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L.A. Beat

Henotic will be missed

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Henotic will be mourned and missed May 2, after Mammoth Cave Fest 2, when they will be closing their doors forever.
The Facebook announcement, April 16, came as a huge shock to Lethbridge’s art and music community, who have embraced the latest bar to call the old firehall home. Henotic has become the home punks, students, indie rockers, artists and people who just want to have a nice meal out, have been seeking.The Hardtails  at Henotic. Photo by Richard Amery
Henotic owner Jason Beacock came a long way in just a year and a half by giving Lethbridge artists and musicians a location and opportunity to meet,  meld and commune. Combined with all of the amazing music the Slice has been bringing in regularly,  classic rock shows at Average Joes and dinner music at the Mocha Cabana, we had a veritable downtown scene happening.

Whenever people disparaging refer to Lethbridge as Deathbridge or complain there’s nothing to do in Lethbridge, you only had to point to Henotic as a microcosm of big city style culture and music with Lethbridge’s small town feel as an example to the contrary.
While a lot of venues are bringing in live music now, none of them have the unique character, not to mention variety  that Henotic offers. Henotic closing leaves local artists suitably bummed out, almost anchorless and leaves a void that is not easily filled.

Simply displaying local  artists’ work on the walls, mostly from the Burning Ground Studio in the basement of the old firehall building, gives artists priceless exposure. They also provided a home for organizations like the Most Vocal Poets and for a brand new Dr. Sketchy’s anti-art school.
Music wise, they embraced a variety of acts like no other venue embraced including garage rockers and punks, who don’t fit in anywhere else, but seem to fit in at Henotic.
There was also a lot of weirder, more dance orientated acts. Big acts like the Shout Out Out Out Outs and You Say Party, We Say Die plus soon to be big acts like Ridley Bent, renown bluesmen like Rod Davis, acts who should be bigger and more than likely will be like Romi Mayes, really cool acts like Calgary rockabilly band the Hardtails, crazy roots acts like the Schomberg Fair and numerous others.

Not to mention their Wednesday open mics which countless up and coming musicians including me, embraced as an opportunity to play out those live performance butterflies, road test new material and just actually get out in public. I’m looking forward to hosting the open mic tonight , April 21,  though very nervous.

They’ve also given local musicians the opportunity to open for a lot of these bigger names, which is a priceless opportunity for them.
Not to say the others don’t but it is a sad day anytime you lose a venue, let alone two (the GCBC Lounge upstairs as well as the downstairs)

The question  though is why? The answer is the same reasons plaguing pretty much anybody trying to book a show or run a bar in Lethbridge — a finicky , last minute audience with limited funds not to mention a student population which leaves every summer.
You have to have stone cajones to book a show in Lethbridge because you never know if anyone will show. It makes you wonder if there are enough people interested in music and art  to warrant so many venues.

Yet there are very few familiar faces at all of the venues. Each venue has their own hard core regulars but there is barely any overlap between venues.  You’ll get a handful of people out to hear a Juno award winner, while at the same time an AC DC tribute or a dance party will pack the house. So go figure. It’s not just Henotic.  There is so much cool stuff happening in Lethbridge, you can’t hit all of it. A lot of really cool shows all over the city have been plagued with dismal turnouts. 

Not only local acts who tend to draw good crowds but popular touring acts as well. And I should know, trying to hit most of it and feeling bad I can’t hit all of it. It keeps me hopping 24-7.
 The money thing is only part of it, the e-mail said it has taken  a toll on Jason’s health and family. Running your own business is a harsh mistress, even more so when the business in question is a bar in Lethbridge.
From a musician’s standpoint, I’m proud to be hosting one of their last open mics this Wednesday night as well as opening Mammoth Cave Fest 2, May 2.

Henotic and their supportive audience has gone a long way to helping me overcome my crippling stage fright. And yet where one venue closes, others open.
 Average Joes  is almost ready to open at their new location in the old Caddy’s building, and local scuttlebutt says it looks like the Tongue N’ Groove will be opening in the old Average Joes building. And there is a new Republik  which will be opening in the basement of the Sandman Inn. If it is based on Calgary’s Republik, it would focus on live music, but I hear it’s going to be a dance club.
In the meantime the question remains , who can embrace Lethbridge’s arts and music community like Henotic has. Good job Jason and good luck. Henotic will be missed.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor
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