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


Welcome to Kelowna’s newest live music venue

Photo credit and copyrights to Shane Collins & Gonzo Okanagan

A good buddy of mine shot me a message early in the afternoon. He informed me that Red Bird, one of Kelowna’s beloved breweries, had finally opened its long awaited indoor kitchen and dining area. He told me he’d be there around 2:00pm. So, my partner and I hopped on our bikes and headed down to see what all the fuss was about. 

Though still under the final phases of construction, patrons can now enjoy some delicious pizza, cooked fresh in their new kitchen and see live music set up with a beautiful stage and backdrop. Soft lighting and an abundance of ambient light filled the large room. Fresh beer is poured and served to the throng of music lovers that packed into the new space this afternoon.

Kentucky Eileen was in the house. I didn’t even recognize Dan Tait singing into his mic without that wild beard of his. It looked like the damn thing fell clear off his face. G.M Adam Semeniuk and Mitch Howanyk welcomed the crowd to the culmination of over 5 years in the making.

GM Adam Semeniuk and Mitch Howanyk

Through the pandemic. Through rising costs and the speculation of the buildings completion, finally, the day has come and with a packed house, glasses were raised, thanks were given and a warm welcome was indeed instated as Red Bird, like a rising phoenix, has risen up from the those ashes of uncertainty and now looks to potentially be one of the go-to spots for live music in this fair city.

The people of Kelowna have watched venue after venue sell or close or literally be torn down over the past few years. Questions of where bands can come to perform to a sizable crowd, well, look no farther, dear friends. Red Bird has landed and when this place is finished, you could be looking at a venue that could hold up to a thousand people. 

A packed house

Wires are still dangling along a few walls, awaiting their fixtures. Outside, the courtyard still needs some final touches but the meat and bones of the place are up and running and it’s potential feels colossal. The Richter and Gaston area has seen a surge in development. People used to go down along Bernard. Now they venture up past Clement and take in all the new restaurants and pubs and breweries. There’s even a new climbing gym, just down the road. It’s not far from the waterfront. Bike lanes criss cross the area. Spring time is here. The pandemic seems to be slowing down. Yes, today I saw a room packed with paying customers and i saw little kids sitting with smiling parents. This place is kid friendly, it’s in a great part of town and the sound system has been spared no expense.

Family fun with Ryan, Georgia and Savanna

 Everything has been invested and built from the ground up and has prevailed through the pandemic. As the year unfolds, I intend to see as many shows as I can and I’ll share my experiences with all of you.

I know I’ll be back here a lot and who knows, maybe I can sit down with Adam and have a deeper conversation about what it means to him and to his crew now that the doors are open and the stage awaits the boots of all the musicians that are eager to play again.

Slice of pizza
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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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