With the warning that you’ll likely be subjected to an hour or two of misspent-youth war stories, here’s a fun question you can ask your grandparents, cool aunt, or Aaron Chapman: how much do you miss the Town Pump and Richard’s on Richards?
Or the Savoy and Graceland? Or John Barley’s, the Cruel Elephant, and the Commodore (back when the bouncers were all moonlighting bikers)?
Or the Cave, the Inquisition, Oil Can Harry’s, Gary Taylor’s, Retinal Circus, the Windmill, Smilin’ Buddha, the Brickyard, the White Rose Ballroom, or the Palomar? Don’t ask them about the Starfish Room or 86 Street, because no one misses either one of those places. But definitely bring up the Soft Rock Cafe, Luv-A-Fair, Rohan's Rockpile, the Living Room, and Diamond Jim's.
As anyone who's read Chapman's excellent and essential Vancouver After Dark knows, the above venues have something in common—they all hosted live music, were all loved by those who frequented them, and most importantly are all gone. And they are—with two exceptions—horribly missed.
And that’s worth thinking about today. Because, thanks to a year and counting of COVID-19, there’s a new laundry list of Vancouver clubs that are in very real danger of joining the list of the dearly departed.
No concerts has meant no bookings, which has meant almost no revenue stream for over a year, not a good thing when there are still bills (rent, property tax, heating, electricity, and permits to start) that need to be paid. That’s especially bad news for independent venues that aren’t operating under a deep-pocketed corporate umbrella. Hello, the Rickshaw and the Rio.
The good news is that you can help.
The Canadian Live Music Association is spearheading a campaign called Save the Future of Live Music in Canada. Its most pressing concern right now? That would be a drive to let the federal government know that live venues across the county could seriously use a slice of the Phase 3 emergency relief funding.
The next federal budget is scheduled for April 19, making today or tomorrow a good time to remind your elected officials that the live-music industry has been battered by the pandemic.
The Canadian Live Music Association says over half of all venues will be forced to shut for good without an extension to Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy. To date Canadian venues have seen an average 92 percent decrease in revenue, with an estimated 114,000 entertainment industry workers (that’s everyone from the sound guy to the doorman to the folks on stage) left jobless.
So how can you help?
Simple. Click here, and you’ll be directed to a Canadian Live Music Association Urgent Call to Action page where all you have to do is fill out your first and last name, postal code, and email address.
From there CLMA will forward your filled-out form to the appropriate elected representative with the goal of getting the attention of Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. You’ll want to do this today or tomorrow to help show government there’s a pre-budget groundswell of folks calling for action.
What are you signing?
The form includes the following: “I am writing to you today to express my support #ForTheLoveofLIVE, an awareness campaign bringing attention to the damage COVID-19 shutdowns have caused Canada’s live music industry. I am writing on behalf of the artists, festivals, venues, promoters, clubs, concert halls, arenas, talent agencies, unions, and many others working in the supply chain that connect Canadians with extraordinary live music experiences.”
The Howden Ballroom, Isy’s, Cabin Inn, Moon Glow, and Club Zanzibar aren’t coming back. Do your part so you’ll have war stories to tell your grandkids, nieces, nephews, and (looking way, way down the line) the ghost of Aaron Chapman.