In the basement of the Kootenay Co-op Radio station, two local music lovers have found their own solution to Nelson’s lack of small music venues.
Since last spring KCR station manager, Jay Hannley, and host of the Thursday afternoon radio show Heavy Early, J. A. Nelson (aka Nelson from Nelson), have been booking indie bands from across North America to play ultra-intimate, all ages shows in the station’s downstairs meeting-room-turned-concert-space.
There’s no stage. The corner of the room where the bands play is lit by only a few strings of Christmas lights. And the sound system is limited to a couple big speakers at the sides of the rooms.
But the bands love it and have been talking up the tiny venue to other touring musicians.
“We’re approached by bands every other day who want to book a show with us,” Nelson says. “When we started we thought we’d just do a show once a month, but especially since The Royal closed, that’s turned into one show a week and sometimes two.”
Often its punk and metal bands that are most interested in the venue, but they’ve had everything from roots and blues to hip hop and EDM artists come through. For some of the quieter solo performers and small folk bands, the pair invite them to play in Hannley’s Silica Street living room known as The Special (previously The Sugar Shack, run by Jodie Peck/Miss Quincy).
Between the two venues their concert series, Crank It!!!(To 6), brought in 67 bands last year and plans to be bigger and better in 2014. They’ve already confirmed dates for East Coast bluesman Ross Neilsen, Chinese indie rock trio Carsick Cars and Vancouver grit-rockers Ladyhawk.
With a maximum capacity around 40 people at the radio station and less in the living room, they don’t have to push the shows too hard. Most of the people who come to their shows hear about them through word of mouth or social media. They attract a lot of minors, who don’t have a lot of opportunities to see live music.
“We have the best audiences,” Hannley says. “They really respect the space and stick around to help clean up after the shows. They just really appreciate what we’re doing.”
All the concerts in the KCR basement are broadcast live on the radio. Any proceeds from the shows, after the bands have been paid, help support the station.
For details about upcoming concerts in the Crank It!!!(To 6) series, see facebook.com/crankitto6concertseries.
Friday, February 7: Vancouver klezmer wizard Geoff Berner, with guest Kate Ruckus at the Kootenay Co-op Radio. Cover is $10, doors at 8 p.m.
Sunday, February 9: East Coast bluesman Ross Neilsen , with special guest Mike Hodsall at The Special (810 Silica Street). Cover is $10, doors at 6 p.m.