When you watch a video of a polar bear swimming miles and miles between ice sheets, looking for a place to rest in the rapidly warming Arctic, does your mind go to the Transatlantic Zodiac Band? Mine does, and here’s why.
The last four years have seen a massive loss of habitat for our local bands. In a town with four major bars, and even more all-ages venues, you would think there’s plenty of stage going around. But don’t be deceived by the mere presence of dimly-lit buildings that serve alcohol at night time – musicians are getting a little claustrophobic as fewer and fewer of those venues put on live shows, and fewer still on weekends.
Chuggles closed its doors to live music this past month. What was once a hub for northern Nova Scotia’s music scene, with Wintersleep, the Trews, Joel Plaskett, Jill Barber, Tom Fun Orchestra, Slowcoaster, and just about every other East Coast band worth mentioning having graced their humble stage, this is one canary in the coal mine that we had better listen to.
Piper’s Pub, aside from Wednesday’s open mic night, is firmly dedicated to the fine art of tuning their radio to top 40 hits stations until the lights come on. Count another strike against live music.
It’s not just Chuggles and the Pub, though. As any local musician will tell you, if it’s not Wonderwall, you will never hear a song played at the Inn by a StFX student. For some reason, the powers that be do not book live bands to the Inn unless a private group books the venue for a night and takes care of it themselves.
Who is to blame but ourselves? Stage real estate is dwindling, and it is definitely not for lack of local talent. Partly because of our music program, and partly from the small community flush with activity, Antigonish is stacked with great bands of every genre and always will be.
We as a community have failed our musicians. Through a lack of support for live music, we have told local venues that we don’t want it. It’s natural selection, and the fittest are surviving; to keep afloat in a town where people flock to Miley Cyrus and shrink from Moustache Pony, bars are forced to Party in the USA. The bars are not evil establishments run by stupid people, they are businesses catering to what the community is telling them they want.
Now that the U is taking the reins of the Inn, it’s time for us to start demanding some live music. We now have the ability to voice our opinion in two ways, both direct and indirect: if you want live music at our campus bar, tell the people who work for you. The U is an organization by, and, most importantly, for the students – tell them what you want.
The other way to make sure we see more bands and DJs making music up on our little Inn stage is to actually go see them. This is the most effective way to cast your vote – with your wallet and your dancing body, unless you dance like me. My dancing body generally counts as a point against, so I prefer to lounge and look really cool, which is another option for the rhythmically challenged.
Has the town that helped launch the Trews and Wintersleep really just lost the last of its venues? As of now, Antigonish has the reputation of being a town to skip on tour. Bands do not want to come here because pulling in a crowd is like pulling teeth. We have to show our support for the music scene, or we won’t have one.