Return to full-time music a welcome challenge for Fabian Minnema

Fabian Minnema and his band will perform at the Rock Trout Café on Saturday with Small Kitchen Radio. -- Photo from Fabian Minnema/Facebook

There came a point when Fabian Minnema realized he needed to play music full time.

The Saskatoon-based musician started out with Johnny Grit, an independent surf-rock band also based out of Saskatoon, but dialed back his musical aspirations for a career in the construction industry.

A few years ago, Minnema returned to music full time, but said a lot has changed since he started out.

“I’ve been pretty lucky,” said Minnema, now the lead singer and guitarist with the Fabian Minnema Band. “I’ve had some pretty big shows. I’ve played some shows with 54-40 and The Trews. I’ve opened up for David Willcox, which is a real highlight, but it’s been hard.

“You have to learn a certain amount of computer knowledge and how things work about social platforms and what have you. It’s really a tough slog out there trying to sell your music online. I’m still way more apt to book a small club in the city, get in there, play my music, meet everybody, (and) shake a few hands. That’s really where my wheelhouse is.”

Minnema will be in his wheelhouse on Saturday when his band travels to Prince Albert for a show at the former Rock Trout Café. He’s performed there before during a collaboration with Janis Joplin tribute band Pearl, and is eager to return.

“It’s such a great venue and the owners are so great,” Minnema said. “PA has such a great arts community, and we just love coming up to play.”

Minnema released two singles earlier this year. The first, ‘Escape from Mexico’ was created following a challenge from one of his friends. The second, ‘Made’ was released in June, and focuses on Minnema’s decision to return to the music industry full time.

“Although I can make money doing construction, (my hands) really were made for writing music and for making rock and roll,” he said. “That’s really how I feel, and that’s kind of why I backed away from all other work and just focused wholly on music the last couple of years.

“It’s been trying, but ‘Made’ is sort of my anthem. If you know you have talent and you believe in yourself, then you have to go for it.”

‘Escape from Mexico’ was released in May, and focuses on the resiliency of the human spirit. Minnema wrote it after a friend in Winnipeg asked him if he could write a song about anything. When Minnema said he’d try, the friend gave him the title, ‘Escape from Mexico’.

“As I was writing it, I really started to understand how hard it must be for people who have nothing to try and get something … and they’ll do it at all costs,” he explained. “People have lost everything, including family (and) their own lives, trying to just get across the US border to get into America, to get to the promised land. It just really felt like a song for strength in humans and the resilience in humans as they take that leap.”

The Fabian Minnema band will be one of two acts performing at the Rock Trout on Saturday. Saskatoon’s Small Kitchen Radio will also take the stage. The two groups share a bass player in Nevin Buehler, and Minnema has played before with SKR guitarist and lead singer Shawn Semchuk.

“It’s good rock and roll,” Minnema said. “Shawn’s got a real good Canadiana feel to his stuff. If you think about I Mother Earth, the Tragically Hip, and Our Lady Peace, that’s kind of what you’re going to get with Small Kitchen Radio.”

In January, Minnema and his band will be back in the studio recording new music. Then in the spring they’ll head to Vancouver to start a Western Canada tour.

The doors open for Saturday’s show at 6:30 p.m., with the music starting at 7:30 p.m. For tickets, visit