring and music, Braun said, creating an electrifying night that celebrates the sounds of music.

“Open up your heart and really just let this be a special adventure,” Braun said. “Open yourself up to the possibility that you might even find out something new about yourself.”

The dark space of the cave serves to enhance the music, she added, explaining that when they perform, unlike typical venues, they cannot see the audience.

“In the cave, we’re literally going on a journey with our audience,” Braun said, revealing that one of the best parts of the night is when they return to the base and can see and speak with the audience about the experience.

“To come back and connect about that is really special. It’s like any kind of adventure you go on with someone. But, the music makes it a deeper connection.”

The cave suits the folk roots sound of Trundled she added, describing how the experience of listening to the harmonies sung by herself and Shea are elevated by being in the cave.

“The songs that we play are of connection, of home, of love, of life,” Braun said. “Stories that everyone can relate to.”

Trundled’s latest album High Water will be coming out in 2020 and some of the band’s new material will be featured during the concert.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “People can get a sneak peek.”

Braun said that the great team at Canmore Cave Tours helps ensure the concerts can go smoothly, adding that she appreciates the steps taken to ensure performers and audiences feel comfortable in the environment.

Concert day marks a big shift in the typical day for Canmore Cave Tours, owner Adam Walker said.

Adding music to what is traditionally an adventure-based activity draws a different crowd to the venue allowing Canmore Cave Tours to connect with guests who typically do not seek out caving.

“Every cave is unique,” he said. “We’re pretty lucky to have this in our back yard. 

“We get to listen to some amazing music.”

The cave tour can be a “daunting” experience for many people, Walker said, explaining that he is always impressed by the musicians who can complete the cave tour and play amazing music.

“I give our performers a lot of kudos on that one,” he said.

Walker said he hopes potential fans do not feel discouraged by the hike, comparing the journey to the Grassi Lakes Trail, describing the experience as moderately difficult. It takes about thirty minutes to hike up to the cave entrance he said, adding that ice-cleats are provided by Canmore Cave Tours.

“I can comfortably do it holding a guitar case,” Braun said with a laugh. “You feel safe and taken care of.”

Canmore Cave Tours provides an equipment list ahead of time to audiences to ensure they can comfortably make the trek and enjoy the 45-minute concert in the cave.

While Alberta weather may be notoriously unpredictable, Walker said, the cave is 5 C every day of the year. Cushions and blankets are provided to guests during the concert, however, Walker said that he still recommends people dress warm and pack some extra layers.

“It [the cave] is such an amazing place, it has so much incredible history,” Walker said. “The music was really an opportunity for us to make people aware of what this is.”

Spirit of the Mountain runs from Thursday (Dec. 19) to Sunday (Dec. 22). Bands featured during the event include Trundled, Elk Run and Riot, Seth Anderson and The Silkstones. All adventures begin at 5 p.m. Tickets are $149 and available through

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