When Vancouver singer-songwriter Drew Barnes moved to Maple Ridge with his wife six years ago, he wanted to bring a part of the city with him.
“I was involved with live music nights throughout the city, and I wanted to get something going when I moved here,” said. “My whole life is all about this kind of stuff.”
Barnes is a shift worker in Vancouver, at the Best Western Chateau Granville “right in the middle of the entertainment district,” and was keen to see what his new home had to offer.
After casting about town, and checking out the open mic sessions in the community, specifically at Kanaka Creek Coffee, the opportunity to host an open mic at Meadowtown Centre Blenz eventually presented itself, and the first open mic session took place in October 2014.
The open mics take place on a monthly basis, and while the series is still in its infancy, Barnes said that so far the response has been really good.
“At our open mic in January, the place was packed, and there wasn’t a seat to be found,” he elaborated. “We had 10 people show up to play, the artists brought their friends, and it was awesome.”
Barnes said the evenings are open to everyone, admission is free, and already a nice mix of people have come to check out the musical offerings.
“Against the walls were these two girls who were about 15 years old, with a slightly gothic sort of groove going,” he recalled of the January evening. “Right next to them were these two senior citizens, like in their 70s and in their 80s.”
One kid showed up with a ekuele, and another girl had a “Jonie Mitchell sort of sound,” he added.
Barnes said the appeal of open mics is the ability to offer people in the community access to live, local talent, whether on the stage or off.
“It’s affordable, and it’s exciting,” he said. “We’re trying to make it a ‘real show’ with lights and a sound board, where these players can come play, and feel confident.”
With the mix of performers and production quality of the evening, Barnes, who also has experience with studio production, said the event is “sort of evolving into a showcase.”
The goal is to have the best sound for those who come check out the evening, complimented by local artists who get up and perform,” Barnes said.
“The talent in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows is just awesome,” Barnes said. “It really is.”
This weekend Blenz and Barnes will host an “acoustic music showcase” on Saturday, March 21, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
There will be feature acts, admission is free, and all are welcome to attend.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/blenzcoffeemeadowtown.