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Creative Manitoba is celebrating our 20th anniversary! To highlight our history and excitement about continuing to support Manitoba’s arts community, we spoke with community members who have made a particularly special mark throughout our past twenty years. These are their stories.

Silas Presley

The Silas Presley Band, consisting of 19-year-old Silas Presley on lead guitar and vocals, his Father, Big Robbie G on bass guitar, Jack Penner on the drums, and Simon Delmont on keyboards.

Hailing from Altona, Manitoba, musician Silas Presley says he draws a lot of his inspiration from nature.

“It’s obviously very flat. But if you go a little ways out, there’s, I mean, we have the most amazing sunsets here.”

After a few failed projects, the self-proclaimed small-town boy formed The Silas Presley Band with his Dad, Big Bobbie G, Jack Penner and Simon Delmont. Playing at gigs like coffee shops and fundraisers, he and his family have tried to bring more live music to the sports-oriented town.

“I started finding my own sound, my own group of guys, and I decided that I really wanted to take my career to the next level. Take it from kind of a hobby thing and bring it to trying to make a career.”

Looking for opportunities to grow, Presley took part in Creative Manitoba’s Rural Mentorship Program. His mentor was Ken Campbell, a teacher and recording engineer who has worked in western Manitoba for forty years.

“We did a lot of listening in our time. Listening to different mixes, to different work he’s been a part of, to different work that I’ve been a part of. And Ken taught me how to have that critical kind of ear. Just to really listen and get yourself in the music.”

Campbell also taught him about recording and studio work, including mixing and mastering. Passing along knowledge that Presley says helped him create his psychedelic rock and roll debut EP, Transcendent

To hone in on the business side of the industry, Presley signed up for Creative Manitoba’s The Art of Managing Your Career. The 12-week course focuses on the planning and organizing required to have a disciplined practice.

“That was such an informative experience. We did Zoom meetings with all these people. So it was cool because we saw these small communities building together. Someone’s out here and their internet connections worse than mine!”

Presley loves playing shows and connecting with audiences, and dreams of travelling the world while continuing to record his own music and write. He says Creative Manitoba has given him hope and shown that it is possible to make a full-time living as a musician. 

“I don’t think I would be where I am today if it weren’t for them. Obviously, I’ve still got a long, long road to go. But they have helped me bring everything to the next level and ensure that I want to do this for the rest of my life.”

Amanda Emms is a freelance writer and activist living in Winnipeg, Treaty 1 territory. Her work includes collaborations with art organizations, non-profits, public health and media outlets. The library is her favourite space.

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