Adaptation and the micro movement of live music

Adaptation and the micro movement of live music

Story and Photos by Shane Collins

There is a movement of micro music venues happening here in the Okanagan. It’s the venues that are evolving as our larger, more prominent venues are now nothing more than fodder for the history books.

In Kelowna, SAPPHIRE, MUNINN’S POST, FLASHBACKS, THE GRATEFUL FED, THE HABITAT, FERNANDOS and DOC WHILLOUGHBYS have either been sold or have been reduced to rubble. 

Last week, I met up with ROD ANDERSON; drummer of both Kelowna’s bands, THE WILD and of the long departed/newly reunited MALIBU KNIGHTS. A friend of mine let me know that they were playing at FREDDY’S BREW PUB out in Rutland. I hadn’t been in there since they renovated and after I talked to management and staff, I realized that the place has big plans and hopes for opening up the indoors and their patio.

Malibu Knights at Freddy’s Brew Pub

The space looks fantastic. A wall of doors and glass line the restaurant. A large patio with dangling lights await the warmer evenings. As the weather warms up, they hope to attract an audience and rally a roster of live entertainment. It was nice to see Rod back up there with lead singer DAN HARDEN. It was just the duo and they sounded great. There were around 60 people in attendance. The upbeat, dancing rhythm had people grooving in their seats. 

My phone started buzzing. My pal and music confidant, COLIN CARRIER, was letting me know that JOSHUA SMITH was over at the MISSION TAP HOUSE playing a solo acoustic set. I put the phone down and enjoyed one of the pubs freshly brewed beers and afterwards, I packed up, waved goodbye to Rod and drove across town. 

Walking into the Tap House, the mood was much more subdued as Joshua softly sang his songs. It was like going from the speedway to a campfire sing along. I spotted Colin and sat down at the end of the bar. It was a slower night at the Tap House but as I ordered a glass of wine and took in the soaring voice of Joshua, one of the owners walked over and introduced himself. He saw me snapping some photos and I guess his curiosity got the best of him. He informed me that more live music was coming soon and to keep an eye out for this summer to be busy as the lower mission of Kelowna sees an unprecedented growth in its population. “People are going to want options for places to see live music,” he says. “We have plans for this place.” 

Joshua Smith at the Mission Tap House

The night before, I was at the BLUE GATOR. A bunch of my friends were there to see THE HIP REPLACEMENTS, one of my favorite cover bands of all time. The place was packed in, shoulder to shoulder. It was that hot and dank room I remember so fondly. PAUL SEXSMITH led the group, dressed in a vest, tie, top hat and bowling shoes, forever exuding the prowess and panache of GORD DOWNEY. The crowd was a ruckus of screaming TRAGICALLY HIP fans who would belt out lyrics verbatim. It was a night of drunken elation that left me hung over the following day. I had to call in sick to work. I called in with the F.L.U: Functioning Levels Unreliable. 

The week before I was at the opening of RED BIRD BREWING and their new building, designed and constructed with live music in mind. (Red Bird Brewing: Welcome to Kelowna’s newest live music venue)

Before that I was up at AESTHETIKS LAB, dancing to electro beats. (Cracks in the underground: If there is darkness, there will be light)

BIG WHITE hosted the ALTITUNES fest where thousands of people took in DAYSORMAY, LIGHTS AND THE ARKELLS. (Big win for Altitunes Music Fest)





There was also the FEMME FATALE that heated up the crowd at the EAST KELOWNA COMMUNITY HALL. 

The CANCER BATS and COME BACK KID are coming to the KELOWNA CURLING CLUB in a few weeks.


Femme Fatale at East Kelowna’s Community Hall

The appetite for live music is ravenous, however, keeping up with the demand will take some creative ingenuity. Adaptation is a must and it’s the smaller, less known venues that are stepping up to meet that demand.

What I’m noticing is an interest in hosting live music in establishments that are smaller, more intimate settings. In Vernon, LOCAL LOSERS is a communal creative space that sells art supplies, showcases local art, hosts art classes and they’re also looking to host live shows. You might be able to cram 30 people in there.

In Penticton, the DREAM CAFE is back at it. HAWKSLEY WORKMAN has sold out his show there. It’s like a movement of micro-sized venues hosting great live music. There is a serious hunger for local talent to come and play at these establishments and as the wave of COVID subsides and washes itself out to sea, the tide of talent flows back in, feverish to play again. So, from cafes to bars, to pubs to art collectives, the options for live music are opening up like spring flowers.

Sue Foley at Mary Irwin theatre

Here at Gonzo, there is a page to see what’s coming up and, if you’re a musician, it’s also a place to post your event. There are options, dear reader, so be ready because as passport mandates fall to the floor like trampled and abandoned face masks, the frenzy for live music will come at you from all directions. A delightful dilemma awaits and that is deciding on where to go and see a live show.

Big win for Altitunes Music Fest

Red Bird Brewing: Welcome to Kelowna’s newest live music venue

Cracks in the underground: If there is darkness, there will be light

Sue Foley: Playin’ the blues on a pink guitar

Gonzo Publisher, Brad Krauza supporting our local live music scene on K96.3 Kelowna’s Classic Rock with Brad & Alysha and giving us the latest for the Kelowna Live Music Scene at 9am every Friday morning!

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The Okanagan’s been my home since I was born. Life has taken me across the planet several times and through that transient lifestyle I developed a journalistic style to my photography and to my writing. My influences would be that of James Nachtwey, Annie Lebovitz, Ashley Maile, Hunter S Thompson, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Tom Robbins, Wes Anderson and Charles Bukowski. The world outside this incredible valley, its cultures and its mystery is what’s kept me working and trying to save my money, so I can keep getting back into the world. That’s the way it used to be. Covid has opened my eyes to the land I call my home and there are so many tales to tell right here in BC. From tales of the impoverished to the neglected to those who overcome adversity, to the spirit to overcome fear, the power of storytelling has never been more relevant. I’ve always been a storyteller. There’s a tale worth telling in every neighborhood. I just happen to write about what happens to me along the way and I’ve kept them close to my heart, hoping one day I’ll have an outlet so I can tell those stories the best way I know how; by writing them down. From adventures of long ago, both here or maybe far away, future interviews with musicians, artists of all kinds, the coverage of events, the people I meet along the way, whatever I get up to I intend to have you as my guest as I go back in time and dig up the bones of those old adventures or chase down new ones. Through the alchemy of storytelling, you can come along with me if you like. Before Covid-19 I was really coming into my own photographing live shows; punk rock bands, hip hop showcases, tattoo portraits, rock climbing adventures, Femme Fatale burlesque performances you name it, the phone was finally beginning to ring. Then Covid showed up like a hurricane and I guess it wiped us all out in one way or another. I have a real bone to pick with Covid-19 and if I can share some stories for our readers to enjoy, I’ll do that and when we can return to live music and to foreign travel and we can safely get to working on mending what’s been damaged I tell you I want to be ringside like Joe Rogan commentating on Covid getting its ass whooped. I want to see it tap out and watch us overcome this hardship, raise our collective hands triumphantly and move on into whatever new normal is waiting for us. I’ll be there and through my eyes, just like the boss man, Hunter himself, I’ll do it in Gonzo fashion and bring you kicking and screaming along with me. So hold on tight and dig in. It might not always be pretty but I won’t call it all ugly, neither. That’s for you to decide. My name is Shane Collins and I hope you’ll read along with me and our team here at


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