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The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
Phone: 604-266-6552
Fax: 604-267-3342

Web: www.columbiajournal.ca

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Columbia Journal logoVolume Nine, Number Two    April 2004    www.columbiajournal.ca


    Live Music, Anyone?

    Mark Bignell

    With the closing of such venues as The Sugar Refinery on Granville (to office space), The Silvertone Tavern on Commercial Drive (to a sports bar), the loss of Ms. T's (to fire) and the upcoming demolition of Richard's on Richard's (possible condos), amongst other atrocities, it really makes you wonder about the future of live music in this sleepy town of ours. With fewer and fewer places for Vancouver's more unique acts to play and develop a following of any kind, the need for alternatives is quite critical.

    The sudden loss of valued live venues can bring to mind these kinds of questions:

    •  Does this town care about live music at all?
    •  Can we do something to bring it back to the healthy level it should be?
    •  Is the support really there to make it happen, despite the overwhelming drawbacks?

    My answer to these questions is: yes. But, it will require a lot of time, effort, persistence and patience, amongst other intangibles.

    The support has been shown in some circles:
    • Over 3800 people have signed the petition asking city hall to step in and help find a new location for "the Shug".
    • The Media Club (on Cambie and Georgia) has taken up the slack somewhat by offering shows to acts who had booked gigs at The Sugar Refinery and The Silvertone, plus offering other worthy events a place to expose their muse, after the demise of both live venues.
    • The Our Town Cafe on the corner of Broadway and Kingsway, is contributing in a small way by offering Open Mics and regular music and cultural events most days of the week, and a Songsmith's Showcase with Marq Desousa, formerly of Solarbaby, offering his tunes, some choice covers and a place for other fellow songsmith's to showcase their wares every Saturday starting at 9 pm.
    • *Pub 340 at 340 Cambie, just north of Hastings, is offering a place for the edgier talent in town, including such genres as electronica and Indy garage rock to the mix. As well as a New Music Wednesday, offering another space for new talent to cut their teeth.
    • The Legion on Main and East 23rd, is looking for live acts as well.
    • The Main (Main at East 26th avenue) has expanded it's operations to the back room, and is offering movies on Tuesday nights, and another spot for new talent to cut their teeth on Wednesdays.

    Now, this looks like this just might be the answer to a live music fan's prayers, but will this be enough to save a the scene so to speak? Perhaps, not entirely, but it's a good start.

    *Typhoon Restaurant (Main Street at East 10th Avenue) is yet another place offering live music on Saturdays, starting at 9:30 pm. TYPHOON has offered such unique acts as The Doers, Notes From The Underground, and Joe Mavety to name but a few.

     If these venues and their events take off, then real, live musicians will have somewhere to go and develop an audience, especially if they can't afford to rent out halls like The Wise, Cambrian, Anza, St. James and the like.

    No offense to these halls and the good people who run them. But the rent can be pretty steep for struggling indy acts who don't have a lot of money to spend to start with. Perhaps offering special deals, if it's possible, to make it easier to stage a show at one of the premiere halls at a less intimidating rate that won't send either the hall or artist to the poor house.

    There are also the smaller venues that line Main Street (Purple Crab, The Main, Montmontre, and The Cottage Bistro) from 23rd to 29th.

    And, of course, not forgetting the old reliables such as: The Railway Club (579 Dunsmuir), The Pic Pub (Pender, just off Seymour), The Marine Club (Homer just off Dunsmuir) The Cobalt (on Main, by the Georgia Viaduct) and The Backstage Lounge on Granville Island to name the lions share of the respected live music spots in our town. So there is still some hope out there for live music.

    But, with the Sugar Refinery not having a new home at the time of this writing, where are the more experimental acts going to display their talent?

    Perhaps places like the Main, The Railway and The Marine Club can help fulfill this niche until the Shug finds a new home. Maybe The Western Front (East 8th Ave at Scotia) can offer their space to more Indy acts. Recently an Indy music show, outside the usual Jazz concerts held there, (I have nothing against Jazz by the way. The Jazz musicians in this town are incredible.) "All Country at The Western Front" did incredibly well. It oversold. So why not offer the place to more acts outside the Jazz idiom?

    Until then, I feel the best place for Sugar Refinery-esque bands to consider are (besides the obvious ones I've mentioned) places just off the radar (like The Butchershop Floor. Call Forbes if you 'd like to book a show there.) in artists' respective neighborhoods, or; hold house concerts.

    Get creative. Don't let Vancouver's "No Fun" purveyors shut down live music. Find halls that are cheaper.

    There has to be some out there: other legions, churches etc. With Vancouver's antiquated and over-regulated laws and all around discouragement of nurturing live talent, it's time more local musicians, promoters and music lovers in general, not just rely on the clubs anymore (although there are a few who still believe in live music). Take matters into your own hands and make it happen where you can. It'll take some doing, but it'll ensure there will be a live scene in this town that will continue to evolve and thrive, despite the overwhelming odds set upon it.

    E-mailing and writing city hall might help. If they know there's a demand for live music here, they might help out in some way. It can't hurt trying. It can be done. It won't be easy, but with some concrete encouragement from the community, there's no telling what could be accomplished. That's my vision and I'm sticking to it.

    Localcentric's "Where & When:" A local Indy Travel Guide

    Places to hear and see local/indy talent, as it's still not listed in any of the big local papers except the Columbia Journal, of course.

     In order to appreciate local/indy talent, you have to first know "where and when" you can get acquainted with it. The Columbia Journal is more than happy to offer some places to go for doing just that.

     Where & When: On TV

     *ZED on CBC Television-Weeknights at 11:25 pm
     A mix of films, arts and local/indy talent. Not to be missed.

     *Going Coastal on Muchmusic, Sundays 8 pm
     E-mail host Chris Nelson at chrisn@muchmusic.com

     Were & When: On Radio

     *CFRO Co-op Radio, 102.7 FM
     *Clammdiggers Anonymous, Wednesdays 3:30-5 pm
     *Main & Hastings, (2nd and 4th Wednesdays) 5-6 pm
     *Shockwave, (Metal) Wednesdays Midnight-3 am
     *Broken Records, Thursdays 2:30-4 pm
     *Radio Bandcouver, Fridays 10 pm-Midnight

     *CBC Radio 2, 105.7 FM

     *Brave New Waves, Monday-Friday Midnight-4 am
     *Radiosonic Saturdays, 7 pm-Midnight and Sundays 7-10 pm
     *Radio On, Saturdays and Sundays  Midnight-4 am

     *CBC Radio 1, AM 690

     *Definitely Not The Opera, Saturdays 1-5 pm with Sook-Yin Lee

     *CJSF, 90.1 FM

     *Active Radio,  Mondays  5-7 pm
     *Stimulated Flavour,  Mondays  7-8 pm
     *Stop the Clock,  Tuesdays  8-10 am
     *Three's Company, Wednesdays  8-9 am
     *Pop-o-Pie Planet,  Thursdays  1-2 pm
     *Cute Band Alert,  Thursdays  2-4 pm
     *Snuff, Fridays  6-8 pm

     *CITR 101.9 FM:

     Sundays: Blood On The Saddle 3-5 pm
     Mondays: Parts Unknown 1-3 pm
     Tuesdays: Third times The Charm 9:30-11:30 am
     Wednesdays (alternating shows): Motordaddy / Rumbletone Radio 3-5 pm
                        The Folk Oasis 9-11 pm
     Thursdays: Local Kids Make Good  (alternates with Pedal Revolution) 5-6 pm
                     Out For Kicks 6-7:30 pm
                     On The Air With Greased Hair 7:30-9 pm
                     Live From Thunderbird Hell 9-11 pm
     Fridays:  Caught In The Red 8-10 am
                     Ska-T's Scenic Drive 10 am-Noon
                     Nardwuar presents 3:30-5 pm
                     The Northern Wish 6-7:30 pm

    There you be. This is by no means a complete listing, but, at least you know where to start for "the real stuff," Happy hearing.

    Mark Bignell is a dedicated advocate of live/independent music.
    He can be heard Friday nights, 10-midnight, on "Radio Bandcouver" on Co-op Radio
    102.7 FM. You can also visit him on-line at: www.bandcouver.com and e-mail him at: mark (at) bandcouver (dot) com

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