Friday nights this fall the Sports View Lounge transforms to a magical Oak Bay music venue – Upstairs Lounge.
Recreation Oak Bay ventured into the music scene last fall, and with the success of seven concerts through to the spring, they’re offering a second series with the opening act slated for Sept. 27, the only Saturday show in this series.
“We didn’t know how the venue would work,” said Janet Barclay, manager, recreation program services. “People have said to me, ‘I can walk here and have a glass of wine.’ And it doesn’t go too late.”
Audience numbers ranged from 35 to beyond 100 during last season’s concerts. Performances tend to start at 7:30 p.m. and generally wind up before 10 p.m. but concert goers are starting to make a night of it, arriving for dinner at 6 p.m. prompting chef Donna Daglish to create dinner specials alongside the usual fare.
The concept came up in conversation with patrons and residents during the official community plan review, where municipal leaders heard a desire for more cultural activities in Oak Bay.
“Also, I think there’s a need city-wide for smaller music venues,” Barclay said.
The rec manager turned to Marie Bachand, well known in the Greater Victoria music scene, to make the connections for concerts.
“They’ve been so entrenched in the music scene in Victoria, they’re in the know,” Barclay said.
Bachand is mom to popular local performers Celtic music duo Qristina and Quinn Bachand. The young pair perform together and often collaborate with other well-known jazz and Celtic performers.
Bachand and her husband Adrian bring all their gear, lights, sound and stage and set up for the Upstairs Lounge shows.
“We talked a long time ago about collaborating with Oak Bay … we finally met again last year,” said Bachand. “The lounge upstairs is totally under-utilized and it’s a great space. It’s a perfect situation, it’s a relaxed atmosphere, it’s an all-ages venue so people bring their kids. The possibilities are endless.”
Upstairs Lounge Live Music Series creates a transformation in the venue also embraced by the staff, Barclay said.
“That place transforms. It is a live music venue on those nights,” she said. “We’ve flipped a switch and we’re a different place.
“We wanted to make it world class community entertainment.”
Folk group Red Moon Road hails from Winnipeg and starts the season that includes a mix of genres.
“We’ve mostly focused on local bands, but this season we’ve got three bands coming from out of town,” Bachand said. “Other than those three, we’re also wanting to promote local talent.”
Pint & Dale from Seattle is on stage Oct. 17 and The Crooked Brothers of Winnipeg perform Nov. 28.
Local acts include Groove Kitchen (Oct. 24), Louise Rose and Friends (Nov. 7) and the Maureen Washington Quartet (Dec. 12).
Red Moon Road performs Sept. 27. Tickets for all shows are $12 in advance at Ivy’s Bookshop and Oak Bay Recreation or at beaconridgeproductions.com online. Tickets are $15 at the door.