While some may see it as a fun outing on a Sunday afternoon, Lounge Lizards is so much more for many of its performers and audience members.
Lounge Lizards is an open mic venue for seniors at the Monterey Recreation Centre.
“It’s kind of rediscovering, or discovering for the first time in your life, some of your gifts and talents,” said Drelene Gibb, organizer of Lounge Lizards. “A lot of times you put these extra things that are your gifts on the shelf for a while.”
For Mike Goubault it’s the venue that turned his life around.
When Goubault’s wife of 10 years died in January 2013, he was emotionally adrift. “I lost my best friend,” he said. “I went to a couple of those support groups and they didn’t do anything for me.” The only thing that has seemed to help him deal with the grief is performing at the Lounge Lizards.
“It’s a form of a healing process,” he said. “Lounge Lizards has put me back in the saddle. It made me focus more on what life is all about.”
Gibb too, finds performing at Lounge Lizards healing for her, having gone through her husband’s death three years ago, and breast cancer a year after that.
“The thing that actually pulled me through was playing the ukulele and these old songs,” said Gibb.
“It’s one thing to join a breast cancer support group, but that can be depressing. When you come to something like this it does more. It’s uplifting.”
Carl Ivey is also a popular performer at the Lounge Lizards. A former pediatrician, Ivey is known as Classical Carl and performs in area seniors homes as well.
“I play music that resonates with me – Beethoven, Bach, Chopin,” he said. “I love to meet people who say they don’t like classical music – it’s like not liking gravity.”
Days before Goubault’s wife died, as she lay unresponsive in bed in hospice at Royal Jubilee Hospital, he played her a couple of her favourite Elvis songs.
“All of a sudden she started moving her hands like this in bed,” he said, waving his hands with the memory.
Ivey said studies have been done that show music has a therapeutic effect. “Music makes people feel good. It brings joy and pleasure and stimulates the immune system. … The word silly comes from the old English selig, which means happiness and long life. Long before it was proven in a lab, the ancients knew.”
Goubault won the Lounge Lizards people’s choice award this summer. He now gets joy out of brightening people’s days by singing and performing.
“When you go home at night you feel good that you made somebody happy or sang someone’s favourite song.”
“It’s a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon,” said Trudy King who regularly attends the weekly shows. “I enjoy it very much. There’s all kinds of people, quite a variety, some people play piano, some play ukulele and there are some very good singers.”
“Whether we participate as musicians or form part of the audience, we are guaranteed two hours of both entertainment and camaraderie. In my opinion, every centre should emulate this program,” agreed performer Frankie Glickman.
Gibb said it’s about what music and being part of a community can do for people, whether they are performing or sitting in the audience. “Monterey has a lot of clubs, but this is a venue for individuals, that’s why I started it, for people who feel at loose ends,” she said.
“It’s an awesome idea, it’s an amazing venue,” agreed Ivey. “We can all be ourselves and be comfortable making mistakes, no one’s going to throw rotten tomatoes.”
The Lounge Lizards open mic is on every Sunday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Monterey Centre, 1442 Monterey Ave.