12/03/2016 16:00 EST | Updated 12/04/2017 00:12 EST

'Unsung Hero' of Vancouver's folk music scene gets national award

A Vancouver concert promoter known for putting folk music on the map is getting national recognition.

Steve Edge, a longtime radio personality and founder of the Rogue Folk Club, has been named the Slaight Music Unsung Hero at the Canadian Folk Music Awards — a title that recognizes exceptional contribution to the Canadian folk music scene.

Edge got his start as a radio host on CiTR more than three decades ago before moving on to promote folk music across the city in the 1980s. He says the award was a nice surprise, even if the concept is a little ironic.

"It's kind of an oxymoron, because once you've won the award, you're not unsung," he told host Sheryl MacKay on CBC's North by Northwest.

Edge's Rogue Folk Club began promoting folk concerts in 1987, and continues to organize more than 50 shows per year in Vancouver and beyond.

But before Edge became a cornerstone of the city's folk music scene, he worked in North Vancouver as a computer programmer — and knew little about the genre.

Edge on Folk

"I had always been passionate about music for sure, but I never really knew anything about folk," he said.

Edge was a regular at Phantasmagoria — a downtown record shop that used to post CiTR's music playlists on the wall. One day he noticed the UBC radio station was advertising DJ lessons — and something clicked.

"I think I'd always hankered to be [a radio DJ] but I didn't really formulate that idea until I saw the opportunity to get some training."

Edge went through with the lessons, and when he finished up, the station offered him their only open on-air slot: a Saturday morning folk show.

With little knowledge of the genre, he decided to think about the offer — until he saw classic folk rockers Spirit of the West perform at the historic Railway Club. He says the band's sound was incredible, a style he believed needed to be heard on the airwaves. So he connected with member Geoffery Kelly. who helped him craft a playlist for the program.

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And when he stepped into the sound booth, he knew the gig was for him.

"It was the most exhilarating experience," he said. "I was very, very happy to be at CiTR."

He called the program Edge on Folk, and it premiered on the station 31 years ago. And it's still going strong.

With files from CBC's North by Northwest

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Vancouver folk pioneer becomes a national 'Unsung Hero'