Despite playing music for half his life, 16-year-old guitarist and vocalist, Aidan Desmarais, says finding gigs in Calgary can feel like an uphill battle.

Since the New Black Centre closed its doors in 2013, the city has been without a dedicated all-ages venue, making it difficult for young bands to find their way into the scene.

“There’s been a lot of times we have been trying to do research on places that we should contact,” explains Desmarais, who fronts local hard rock trio Flashback. “And it’s limited, you know, because we have to go, ‘Okay, is it a bar? Is it over 18 after nine o’clock?’ And so you have to take those things into consideration.”

Though some local spots, such as hot dog restaurant Tubby Dog, the Ironwood Stage and Grill and the historic McHugh House host occasional all-ages concerts, no venue has been established since the New Black to act as a consistent space for all-ages music in the city.

Graham Mackenzie, founder of Major Minor Music Project, hopes to open a dedicated venue within the next three years to act as a central hub for the all-ages scene. On top of a performance space, Mackenzie is looking to also house merchandise printing and recording equipment in the location. To accomplish this, Mackenzie is looking for support from all levels of government, something he says has been absent up until this point.

“People want to talk about thinking ‘out of the box’ – You know what out of the box is? If you led with your arts funding. How about try that,” says Mackenzie of the current lack of government funding to local arts projects.

MajorLazerBodyParadise Lanes bowling alley in Forest Lawn is home to Major Minor Music Projects popular ‘Punk Rock Bowling’ events, which combines live music and five pin bowling. Photo by Nathan Kunz.

Major Minor’s next event, “Punk Rock Bowling Xmas Xtravaganza” will take place on Dec. 16 2017 at Paradise Lanes Bowling Alley.

Editor: Ashley King |  

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