Crushing that monster “Lack of Interest”


There is a monster loose on the Lethbridge music scene and his name is Lack of Interest and don’t forget about his sullen little sidekick Apathy. There is also another one cropping up called Infighting or Ego, but he’s a whole different issue.

Unleash the Archers’ Brittney Hayes. Photo by Richard Amery
You know them well, they are the little demons whispering in your ear telling you there is nothing to do in Lethbridge, they take great glee in getting people to call this city Deathbridge. They revel in it. But they should not be heeded because they only speak lies. If you think there is nothing to do in Lethbridge, you aren’t looking hard enough. These demons should be ignored and crushed.

 And while it is easy to blame students leaving for the summer for  slower summer months, the scene doesn’t stop because of it. There are 88,000 some people here now and a lot of different venues offering something to do all over the city. 

There are local artists releasing new CDs every day and at least something going on downtown every night. Great shows. Shows that would cost you twice as much if you were to go to Calgary to see them. Shows that you could stay here to see and not get robbed by gas prices or beer prices like you would if you went to the city to see them.

 Especially on off days, when we get touring musicians en route to big cities, who need to fill an otherwise empty travel day. They stop here, but nobody is here to hear them — because of Lack of Interest.

We had a couple alumni from Fred Eaglesmith’s band playing here, Dan Walsh last week and Roger Marin a few times before that. They have come into their own as awesome songwriters, but few heard them. Marin was here with an awesome Austin cat named Mark Jungers, but few heard him. Lack of Interest roared in approval and drowned him out.

 Last night (May 30), the fantastic Tom Savage Trio played the Slice to like eight people. They were excellent, they played the blues and upbeat, tight alt-country. Like Canada’s own version of the Drive By Truckers.

Also May 30, well known Vancouver metal band Unleash the Archers came to the Stone. They had at least had about 20 or 30 people banging their heads to some really intense female powered metal. Great show and it included local metal band Enceladus and Caste of Shadows.

 A few weeks ago a wicked show by Canadian songwriter Sam Roberts drew maybe 200 people to Exhibition Park. I know it sounds great. It would have filled most local venues past capacity. But 200 people looks like hell in a big arena. Another great show. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t sold out. I know ticket prices were high but some of that went to the Humane Society and it would have probably been more expensive in Calgary.

And the Swollen Members’ one time reunion with Moka Only at the Stone on Friday also had a poor turnout considering. I’m not a huge hip hop fan, but even I could tell they were killing it.

These monsters’ latest prey is the longest standing open mic in the city.
The Lethbridge Folk Club is shutting down until their Sept. 17 presentation of Bill Bourne.
 So that means there will be no Friday night bluegrass jams or open mics in the Wolf’s Den until then.
Poor attendance is the biggest problem according to Folk Club president Morris Soenen. He’s not alone. A lot of open mics and indeed a lot of events in general suffer from that plague.

There is also a concern of over-saturation, though having a lot of different places for budding musicians to play seems like a pretty nice problem to have. The Folk Club open mic will be missed this summer, if only because they have the most supportive and friendliest audiences. When they happen every week, it is easy to take them for granted. I know I enjoyed playing there on occasion, kind of wish I had more now. Cursed stage fright. But to quote a ’80s hair metal song “you don’t know what you got until it’s gone.”

 There are a lot of open mics though, it seems like there is a new one every week and a new one closing down every week. McGuinty’s Pub’s Tuesday open mic closed after a week. But it will be replaced by a new one at the Stone, beginning June 7.
Now there are open mics at the Owl Acoustic Lounge and the 1010 Pub on Mondays, The Slice and Bo Diddly‘s on Tuesdays, L.A. Beat’s open jam on Wednesdays at the Owl Acoustic Lounge and Average Joes’ open mic on Thursdays. The latter was going really strong over the past few months, in part due to their open for the bands contest, but attendance has completely dropped off over the past couple weeks. It’s been dismal.

This leaves Jimmy’s Pub and Brasserie with the only regular Friday night open mic now. The Owl Acoustic Lounge also has an open family jam on Saturday afternoons.
 Don’t let these things fall victim to Lack of Interest and his nasty little sidekick Apathy because they are an invaluable part of creating a strong and diverse music scene. Open mics are where musicians go to meet each other, play with each other and try out new songs and old favourites on new audiences and maybe even form new bands with each other.

A new club opens June 1, who plan on joining the open mic fray.
The Red Fort Cafe international and Diesel Club, the newest residents of the old Firehall building downtown plan on having Tuesday night open mics, though I don’t know when they are going to start them.
 They will be offering international cuisine from Dubai and London as well as a hookah lounge upstairs and live DJs Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays.

On a slightly different sidetrack, local promoters don’t have to keep on bringing in live shows. Most of them do it for the love of the music. They often lose much of their own money bringing in shows, though that is the risk you take as a promoter. You can only lose so much though. Funds and enthusiasm, not to mention patience tend to wear thin after what seems like an endless row of empty rooms despite featuring great music.

If you keep on feeding those monsters Lack of Interest and Apathy, one day there will truly be nothing to do in Lethbridge. And the monsters will laugh at you and laugh loudly, because you know, it will be your own fault.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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